reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which included a provision, Section 104, which allowed the states to use federal funds to hire religious groups to provide social services. This provision, known as the “Charitable Choice” provision, also gave religious groups that receive federal grants the right to display religious symbols, scripture, and icons while delivering government social services.
The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, formerly the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was established by President George W. Bush just nine days after he took office in January 2001.
On January 29, 2001, President Bush issued two executive orders related to improving the participation of faith-based and community organizations in federal funding supporting the delivery of social services. The first executive order established a White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
The second order established centers to implement this Initiative at the Department of Justice, along with the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. Additional centers have since been established at the Department of Agriculture, Corporation for National Community Service, the Small Business Administration, and the United States Agency for International Development, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs.
In 2002, President Bush stepped up his efforts to funnel federal money to faith-based organizations by establishing the Compassion Capital Fund, which encompassed two grant programs. One provided more than $100 million to teach religious organizations how to get access to public funding. The other administered mini-grants of up to $50,000 directly to faith-based organizations that ran programs such as “healthy marriage” initiatives and served populations such as at-risk youth and the homeless [source: De
Taking It a Step Farther
On May 3, 2018 President Donald Trump signed an “Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” proclamation after the National Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House.
This order establishes a new office at the White House, called the Faith and Opportunity Initiative, that is intended to empower faith-based organizations and “promote religious freedom.”
“The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities and our great country,” Trump said Thursday, the National Day of Prayer, in the White House Rose Garden. “This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.”
“Faith is more powerful than the government, and nothing is more powerful than God,” Trump