Legislation is being offered at the state capital in Oklahoma that would opnely begin distributing state money to faith-based organizations. In the past, the office of faith-based initiatives has contended that all the money distributed to such organizations was federal money.
Oklahoma has fairly strong prohibitions against distributing government money to religious groups in its state constitution. Here's what it says (with emphasis added),
Section II-5: Public Money or Property -- Use for Sectarian Purposes.
"No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such."
Legislation now being considered would give money to the Oklahoma Office of Faith-based Initiatives to distribute to faith-groups that will work with Prison Fellowship to rehabilitate criminals. The legislation is also supposed to hold recipients of the funding accountable for demonstrating successful results.
We've heard about programs like this before. In fact, Americans United has just sued the State of Iowa for distributing government funds to Prison Fellowship for a prison-wing that it operates at a prison in Davenport, Iowa. That program boasted successful results. Critics contend that the results were skewed to give it the appearance of success when, in reality, recidivism by all participants within its program were worse than for a control group.
Here's an essay I wrote about the case a few months ago. Here's a link to an article about that describes the allegorical nature of Prison Fellowship's defense of their uniquely "Christian" influence on the Iowa inmates. Here's a link to a blog that has a lot of links to information about other problems with faith-based funding. The picture posted above, which is worth much more than a thousand words, was borrowed from that blog.
(Thanks to Robert Cunningham for calling my attention to these last two links)