WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has issued guidelines for how federally funded faith-based programmes should be administered, ranging from explanations of what is considered “explicitly religious” activity to how organisations can preserve their religious identities while using federal funds to provide services.
Among the guidelines are that faith organisations are not required to remove crucifixes, icons and other religious material from rooms where federally funded services are provided; and that any client who receives services should, on request, be referred to a non-faith-based organisation if one is available.
The guidelines also spell out, for instance, that Alcoholics Anonymous programmes are considered “explicitly religious”.
And, while employees of most federally funded programmes must remain neutral when it comes to religion, participants are free to express their faith, including by prayer.
Among possible exceptions to that policy are programmes that fund some work of prison chaplains, it said.
The document also says the religious character of an organisation may neither favour nor count against applicants for funding. - CNS