Jim Towey

Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was Wednesday's guest. Here are excepts from his remarks:

On the program's success:

"[It] has been an unheralded success story. [President Bush] has carried through on his promise to remove barriers so that faith-based organizations and community groups could partner with the federal government in addressing the needs of our poor."

On opposition to the program from Americans United for Separation of Church and State :

"I think it smacks often of religious intolerance. [Their] view of the First Amendment basically sanitizes the public square of any possible religious influence, and I don't think that is what the First Amendment says. Nor is it what most Americans want."

On the danger of mixing church and state :

"You have to be vigilant on these church/state issues. The president has made clear no one wants to see church and state merged into one. We see the dire consequences when that happens."

On challenges to local groups helping the poor:

"There has been a certain amount of fatigue among groups that work with intract-able social problems. [You] certainly see some groups that start out with great intentions and then kind of run out of gas."

On the president's faith:

"He does not consider himself some super-Christian.... He is very humble about his faith."

An expanded report is available at: http://blogs.csmonitor.com/cooks_capitol/

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