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The U.S. culture of social services delivery is shifting to accommodate charitable choice provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) and more recent faith-based initiatives. In December 2002, President George W. Bush signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination against any organization on the basis of religion or religious belief in the administration or distribution of federal financial assistance for social services programs (Executive Order No. 13,279, 2002). Although public funding cannot be used for inherently religious activities such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization, organizations may maintain autonomy in their names, display of religious symbols, hiring decisions, and use of religious terminology in mission statements and other documents. Such autonomy was previously unavailable to faith-related organizations receiving public funds for social services programs; funding was contingent on removing religious references and symbols in services settings and complying with the same regulations and standards applied to secular nonprofit agencies. Faith-based human services initiatives have significant implications for professional social work. Concerns expressed by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) related to faith-based initiatives include potential proselytization and discrimination in services delivery, worker competence to address complex clinical issues, and consideration of applicants' religious beliefs in hiring decisions (NASW, 2003). Although the profession's Code of Ethics (NASW, 2000) prohibits any form of discrimination, social workers also have recognized the historical importance of social work in religious institutions, especially in traditionally marginalized communities (Cnaan, 1999; NASW, 2003; Williams, Pierce, Young, &Van Dorn, 2001).

Essais et sciences humaines
1 juillet
National Association of Social Workers

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