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White House Issues Faith-Based Guidelines E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Sunday, 29 April 2012

On Friday, the White House issued a report directing agencies in how to implement church-state reforms recommended made by the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. President Obama issued an Executive Order in November 2010 adopting many of the recommended reforms, which were drafted by a number of religious organizations including the Baptist Joint Committee. Friday's guidelines detail their implementation.

The chair of that Advisory Council, former BJC Counsel Melissa Rogers blogs at the White House's site about the significant of this "important step."

The President’s charge to create this detailed report demonstrates his understanding of the fact that these issues require careful consideration as well as his appreciation for freedoms that are cherished by Americans of all faiths and none.  As it forms partnerships to serve people in need, the government must respect church-state separation and religious liberty principles. 

The list of recommendations and model answers to anticipated questions is impressive. Here, for example, are the White House's guidelines on how religious organizations receiving federal funding should separate their explicitly religious activities from the content of Federally-funded activities.

        • Implement the use of time sheets that keep track of all staff hours charged to the Federally-funded program, whether the staff work in other programs or not.

        • Require that staff working in both Federally-funded programs and other programs indicate clearly how many hours are spent on each program.

        • Require that any staff working on both a Federally-funded program and a non-Federally-funded program, at the same site and on the same day, clearly indicate both the number of hours spent on the Federally-funded program and the actual time during which they worked on that program. The hours should reflect that time spent on any program with explicitly religious activity has been completely separated from hours during which time was spent on the Federally-funded program.

      • Show cost allocations for all items and activities that involve both Federally-funded and non-Federally funded programs, such as staff time, equipment, or other expenses, such as travel to event sites.

In addition, the guidelines provided instruction on how federal agencies should review and monitor federal fund recipients, and train government agency workers in the rules preserving church-state separation.
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