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Falwell Expresses “Deep Concerns” About Federal Funding for Social Services

Jerry Falwell said he had “deep concerns” about President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and opposed funding of certain religious groups, including Muslims, according to an exclusive interview with Beliefnet.

Bush signed an executive order in late January to launch the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives that seeks to support social work by religious organizations. Bush and his surrogates believe religious organizations will be more successful than government at ending social ills. 
“I think the Moslem faith teaches hate,” Falwell told Beliefnet. “I think that when persons are clearly bigoted towards other persons in the human family, they should be disqualified from funds. For that reason, Islam should be out the door before they knock.”
“It…concerns me that once the pork barrel is filled, suddenly the Church of Scientology, the Jehovah Witnesses, the various and many denominations and religious groups–and I don’t say those words in a pejorative way–begin applying for money,” Falwell said.
Falwell said funding should also be restricted to only organizations with a proven track record among the poor. A criterion should be established which makes “only seasoned veterans in the ministry to the poor and imprisoned even eligible to apply.”
Additionally, new ministries would not be allowed to apply for federal funds, he said.
“I’m saying to the younger group ‘be careful.’…That’s how it works in most of the socialist countries,” Falwell said. “Be very careful that you don’t surrender any of your freedoms, any of your liberties.”
Two weeks ago, Pat Robertson, another leader of the religious right, said he had concerns about Bush’s faith-based initiative.
“This thing could be a real Pandora’s box,” Robertson told viewers of the 700 Club.
Robertson expressed opposition to government funding of religious groups like the Unification Church, Hare Krishnas and Church of Scientology.