NEWS from the National Council of Churches, USA
Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2252  |  E-mail news@ncccusa.org   |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home


NCC's Bob Edgar Commends Bush,
Endorses Faith-Based Partnership Plan

February 8, 2002, NEW YORK CITY – General Secretary Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches has written to President Bush expressing support for the “Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment” (CARE) bill advancing the President’s faith-based initiative in Congress, and commending President Bush for his leadership on the issue.

At the same time, Dr. Edgar cautioned that the plan must receive adequate funding for the public-private partnership to succeed.

“We will encourage others to support the ‘CARE’ proposal and will work for its passage and implementation,” Dr. Edgar wrote, adding that “those in need must not be made to wait. Religious and community agencies offer great gifts to the provision of social services…and charitable giving can be fostered in their support.”

Dr. Edgar, a former six-term member of Congress, and NCC Deputy General Secretary for Research and Planning Dr. Eileen Lindner were both participants in the bi-partisan consensus group organized by Senator Rick Santorum and former Senator Harris Wofford to study the complex issue of tax support for private and religious social services.  Many of the group’s 29 recommendations are incorporated in the proposed legislation.

The letter underlined what Dr. Edgar had emphasized in a meeting at the White House with President Bush last week:  the importance of “an overall increase in the funding available for this public-private partnership to assure its capacity to address the concerns of those on the margins of society.”  Dr. Edgar said he is encouraged by the projection of modest increases but, “in the present economic climate the prestige and leadership of the White House will be required to secure more federal resources to provide adequate services to the needy.”

“We know how to work with the unemployed, the poor and many of the disabled in their struggles to gain employment, to fully support their families and to be productive citizens. It would be tragic if we lacked the vision and the nerve to make that investment. We look to you for the leadership to enable this partnership to flourish in ways that strengthen all of us as a people and a nation,” Dr. Edgar concluded in his letter to President Bush.

The National Council of Churches is the nation’s largest ecumenical organization, with 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member communions comprising 50 million adherents in 140,000 local congregations.  The full text of Dr. Edgar’s letter to President Bush follows.

February 8, 2002
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the National Council of Churches -- 36 communions, 140,000 churches and 50,000,000 Americans – I write with gratitude for your leadership in bringing forward the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act of 2002.

A year ago your faith-based initiative stimulated a broad, national debate on the role and efficacy of religious and community-based organizations in the provision of social services. From the perspective of many in the religious community, the stakes included this nation’s treasured guarantees on the separation of church and state and also the ability of religious bodies to critique public policies with integrity.

These important issues have been addressed in a number of venues in recent months. We have worked hard to contribute to those discussions, particularly within the bi-partisan process initiated by Senator Rick Santorum and former Senator Harris Wofford. We are especially pleased to see the fruits of this remarkable consensus group so fully reflected in the proposed legislation.

Mr. President, we salute you and your administration for encouraging the democratic process to work. As a result, the present bill should enjoy the broad support of Americans concerned both for those in need and for the independence and integrity of religious bodies.

We will encourage others to support the "CARE" proposal and will work for its passage and implementation. Those in need must not be made to wait. Religious and community agencies offer great gifts to the provision of social services that empower recipients, and charitable giving can be fostered in their support.

As a former member of Congress, I know how difficult it can be to craft legislation that will address a pressing need and engage the most effective mechanisms to get the job done. The CARE bill is an example of such leadership. 

In our meeting with you last week, Mr. President, I noted the importance of an overall increase in the funding available for this public-private partnership to assure its capacity to address the concerns of those on the margins of society. I am encouraged by the projection of modest increases but know that in the present economic climate the prestige and leadership of the White House will be required to secure more federal resources to provide services to the neediest among us.

 We know how to work with the unemployed, the poor and many of the disabled in their struggles to gain employment, to fully support their families and to be productive citizens. It would be tragic if we lacked the vision and the nerve to make that investment. We look to you for the leadership to enable this partnership to flourish in ways that strengthen all of us as a people and a nation. 

May God's grace sustain you.

            Sincerely, Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches


About the National Council of Churches
NCC Home Page