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BostonGlobeonforeignaidII - THE BOSTON GLOBE James Dobsons...

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THE BOSTON GLOBE James Dobson’s Focus on the Family has played a major role in presidential politics. (Jeff Fusco/ Getty Images) PART 2: CHURCH MEETS STATE | EXPORTING FAITH Religious right wields clout Secular groups losing funding amid pressure By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | October 9, 2006 For six decades, CARE has been a vital ally to the US government. It supplied the famed CARE packages to Europe's starving masses after World War II, and its work with the poor has been celebrated by US presidents. So the group was thrilled when it received a major contract from the Bush administration to fight AIDS in Africa and Asia. But this time, instead of accolades came attacks. Religious conservatives contended that the $50 million contract, under which CARE was to distribute money to both secular and faith-based groups, was being guided by an organization out of touch with religious values. Senator Rick Santorum , a Pennsylvania Republican, charged last year that CARE was ``anti- American" and ``promoted a pro-prostitution agenda." Focus on the Family, the religious group headed by James Dobson , said the agency that delivered the contract, the US Agency for International Development, was a ``liberal cancer." The complaining paid off. CARE's $50 million contract is being phased out this year; it has been replaced with a $200 million program of grants that is targeted at faith-based providers, and overseen by USAID itself. The pressure on CARE is emblematic of that facing many other secular groups. President Bush's faith-based initiative has not only increased funding for church groups, but also raised the expectations of the religious right, which has asserted a stronger role in setting policy.
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The pattern of outcry by religious conservatives, followed by accommodation by the administration, has been replicated on numerous occasions at USAID, from personnel decisions to choices of who runs humanitarian programs overseas. In the process, secular groups have seen an overall drop in funding. CARE's USAID dollars declined every year, from $138 million in fiscal 2001 to $96 million in fiscal 2005, the last year for which data is available, according to a Globe survey of prime contractors and grantees in the development arena. Kristin Kalla , the CARE official overseeing its AIDS contract, said she found herself in the middle of a war over politics, religion, and money. ``There was a lot of resentment, a lot of pressure, from the religious right feeling that they supported Bush, especially for the second term, and they wanted to get paid their dues, they wanted a piece of the pie in terms of foreign assistance," Kalla said. James Towey , the former head of the White House's faith-based office, acknowledged that he fought hard to shift international aid to faith-based groups, although he denied it was a political payback.
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