Tonight, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization representing nearly 1,000 synagogues across the U.S. – applauded President George W. Bush’s call to the U.S. Congress in his State of the Union Address to codify in legislation measures to ensure that religiously affiliated organizations and agencies are treated equally by federal officials and programs.
Over the past three years, President Bush’s “faith based initiative” has identified many practices and rules in an array of federal programs that have treated religiously affiliated agencies in a different, and sometimes discriminatory, manner from secular entities – solely on the basis of the religious affiliation of a particular institution. Such disparate treatment ranged from denying federal disaster relief funds to a Jewish day school damaged by an earthquake to discouraging religious agencies from applying for grants to deliver job training or low-income housing programs. Over the past two years, President Bush has reformed these unfair rules and practices through executive orders issued to the relevant cabinet agencies. Tonight, in his State of the Union Address, the President called upon Congress to secure the equal treatment of America’s religious institutions for the long-term by codifying these reforms in legislation.
The UOJCA has been a strong supporter of President Bush’s faith based initiative since its inception. UOJCA director of public policy Nathan J. Diament issued the following statement with regard to the President’s address this evening:
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America applauds President Bush’s continued commitment to America’s faith- and community-based social service agencies. Americans associated with such organizations are working to serve their fellow man and woman in need. Such efforts must be supported, wherever appropriate and possible, by partnerships with the government. And no agency should be excluded from such productive partnerships merely because its members coalesce around a set of religiously inspired principles. The UOJCA has been a proud partner with President Bush since the inception of his faith based initiative, and we look forward to our continued mutual efforts in the cause of compassion and service.
Diament also praised President Bush’s statements venerating the institution of traditional marriage, stating: “Judaism has long recognized the centrality of the institution of marriage for society and in the raising of children. We fully support President Bush’s veneration of traditional marriage and the need to ensure that marriage is not undermined or redefined in America.”