Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization — reacted to a report released this afternoon by the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives which documents a persistent bias against small faith- and community-based social service agencies by federal grant programs.
The report, “Unlevel Playing Field,” summarizes the findings of program audits conducted in the federal Departments of Justice, Labor, Education, Health & Human Services and Housing & Urban Development. Despite the fact that government awards several hundred billions of dollars to non-governmental agencies each year, the report concluded that both regulatory rules as well as bureaucratic habits resulted in a miniscule percentage of those grants being awarded to faith-based groups, especially smaller ones.
Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the UOJCA, issued the following statement after the release of “Unlevel Playing Field” in Washington:
For many months now, many of us in America’s faith community have been arguing that there is a bias against faith-based charities in America’s social welfare system, and that if we wish to bring new solutions and new relief to Americans in need we must remove that bias and allow faith-based social service providers to compete for and receive federal grants on an equal basis with secular agencies. Opponents have argued that there is no such bias and that we do not need charitable choice legislation. Today’s White House report – Unlevel Playing Field – makes the case that this bias exists and that it must be eradicated.
We look forward to the U.S. Senate taking up this matter in the fall and bringing new relief and resources to America’s social welfare challenges through charitable choice legislation.