Muslim religious organizations should utilize federally funded programs

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Federal government rewarded generously faith-based organizations in year 2003. A total grant to religious organizations is more than one billion dollars. These grants are still pouring in for those religious organizations that are involved in social services. “The President today announced approximately $188 million in grants to help Americans in need with additional funding of $43 million for the Compassion Capital Fund, which supports the work of over 1,900 local groups and faith-based organizations that assist people in need; $45.5 million for mentoring children of prisoners to care for children at risk and in need of a responsible adult in their lives; and almost $100 million for the Access to Recovery program to help Americans conquer addiction using substance abuse treatment vouchers to access the most effective programs. The President’s FY 2005 budget proposal requests an additional $100 million for the Compassion Capital Fund; an additional $50 million for mentoring children of prisoners; and an additional $200 million for Access to Recovery,” highlights press release issued by White House.

Providing assistance to Americans in need, mentoring children of prisoners, taking care of substance users are not the only social services that are funded by the federal government under Faith-Based and Community Initiative. There are over 150 federally funded programs. They include all walks of life where less privileged Americans need help. A faith-based organization which is providing services to children under Head Start, keep the kids away from illegal activities under Weed and Seed Program, looking after homeless, building houses for low-income old Americans, or meeting any need of a needy groups is entitled to federal grant. “If you are in the business of caring for people in need, you need money to do your job. Chances are that if you had a little more money, you’d be able to help more people and do your work better. That’s where Federal grants come into play. If you run an organization to help those in need, you may be eligible to receive Federal money through grant programs,” states White House press release.

The main Federal departments involved are Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor and Justice. These institutions have billions of dollars grants for faith-based organizations. Then there are local and state agencies who have direct liaison with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative.

Funding religious organization with the taxpayer money under government policy is a recent chapter in the American history. In the past religious organizations have been deprived of federal funding for social services under the myth of separation of church and state. “President George W. Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative represents a fresh start and bold new approach to government’s role in helping those in need. Too often the government has ignored or impeded the efforts of faith-based and community organizations. Their compassionate efforts to improve their communities have been needlessly and improperly inhibited by bureaucratic red tape and restrictions placed on funding,” states White House press release.

Bush Junior administration removed the bumps on the road that were discriminating the religious organizations when he declared on August 3, 2004. “But I believe one of the most effective ways our government can help those in need is to help the charities and community groups that are doing God’s work every day. That’s what I believe government ought to do. I believe government needs to stand on the side of faith-based groups, not against faith-based groups, when they come to saving lives.”

And now “The White House Office and the Centers for the Faith-Based and Community Initiative — located in seven Federal agencies — are working to support the essential work of these important organizations. Their goal is to make sure that grassroots leaders can compete on an equal footing for federal dollars, receive greater private support, and face fewer bureaucratic barriers,” one White House press release states.

These Executive Orders are the milestones in Faith-Based & Community Initiatives.

– Executive Order 13199 created the White House Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives on January 29, 2001.

– Executive Order 13198 created five Centers for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives on January 29, 2001.

– Executive Order 13280 created two Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives on December 12, 2002.

– Executive Order 13279 requires equal protection for faith-based and community organizations as of December 12, 2002.

– Executive Order 13342 created three new Centers for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives at the Departments of Commerce and Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration on June 1, 2004.

Besides faith-based grants there are billions of dollars in other sectors also. HUD announced on January 03, 2005: ” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has increased its single-family home mortgage limits by more than seven percent. Effective January 1, 2005, FHA will insure single-family home mortgages up to 172,632 in low cost areas and up to $312,895 in high cost areas. The loan limits for two –”three- and four-units dwellings also increased. The FHA is sending letters to thousands of mortgage lenders and brokers to make them aware of the higher rates that can help families. These higher loan limits will help the FHA mortgage insurance program keep pace with the strong housing market while contributing to the Bush Administration’s committee to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by the end of the decade.”

Muslim organizations must avail this opportunity. There are provisions that new organizations are also entitled to faith-based grants. Education sector is the most important one in any community. Caring of children when parents are at work is another one. Adult education is an area that also needs consideration. Think of any social service, and government grant is there.

To Contact White House Office:

Mr. Jim Towey, Director
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20,502
Tel: (202) 456 –” 6708
Fax: (202) 456 –” 7019
www.fbci.gov

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