Press

NGLTF Releases Report on Government-Funded Religion Initiatives

Date: 
February 06, 2001

George W. Bush's proposals to channel federal funds to faith-based social service programs pose a fundamental threat to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force warned today.

NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo warned that Bush's proposals pose a threat not only to GLBT social service workers and service recipients, but also to any person in need of services whose faith tradition may be different from that of the provider institution.

"Youth, elders, the homeless, women seeking reproductive counseling and individuals who seek treatment for alcohol or drug abuse all face a very real threat that services will be offered in an unfriendly and hostile setting," Toledo said. "For generations, churches, synagogues and other faith institutions have worked wonders for people from all walks of life. But our nation's founders never envisioned that these institutions would replace government. And our founders never envisioned that government would 'establish' churches or synagogues through funding or through other formal relationships."

NGLTF today released a report that lays out the pitfalls inherent in Bush's proposals. The report outlines why such initiatives represent a threat to the GLBT community, and what problems have surfaced in Bush's home state of Texas when similar initiatives were put in place. The report may be found on the "W Watch" section of NGLTF's web site, at www.ngltf.org/federal/wwatch.htm.

The report details the problems encountered when Bush, as Texas governor, pushed the Texas Legislature to create a new state agency, known as the Texas Association of Christian Childcare Agencies, as a way to circumvent existing state licensing procedures for privately run homes that serve troubled youth.

One of the first entities licensed by the new agency was a group of homes run by the People's Baptist Church of Corpus Christi and founded decades ago by fundamentalist Lester Roloff. Subsequently, according to allegations that surfaced in both media reports and a civil lawsuit, three youth who lived in the homes were whipped, beaten, denied food and water, and forced to dig a 15-foot pit. The superintendent of one of the homes later was charged with unlawful restraint, a felony.

"We won't let Bush tear down the historic separation of church and state," Toledo said. "His proposals also could eliminate accountability and endanger the very clients that social services are intended to help."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.