The Common Good

Faith-Based Funding for Teen Challenge Stirs Debate

Date: January 19, 2010

In September, progressive evangelical leader Jim Wallis, who is a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, contended that there is a need for faith-based charities to “preserve” their religious identity.

“[S]ervice provision is not the same thing as hiring,” Wallis stated in a blog found on the ministry Sojourners’ web site. “To do what they do, faith organizations must maintain their identity.”

Wallis believes that if faith groups are forced to conform their hiring policies to the standards of secular groups that receive federal funding then many faith groups would rather give up the money than change their policies. That in turn would cause “radical disruption” in key partnerships with the faith community.

For now, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships says it will continue to allow federally funded religious groups to consider an applicant’s religion when hiring. But the faith-based office says it will be stricter when it comes to overseeing how federal funds are being used by faith-based groups to avoid the funds being spent on religious evangelism or other non-secular purposes.