EDITORIAL: President Bush should not fund faith-based programs

Separating religion from government is one of the most fundamental concepts of the United States. The Constitution clearly states that no government shall promote or discriminate a religion.

Why can’t President Bush understand this?

He is establishing a White House office that would distribute billions of taxpayers’ dollars to religious groups and charities over the next 10 years. The president wants these groups to compete for taxpayers’ dollars for after-school programs and drug treatment, among other things.

Bush said, “We in government must not fear faith-based programs.”

What the president does not understand is that government does not necessarily fear faith-based programs, but actually is not allowed to be involved with these organizations at all.

Such involvement has been prohibited for more than 200 years. Bush is wrong to think he can change things around. It’s good the president wants to fund community outreach programs. And many religious organizations do benefit the surrounding community.

But they should not be funded by taxpayer dollars. There are plenty of non-religious based programs that do the same type of work and are in dire need of funding. If the president truly wanted to show the nation he has a compassionate heart, he would give the money to these organizations.

Not being able to foresee opposition to giving money to religious-based organizations is an indication that the president underestimated the importance of this issue.

He should be commended for wanting to fund programs that help people.

But Bush’s execution was way off in this decision. Whenever politicians want to include religion in government programs they violate one of the most important laws in maintaining the nation’s freedom to choose.

It is befuddling to think of how President Bush can get away with such a violation.