The campaign for faith-based social services is “opening up a new front” as religious and political leaders press businesses to drop their common practice of restricting donations to religious groups.
The evangelical newsweekly World (June 16) reports that six of the 10 largest corporate givers in the U.S. explicitly rule out or restrict donations to faith-based groups. President George W. Bush recently took up the cause, arguing that the federal government is “no longer discriminating against faith-based organizations, and neither should corporate America.”
The figures on corporate restrictions come from a study by the Capital Research Center, a conservative think tank on charity and public policy. In researching corporations’ web sites, there were often disclaimers on religious giving, such as General Motors (number one in corporate giving) declaring that religious organizations are “generally not” targeted for contributions.
While AT&T will only fund groups that are “nonsectarian and nondenominational,” others permitted some funding to religious groups. Wal-Mart (the number two corporate benefactor) clearly ran against the current, with about “every other grant” going to a faith-based charity, according to the study. World notes that the effort to extend corporate giving to faith-based groups is about to get a major shot in the arm with the founding of two new nonprofit groups that will work at the “crossroads of business, politics, and faith-based initiatives.”
Michael Joyce, the former head of the influential Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (which seeded and sustained many conservative causes in the U.S.) will head a Washington-based lobbying group for members of Congress and others about Bush’s faith-based policies. He is starting another organization to be based in Phoenix, Ariz., that will seek to educate the public and private donors “for the long haul” on the same concerns.
(World, P.O. Box 20002, Asheville, NC 28802-8202)