Some Coast Charities Hesitant To Back Bush's Funding Proposal

President George W. Bush says the government must do more to help faith-based social programs. This week he sent a proposal to Congress that would open all federal grant programs to religious groups.

Because of current laws against federal money going to religious based charities, Back Bay Mission relies on private contributions. Charity workers say while they are delighted about the proposal, they want to know what strings are attached to taking government money.

"There's always nervousness when you're talking about receiving government funds that you don't want to be restricted in a way that they might require," Back Bay Mission Executive Director Shari Prestemon said.  "You want to be true to who you are and how you want to give your services."

It's obvious that religion plays an integral part at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission. Officials say government funding is not worth the possibility of having to separate the ministry from the charitable work.

"We are a religious, faith-based charitable organization," Rev. Tom Mims said. "Our responsibility here is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we probably wouldn't ask for the funds, because we don't want our hands tied."

Under current law, religious groups must create separate organizations that do not promote religion or discriminate in hiring to compete for grants.

by Danielle Thomas