By Kent Larsen
Don't Give Money to LDS Church, Many Say in Poll
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative
enjoy's broad support, according to a new poll, but most respondents don't
want money going to new and minority religions, and for nearly half the
respondents that includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The poll was taken by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press
and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life from March 5th to 18th. 2,041
adults were contacted by telephone, giving the poll an error margin of plus
or minus 2.5 percentage points.
The poll explored American feelings about the controversial proposal,
finding that 75% of Americans support it. But when those same people look at
the details of the funding plan, they are less in favor. "People like the
concept," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press, "but when you question them about the specifics, there
are lots of reservations they have that will have to be addressed if there
is to be public support for this initiative."
When the possibility that money might go to minority groups arises, however,
support drops significantly. Just 38% believe Muslim groups should get
money, Buddhits get support from 29% and the Church of Scientology gets 26%.
The LDS Church is supported by significantly more, but barely more than
half. Just 51% approving the idea that the church should get funding from
the initiative. But approval wasn't much higher for most religions, with the
Catholic Church getting the strongest support, at 62%.
The survey hints at one underlying reason for the lack of support for
certain religions. 60% of respondents don't like giving money to groups that
encourage conversion or proselyting. Political scientist Alan Wolfe of
Boston College expressed surprise at the results, "I was struck by the large
number who don't want tax money going to groups that encourage conversion.
The tolerance Americans have is related to the idea that religion is
essentially one's own business, and they get uncomfortable about too much
Those surveyed also expressed reservations about funding groups that only
hire people of their own faith to run social services. Other respondents
worried that religions might insist that those using their services convert
or be proselyted. Still others worried that government would begin
regulating those religions that participate. The Pew Center's Kohut says
that this makes the proposal weak. "It's a bucket of worms. Public opinion
is all over the place in this survey."
While the LDS Church has not taken a formal stand on the proposal, some news
reports indicate that the Church would not participate. However, a
third-party report does indicate that LDS Church President Gordon B.
Hinckley does not support the program. Columnist and talk show host Larry
King reported in February that Hinckley told him the Church would not
participate, fearing "once the government is involved, regulations follow."
Support for Religion-Based Plan Is Hedged
New York Times 11Apr01 T1
By Laurie Goodstein
Public wary of funding faith-based social services
Christian Science Monitor 11Apr01 T1
By Jane Lampman: Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
While Americans like the idea, support weakens over specifics, a survey finds.
Poll finds Americans overwhelmingly supports president's charity proposal
Houston TX Chronicle 11Apr01 T1
By Julie Mason: Houston Chronicle
There's division over which faith-based groups should get the money
LDS Church: No Comment on Bush 'Charitable Choice' Plan
Larry King: Hinckley Opposes Bush Faith Initiative