Religious conservatives and others have repeatedly cited the Church of Scientology as an example of a non-mainstream group that should not be allowed to compete for social service funding through President Bush's proposed faith-based initiative, which would make available more federal funds for social programs run by religious groups.

John J. DiIulio Jr., director of the newly established White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has stated repeatedly that all religious groups would be allowed to compete for funds under the program.

The Church of Scientology on Tuesday, April 3, issued the following statement in response to the criticism it has received.

Regarding President Bush's Faith-based Initiative Regarding President Bush's Faith-based Initiative

Discussion of President Bush's plan for the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives has in some cases turned ugly. Frankly, the clergy involved should know better.

The Church of Scientology does not attempt to judge or pass comment on the religion of others. We respect man no matter his race, color or creed. We respect the religious beliefs and race, color or creed. We respect the religious beliefs and practices of others. Our creed, in fact, embodies our belief that all men have "inalienable rights to their own religious practices and their performance." "And that no agency less than God has the power to suspend or set aside these rights." We exemplify these beliefs in our ecumenical relations.

While every person is entitled to their views, even those who concede they are not based on any personal knowledge or fact, it is not even remotely productive to make sweeping accusations that demean and vilify the religion of millions of Americans.

Government funding of social betterment activities is nothing new. Religious charities, such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Services of America and the YMCA collect billions of dollars in federal money for their charitable programs. The organizations that sponsor these charitable activities happen to be affiliated with major religious movements. Up to now, this has not been controversial. When the programs are chosen based on the merits and effective results, then there are no reasons for complaint.

We support very effective drug rehabilitation and literacy programs that have always enjoyed excellent relations with the communities they serve, and they are open to people of all religions. These programs have freed more than 250,000 people from the ravages of drug addiction and have helped thousands more learn to read.

The religious leaders of this country should not be climbing over the backs of their brethren in a mad scramble for government coins. Clergy of all faiths need to work together to solve the problems of escalating drug use, crime and illiteracy and the crashing moral values in this country. That is our traditional role in the community as religious institutions and it is a role we are uniquely designed to fulfill.

Janet Weiland

Vice President

Church of Scientology International

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