Transcript of State of the Union
President Bush calls for a law to allow government funding of faith-based social initiatives (January 20)
It is also important to strengthen our communities by unleashing the compassion of America's religious institutions.
Religious charities of every creed are doing some of the most vital work in our country: mentoring children; feeding the hungry; taking the hand of the lonely.
Yet government has often denied social service grants and contracts to these groups, just because they have a cross or Star of David or crescent on the wall. By executive order, I have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that includes faith-based charities. Tonight I ask you to codify this into law, so people of faith can know that the law will never discriminate against them again.
In the past, we have worked together to bring mentors to the children of prisoners, and provide treatment for the addicted, and help for the homeless. Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society.
We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison. So tonight, I propose a four-year, 300 million dollar Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative to expand job training and placement services, to provide transitional housing, and to help newly released prisoners get mentoring, including from faith-based groups. America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.
Part 8: Closing