Bush Faith-Based Plan Undermines Safety & Science

Bush Faith-Based Plan Undermines Safety & Science

January 28, 2003Austin, TX The President’s proposal to divert millions of dollars to faith-based substance abuse programs would rollback decades of scientific practice and jeopardize people in need, according to the watchdog group the Texas Freedom Network.

“The President’s proposal to fund religious drug treatment programs would turn back the medical clock to the 19th Century,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which has monitored the Texas Faith-Based Initiative crafted by then-Governor Bush.

“The President values programs that say ‘We can pray you out of your addiction’ more than programs that say ‘We will treat your addiction with counseling, medical treatment and spirituality’,” said Smoot. “Even more outrageous is his insistence that taxpayers foot the bill for this dangerous approach.”

“The faith-based treatment centers the President wants to fund say that addiction is a sin, not a disease. They believe addiction should be treated with worship and prayer exclusively,” said Smoot. These programs, like Victory Fellowship and Teen Challenge, have been openly hostile to scientifically-based treatments and have repeatedly failed to meet state health and safety standards in Texas.

As Texas Governor, George W. Bush championed a law to exempt faith-based substance abuse programs from state licensing – and all the health and safety standards that accompany that license. Faith-based addiction programs in Texas are now completely exempt from all employee training and licensing requirements, medical treatment guidelines, abuse and neglect prevention training, and client rights and grievance procedures.

“Spirituality has long been a critical component of successful substance abuse treatment, but the President’s initiative has nothing to do with programs that combine spiritual and medical approaches, like most mainstream, religiously-affiliated treatment programs,” said Smoot.

In a report released late last year, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund details consequences and case studies of the faith-based addiction programs championed in Texas by then-Governor George W. Bush.