Faith-Based Initiative Reaps Bitter Fruit In Texas

Faith-Based Initiative Reaps Bitter Fruit In Texas

October 10, 2002

Washington, DC As the Bush administration moves forward with a sweeping overhaul of faith-based social service programs, new evidence from his similar initiatives as Texas Governor shows disturbing consequences, according to a report issued today by Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

When Governor of Texas, George W. Bush launched an aggressive campaign to deregulate faith-based providers and increase the financial resources made available to faith-based programs. Critics say the state’s five-year record with the Bush Faith-Based Initiative has been devastating.

Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, said, “What’s been a disaster in Texas can only be a disaster for the nation. The Texas record is as devastating as it is illuminating, and that’s why the Bush administration is sweeping it under the rug.”
As national policymakers debate the Faith-Based Initiative, folks from Texas say they already know and the nation should be wary.

“Five years into the Faith-Based Initiative, the Texas program is unregulated, prone to favoritism and co-mingling of funds, and has proven to jeopardize the well-being of the very people it is supposed to serve.” Smoot added.

Teresa Calalay came to Washington today to tell national policymakers about her personal experience with the Texas Faith-Based Initiative. In Texas, George Bush led changes in state law that relaxed regulations and licensing requirements for faith-based children’s services and fully exempted faith-based chemical dependency programs from state licensing, as well as most of the state’s health and safety standards.

“So much good work can be done through faith-based programs, but we need to keep outside eyes on these groups or you invite abuse of the system—and even abuse of those who came there seeking help,” said Calalay, whose son Justin was physically abused at the Roloff Homes. The Roloff Homes are a religious children’s home with a history of confirmed abuse and objection to state oversight which were allowed to re-open without a license under the Faith-Based Initiative in Texas.

“You can’t be in the light and in the dark at the same time. If you’re walking in the light you should not care who’s looking at you,” said Calalay. “Only fringe groups want to operate in the dark. The nation should look to what happened in Texas so it doesn’t happen again.”