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Faith-Based Services  VS. 501 (c) 3 Organizations


Advocates of  faith-based social services are often confused about the difference between services provided by 501 (c) 3 non-profit charities and social services provided by churches and other faith-based organizations.


Some 501 (C) 3 organizations are religiously based.  Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services are examples of this type organization.  These are organizations that have separated the religious component from the service that they provide in order to be eligible to receive government funding.  They  are not permitted to prosyletize when they provide their services.  They have mechanisms to give public accounting for the government funds that they receive.  They provide services to everyone without regard to race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Nor are they permitted to discriminate in hiring practices whenever government money is involved.


Churches and other religious organizations are exempt from laws against discrimination.  They give no accounting to the public for the funds that they receive.  They freely prosyletize.   They freely discriminate in their hiring practices and in providing services.


These differences are what makes government funding of faith-based social services so controversial.



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