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Baptists and Church-State Advocacy: An Analysis of the Effects of Membership Opinion on Lobbying the Supreme Court
Unformatted Document Text:  As for government funding of faith-based initiatives, the BJC strongly opposes “charitable choice,” a major component of the faith-based initiative movement promoted by the George W. Bush administration. The BJC opposes charitable choice policy because it does not require churches to form separate 501(c)(3) organizations. The BJC argues that charitable choice violates the Establishment Clause, because money flows directly to houses of worship. 11 Similarly, the BJC officially opposes vouchers for students to attend private, religious schools, as they view this as an Establishment Clause violation. 12 The ERLC has not taken official positions on charitable choice or school voucher programs. However, they have filed briefs in federal courts supporting these programs. 13 It is clear from the official position statements of the BJC and ERLC posted on their websites that they take different views on Establishment Clause issues. The BJC prefers the separation between the government and religious institutions and the separation between the government and religious expression. They oppose direct government funding or support of religious activities. The ERLC, on the other hand, takes a middle-ground, accommodation position, neither supporting strict separation nor supporting government establishment of religion. If the government does not prefer one religion over another, protecting the rights of minority religions, government accommodation of religion is accepted. Comparing these positions to the opinion data of members of these two groups, there is stronger congruence between the opinions of the ERLC members and the official positions taken by the ERLC 11 1 K. Hollyn Hollman, “Next chapter of faith-based initiatives debate approaches” (Washington, DC: Baptist Joint Committee, July-August 2008). Accessed December 9, 2008 < http://bjconline.org/news/news/082008_hollman_nextfaithbasedchapter.htm >. 12 1 Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “Issues > Government Funding of Religion > School Vouchers.” (Washington, DC: Baptist Joint Committee, 2006). Accessed December 9, 2008 < http://bjconline.org/issues/vouchers.htm >. 13 1 See Warner Jackson v. John T. Benson and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. 22

Authors: Lewis, Andrew.
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As for government funding of faith-based initiatives, the BJC strongly opposes 
“charitable choice,” a major component of the faith-based initiative movement promoted by the 
George W. Bush administration.  The BJC opposes charitable choice policy because it does not 
require churches to form separate 501(c)(3) organizations.  The BJC argues that charitable choice 
violates the Establishment Clause, because money flows directly to houses of worship.
Similarly, the BJC officially opposes vouchers for students to attend private, religious schools, as 
they view this as an Establishment Clause violation.
  The ERLC has not taken official positions 
on charitable choice or school voucher programs.  However, they have filed briefs in federal 
courts supporting these programs.
It is clear from the official position statements of the BJC and ERLC posted on their 
websites that they take different views on Establishment Clause issues.  The BJC prefers the 
separation between the government and religious institutions and the separation between the 
government and religious expression.  They oppose direct government funding or support of 
religious activities.  The ERLC, on the other hand, takes a middle-ground, accommodation 
position, neither supporting strict separation nor supporting government establishment of 
religion.  If the government does not prefer one religion over another, protecting the rights of 
minority religions, government accommodation of religion is accepted.  Comparing these 
positions to the opinion data of members of these two groups, there is stronger congruence 
between the opinions of the ERLC members and the official positions taken by the ERLC 
11
1
 K. Hollyn Hollman, “Next chapter of faith-based initiatives debate approaches” (Washington, DC:  Baptist 
Joint Committee, July-August 2008).  Accessed December 9, 2008 
<
>.
12
1
 Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “Issues > Government Funding of Religion > School 
Vouchers.” (Washington, DC:  Baptist Joint Committee, 2006).  Accessed December 9, 2008 
<
>.
13
1
 See Warner Jackson v. John T. Benson and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.
22


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