Faith-Based Timeline

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August 1996 -- President Clinton signs HR-3734 “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” (PRWORA) into law.  Oklahoma Representative J.C. Watts sponsors the House bill.  Missouri Senator John Ashcroft drafted the original version of the legislation.   The bill purportedly “ends welfare as we know it.”


July 1998 -- Howard Hendrick, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), reportedly asks Brad Yarborough, a former Nazarene Church pastor, to attend federal conferences on the role of faith-based organizations in social services delivery. Yarborough then develops and distributes a “Planning Document” on Oklahoma’s participation in the federal faith-based initiative. 


March 1999 — Oklahoma has already reduced the number of TANF recipients by 60% from the 1996 level.


Spring 1999 —  Governor Keating launches the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative to encourage “healthy marriages.”  $10 million of TANF funds are allocated “to keep marriage/divorce on the public agenda, resources centers, mentoring programs, education and training programs and research and evaluation.”

Spring 2000 – With support from Governor Keating, Jerry Regier, Secretary for Health and Human Services, establishes an “Office of Faith-Based Liaison” based on recommendations in Yarborough’s “Strategic Document.”  Yarborough is appointed as the first director.  He reports directly to Regier.  His office is funded by federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grants.


July 2000 -- Regier renames the “Office of Faith-Based Liaison” the “Oklahoma Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives” (OFBCI.)


January 2001 -- President Bush’s establishes a Federal Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives by Executive Order.  The office is based at the White House with John DiIulio as Director.  A “Compassion Capital Fund” of $70 million a year is promised for the office.  $30 million is delivered.  Most of the money was earmarked for “intermediary organizations.”  David Kuo, Special Assistant to the President from 2001 to 2003, wrote, “It was obvious that the ratings (of organizations receiving funds) were a farce. . . . Once the list was made public it would show once and for all that the initiative was purely about paying off political friends for their support.” (pp. 214-216)


Early 2001 — Brad Yarborough, Director of Oklahoma’s Faith-Based Office, grants contracts to the Cornerstone Assistance Networks of OK City ($60K) and Tulsa ($40K) to serve as “intermediary organizations.”  Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries, a well known and widely respected 64 year old Interfaith Social Service agency, had not been included in bidding on the contract for “Intermediary Organization” in Tulsa.  Metropolitan Ministries of Central Oklahoma had been similarly omitted from bidding on the OK City contract.


April 2001 – the FaithLinks website is established.


May 17, 2001 – Gov. Keating’s Executive Order 2001-18 does not mention the    OFBCI but merely directs all state agencies to: 


“make all necessary changes to actively engage in collaborative efforts (in the form of contracts, grants, vouchers, or other forms of disbursements. Or volunteer programs) with FBOs for the provision of social services on the same basis as other non-governmental providers.”


May 21, 2001 — Congress approves the President’s $1.7 trillion tax-cut bill.  $6 billion per year in tax credits for groups helping the poor were eliminated from the bill.  Estate and inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy reduce charitable giving by more than $5 billion per year.


August 2001 — John DiIulio resigns as head of the White House Office of Faith-Based initiatives.  He says, “What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis. [They] consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible."


December 2001 — The White House and GOP Congressional leadership refuse to support a bi-partisan effort to authorize a modest increase in funding for social services block grants (TANF) or pass tax cuts for charitable giving.


February 2002 — Jim Towey appointed Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives — now under the office of USA Freedom Corps.  Plans are made to use White House Faith-Based Office events in 20 strategic Congressional Districts in an effort to woo minority communities and help re-elect GOP incumbents.


November 2002 — GOP incumbents were re-elected in 19 out of 20 of the Congressional Districts where the White House Faith-Based Office hosted “Rountable events.”


December 2002 — David Kuo calculated that the current administration was spending $20 million a year less on social services than the previous administration.


January 13, 2003 -- Gov. Henry’s Executive Order 2003-7 does not reauthorize Keating’s Executive Order 2001-18.   Henry, however, tacitly approves of the OFBCI by reappointing Hendrick as Director of Oklahoma’s DHS and allowing Hendrick to sustain the Office.


December 2003 — David Kuo resigns from his position with the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.


2004 — The White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives hosted dozens of conferences in politically strategic cities in an effort to garner support from Hispanic and black religious leaders for the President’s re-election.   At the last minute, an extra conference was added in mid-October in Miami, Florida.


February 2005 — Staff at the White House Faith-Based Office was cut by nearly 30%.


Early 2006 — Total funding going to faith-based groups declined.  The President’s new budget contained across the board cuts to social programs.


April 2006 — Brad Yarborough resigns as Director of Oklahoma’s Faith-Based Office.


May 2007 — Robin Jones, an Independent Baptist associated with Oklahoma Family Policy Council and Oklahoma Prison Fellowship was appointed Director of the Oklahoma Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.


May 24, 2007 -- Oklahoma’s HB-2101 authorized a “revolving fund for the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives” to be “used for grants to volunteer organizations including, but not limited to, faith-based organizations” involved in the reintegration of prison inmates.  For the first time, the OK legislature approved the use of state tax dollars to support sectarian organizations.




David Kuo, Tempting Faith, Free Press, 2006.


Brett Sharp, Great Expectations and Recent Frustrations:  Oklahoma’s Continuing Quest to Partner with Faith-Based Organizations,  Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare




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