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Clinton Restricts New `Charitable Choice' Law.

Churches may not get tax dollars through a recently passed federal social services bill after all.

President Bill Clinton in October signed legislation that renews funding for the Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) program but at the same time took steps to limit spending the money with churches.

The measure includes a "charitable choice" provision sponsored by Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) that allows churches and other religiously affiliated ministries to contract with the government to handle the more than $500 million in CSBG funds.

However, when Clinton signed S. 2206 into law, he clarified that his administration considers it unconstitutional for the government to finance "pervasively sectarian" organizations such as churches. He said officials will consider the "structure and operations" of religious organizations to determine their eligibility.

The statement was significant for those concerned with church-state separation because it draws necessary constitutional lines regarding the use of tax aid by religious groups.
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Publication:Church & State
Date:Dec 1, 1998
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