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Posted 16 Apr 2001   For week ended April 13, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 11Apr01

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 in-your-face evangelicalism."

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

See also:
LDS Church: No Comment on Bush 'Charitable Choice' Plan

Larry King: Hinckley Opposes Bush Faith Initiative


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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information