President Barak Obama issued an executive order on November 17 that sheds light on the new policy-making criteria for religious social-service providers who receive federal money in the way of grants and contracts. This order ensures that the money is only used for secular purposes.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “President Obama signed an executive order on Wednesday to clarify how the constitutional separation of church and state affects religious charities that get federal money to provide social services.
“It said, for example, that such groups must separate their religious activities from the programs that get government dollars and refer people who are uncomfortable with the organization’s religious nature to other providers.”
This order allows for the government to post online all of the rules that are noted, in addition to a listing of all the social-service providers who receive federal money.
“However, charities do not need to remove religious art or symbols in rooms where they provide social services, and they may use religious terms in their names, select board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in mission statements of governing documents.”
This order reverses Bush administration policies that allowed churches to co-mingle religious activities with government-funded programs. If a religious tax-exempt organization or charity has any question about the services it provides, the non-profit needs to consult with its attorney to make sure they are in compliance with this new order.