What began with “charitable choice” in 1996 is now coming into full realization with the near completion of regulations governing federal grant assistance to religious social service providers.
The filed comments respond to proposed additions to regulations that have been in force since they were adopted in 2003-2004 as part of President Bush’s faith-based initiative.
The proposed refinements mainly address the need for:
- Better notice to beneficiaries concerning their rights when served by a religious provider;
- Clarity on who holds responsibility for referral when a beneficiary objects to a religious provider;
- Clarity as to the differing rules when the aid is direct or is indirect such as with vouchers or child care certificates;
- A rule memorializing the current practice of safeguarding hiring rights by faith-based providers; and
- Requiring that awards be based on merit, not by political pressure for or against religion.
The Christian Legal Society, Association of Christian Schools International, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and National Catholic Educational Association joined the NAE in filing the comments.