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Bush 'faith-based initiative' faces legal challenge

[JURIST] President Bush's "faith-based initiative" to get taxpayer funding to religious organizations to provide social services suffered a setback Friday when a three-judge panel of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] reinstated a 2004 lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) [advocacy website] on the grounds that the program may violate the constitutional separation of church and state. President Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives [official website] and similar centers in ten federal agencies by executive order [text] in 2001 in an effort to help faith-based and community organizations receive federal funds to support various social programs. The lawsuit was originally dismissed when a judge ruled that taxpayers could not question appropriations made by the executive branch, but the appeals court held there was an exception to that when the appropriation used taxpayer money to promote religion. The FFRF previously won a lawsuit against the program [JURIST report] when a judge suspended a federal grant to a Christian college because it "amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion". AP has more.

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