Friends, please find below an update from the chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Melissa Rogers:
Final Vote Tallies on Non-Consensus Reform Report Issues
We would like to announce the final tallies of the Advisory Council votes on the non-consensus Reform Report issues. Those tallies are listed below, with the votes favoring each option listed under the relevant answer.
Please note that subsequent to the post on February 4, Council member Diane Baillargeon changed her votes from abstentions on both questions to the answers reflected below.
Please contact us if you have any questions about these issues. Thank you for your interest in the work of the Advisory Council.
1. Should the government allow nongovernmental providers of federally funded social services to provide those services in rooms that contain religious art, scripture, messages, or symbols?
a. No. Amend existing regulations, guidance, and an executive order to permit nongovernmental organizations to offer federally funded programming only in areas devoid of religious art, scripture, messages, or symbols.
2 votes – Fred Davie and Nancy Ratzan
b.Amend existing regulations, guidance, and an executive order to allow federally funded programming in areas with these religious items only when there is no available space in the organizations’ offices without these items and when removing or covering such displays would be infeasible (e.g., where it would take great effort to remove or cover a religious icon mounted high on a wall or remove or cover a large statute). If these measures are not feasible and beneficiaries object to the presence of such symbols, beneficiaries must have access to an alternative provider to which they do not object. (See Reform Report Recommendation 10: Assure the Religious Liberty Rights of the Clients and Beneficiaries of Federally Funded Programs by Strengthening Appropriate Protections, pages 27-29.)
7 votes – Anju Bhargava, Peg Chemberlin, Harry Knox, Eboo Patel, David Saperstein, Bill Shaw, and Sharon Watkins
c. Yes. Neither require nor encourage the removal of religious symbols where services subsidized by federal grant or contact funds are provided, but instead encourage all providers to be sensitive to, and to accommodate where feasible, those beneficiaries who may object to the presence of religious symbols. If these voluntary measures do not meet the objections of the beneficiaries, those beneficiaries must have access to an alternative provider to which they do not object. (See Reform Report Recommendation 10: Assure the Religious Liberty Rights of the Clients and Beneficiaries of Federally Funded Programs by Strengthening Appropriate Protections, pages 27-29 of the Reform Report.)
16 votes – Diane Baillargeon, Charles Blake, Noel Castellanos, Arturo Chavez, Nathan Diament, Joel Hunter, Vashti McKenzie, Dalia Mogahed, Otis Moss, Frank Page, Anthony Picarello, Melissa Rogers, Richard Stearns, Larry Snyder, Judy Vredenburgh, and Jim Wallis
2. Should the government require houses of worship to form separate corporations to receive direct federal social service funds?
a. Yes, the government should require houses of worship that wish to receive direct federal social service funds to establish separate corporations as a necessary means for achieving church-state separation and protecting religious autonomy, while also urging states to reduce any unnecessary administrative costs and burdens associated with attaining this status.
13 votes -- Diane Baillargeon, Anju Bhargava, Charles Blake, Fred Davie, Harry Knox, Vashti McKenzie, Otis Moss, Nancy Ratzan, Melissa Rogers, David Saperstein, Bill Shaw, Jim Wallis, and Sharon Watkins
b. No, the government should not require separate incorporation, because it is not always the best means to achieve these goals, and because it may be prohibitively costly and onerous, particularly for smaller organizations, resulting in the disruption and deterrence of effective and constitutionally permissible relationships.
12 votes – Noel Castellanos, Arturo Chavez, Peg Chemberlin, Nathan Diament, Joel Hunter, Dalia Mogahed, Frank Page, Eboo Patel, Anthony Picarello, Larry Snyder, Richard Stearns, and Judy Vredenburgh
Melissa Rogers is the chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships