Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, applauded Vice President Al Gore’s embrace of charitable choice initiatives in a speech delivered yesterday in Atlanta. Charitable choice is the concept of providing religious institutions with government funds -on the basis of religion neutral criteria – for the purpose, typically, of supporting their social service programs for which the government already supports other non-government service providers.
In a letter to the Vice President, Orthodox Union President Dr. Mandell Ganchrow and IPA director Nathan Diament stated that ‘you have recognized, potential examples of revolutionary public-private partnerships abound; whether it is drug counseling and rehabilitation, providing child care or job skill retraining – there are a variety of “social services” that are provided to citizens by secular private entities who receive government grants for doing so. But there exists an even greater potential for building a better society if faith based institutions are invited into this enterprise because, as you said, “faith works.”‘
The letter continued: ‘Some will tell you that such initiatives are unconstitutional and that they risk violating America’s traditional separation between religion and state. These critics are wrong.. Yesterday, in Atlanta, you said: “I believe that faith itself is sometimes essential to spark a personal transformation.” We couldn’t agree more. Our Torah and our experience have taught us this. We applaud your efforts.’