Indiana University Shows that Faith-Based Social Service Providers are Ineffective

( [email protected] ) Nov 08, 2003 11:18 AM EST

A new study was done on religious and secular social-service providers in three states -- Indiana, Massachusetts, and North Carolina to confirm whether or not government funding of religious social providers is effective. The study found that government funding is based on false assumptions.

Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis concluded a three-year study of the effectiveness of faith-based social-service providers Nov. 5. The project, has been ongoing since 1996 by researchers from the university's Center for Urban Policy when Congress allowed government funding to be used for social services of churches and other religious organizations.

President Bush has attempted to further expand the number of government programs that can provide funding to religious charities.

Although advocates of the so-called "charitable-choice" programs have often argued that religiously motivated charities are more effective in their work than the governmental or secular group but the Charitable Choice Research came up with the results that are opposite to what has been thought.

The Charitable Choice Research Project found:

- Religious organizations offered job-training programs to about 31 percent of their clients in full-time employment, while secular job-training organizations offered to 53 percent of their clients;

- Those who are placed in jobs from secular job-training programs were more likely to have health benefits than those who were placed in the religious programs; and

- "Relatively few" new religious groups in the states studied have begun accepting government money to perform social services.

Many opponents of charitable choice argue providing government grants to religious groups is violating the Constitution's ban on government endorsement of religion.

Federal courts have confirmed that direct government funds cannot go to fund worship, devotional activity or other inherently religious acts.

However, the White House and other charitable-choice advocates have argued that religious groups can use public funds for the secular aspects of their work while maintaining their religious character in other parts of their work.

Sheila Suess Kennedy, the project’s lead researcher and a law professor at the university, spoke of the unfamiliarity of the congregational leaders with constitutional constraints. "We found that states did not monitor constitutional violations and did little to educate [religious] contractors about constitutional compliance," said Sheila Suess Kennedy, "We also found that congregational leaders had little familiarity with applicable constitutional constraints."

The surveyed showed that 67 percent of congregational leaders were unware of the constitutional issues that government money cannot pay for devotional activities, such as prayer and Bible study.