Equal Protection of the Laws for Faith-Based and Community Organizations

Title 3— The President Executive Order 13279 of December 12, 2002

Equal protection of the laws for faith-based and community organizations

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 121(a) of title 40, United States Code, and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and in order to guide Federal agencies in formulating and developing policies with implications for faith-based organizations and other community organizations, to ensure equal protection of the laws for faith-based and community organizations, to further the national effort to expand opportunities for, and strengthen the capacity of, faith-based and other community organizations so that they may better meet social needs in America's communities, and to ensure the economical and efficient administration and completion of Government contracts, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Definitions. For purposes of this order:

(a) “Federal financial assistance” means assistance that non-Federal entities receive or administer in the form of grants, contracts, loans, loan guarantees, property, cooperative agreements, food commodities, direct appropriations, or other assistance, but does not include a tax credit, deduction, or exemption.

(b) “Social service program” means a program that is administered by the Federal Government, or by a State or local government using Federal financial assistance, and that provides services directed at reducing poverty, improving opportunities for low-income children, revitalizing low-income communities, empowering low-income families and low-income individuals to become self-sufficient, or otherwise helping people in need. Such programs include, but are not limited to, the following:

(i) child care services, protective services for children and adults, services for children and adults in foster care, adoption services, services related to the management and maintenance of the home, day care services for adults, and services to meet the special needs of children, older individuals, and individuals with disabilities (including physical, mental, or emotional disabilities);

(ii) transportation services;

(iii) job training and related services, and employment services;

(iv) information, referral, and counseling services;

(v) the preparation and delivery of meals and services related to soup kitchens or food banks;

(vi) health support services;

(vii) literacy and mentoring programs;

(viii) services for the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency and substance abuse, services for the prevention of crime and the provision of assistance to the victims and the families of criminal offenders, and services related to intervention in, and prevention of, domestic violence; and

(ix) services related to the provision of assistance for housing under Federal law.

(c) “Policies that have implications for faith-based and community organizations” refers to all policies, programs, and regulations, including officialguidance and internal agency procedures, that have significant effects on faith-based organizations participating in or seeking to participate in social service programs supported with Federal financial assistance.

(d) “Agency” means a department or agency in the executive branch.

(e) “Specified agency heads” mean the Attorney General, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor, and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development.

Sec. 2. Fundamental Principles and Policymaking Criteria.

In formulating and implementing policies that have implications for faith-based and community organizations, agencies that administer social service programs supported with Federal financial assistance shall, to the extent permitted by law, be guided by the following fundamental principles:

(a) Federal financial assistance for social service programs should be distributed in the most effective and efficient manner possible;

(b) The Nation's social service capacity will benefit if all eligible organizations, including faith-based and other community organizations, are able to compete on an equal footing for Federal financial assistance used to support social service programs;

(c) No organization should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or religious belief in the administration or distribution of Federal financial assistance under social service programs;

(d) All organizations that receive Federal financial assistance under social services programs should be prohibited from discriminating against beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of the social services programs on the basis of religion or religious belief. Accordingly, organizations, in providing services supported in whole or in part with Federal financial assistance, and in their outreach activities related to such services, should not be allowed to discriminate against current or prospective program beneficiaries on the basis of religion, a religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or a refusal to actively participate in a religious practice;

(e) The Federal Government must implement Federal programs in accordance with the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, organizations that engage in inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, and proselytization, must offer those services separately in time or location from any programs or services supported with direct Federal financial assistance, and participation in any such inherently religious activities must be voluntary for the beneficiaries of the social service program supported with such Federal financial assistance; and

(f) Consistent with the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause of the Constitution, faith-based organizations should be eligible to compete for Federal financial assistance used to support social service programs and to participate fully in the social service programs supported with Federal financial assistance without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression, or religious character. Accordingly, a faith-based organization that applies for or participates in a social service program supported with Federal financial assistance may retain its independence and may continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, development, practice, and expression of its religious beliefs, provided that it does not use direct Federal financial assistance to support any inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization. Among other things, faith-based organizations that receive Federal financial assistance may use their facilities to provide social services supported with Federal financial assistance, without removing or altering religious art, icons, scriptures, or other symbols from these facilities. In addition, a faith-based organization that applies for or participates in a social service program supported with Federal financial assistance may retain religious terms in its organization's name,select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its organization's mission statements and other chartering or governing documents.

Sec. 3. Agency Implementation.

(a) Specified agency heads shall, in coordination with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (White House OFBCI), review and evaluate existing policies that have implications for faith-based and community organizations in order to assess the consistency of such policies with the fundamental principles and policymaking criteria articulated in section 2 of this order.

(b) Specified agency heads shall ensure that all policies that have implications for faith-based and community organizations are consistent with the fundamental principles and policymaking criteria articulated in section 2 of this order. Therefore, specified agency heads shall, to the extent permitted by law:

(i) amend all such existing policies of their respective agencies to ensure that they are consistent with the fundamental principles and policymaking criteria articulated in section 2 of this order;

(ii) where appropriate, implement new policies for their respective agencies that are consistent with and necessary to further the fundamental principles and policymaking criteria set forth in section 2 of this order; and

(iii) implement new policies that are necessary to ensure that their respective agencies collect data regarding the participation of faith-based and community organizations in social service programs that receive Federal financial assistance.

(c) Within 90 days after the date of this order, each specified agency head shall report to the President, through the Director of the White House OFBCI, the actions it proposes to undertake to accomplish the activities set forth in sections 3(a) and (b) of this order.

Sec. 4. Amendment of Executive Order 11246.

Pursuant to section 121(a) of title 40, United States Code, and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and in order to further the strong Federal interest in ensuring that the cost and progress of Federal procurement contracts are not adversely affected by an artificial restriction of the labor pool caused by the unwarranted exclusion of faith-based organizations from such contracts, section 204 of Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

“SEC. 204 (a) The Secretary of Labor may, when the Secretary deems that special circumstances in the national interest so require, exempt a contracting agency from the requirement of including any or all of the provisions of Section 202 of this Order in any specific contract, subcontract, or purchase order.

(b) The Secretary of Labor may, by rule or regulation, exempt certain classes of contracts, subcontracts, or purchase orders (1) whenever work is to be or has been performed outside the United States and no recruitment of workers within the limits of the United States is involved; (2) for standard commercial supplies or raw materials; (3) involving less than specified amounts of money or specified numbers of workers; or (4) to the extent that they involve subcontracts below a specified tier.

(c) Section 202 of this Order shall not apply to a Government contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities. Such contractors and subcontractors are not exempted or excused from complying with the other requirements contained in this Order.

(d) The Secretary of Labor may also provide, by rule, regulation, or order, for the exemption of facilities of a contractor that are in all respects separateand distinct from activities of the contractor related to the performance of the contract: provided, that such an exemption will not interfere with or impede the effectuation of the purposes of this Order: and provided further, that in the absence of such an exemption all facilities shall be covered by the provisions of this Order.”

Sec. 5. General Provisions.

(a) This order supplements but does not supersede the requirements contained in Executive Orders 13198 and 13199 of January 29, 2001.

(b) The agencies shall coordinate with the White House OFBCI concerning the implementation of this order.

(c) Nothing in this order shall be construed to require an agency to take any action that would impair the conduct of foreign affairs or the national security.

Sec. 6. Responsibilities of Executive Departments and Agencies. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall:

(a) designate an agency employee to serve as the liaison and point of contact with the White House OFBCI; and

(b) cooperate with the White House OFBCI and provide such information, support, and assistance to the White House OFBCI as it may request, to the extent permitted by law.

Sec. 7. Judicial Review.

This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch, and it is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, or entities, its officers, employees or agents, or any person.

B THE WHITE HOUSE, December 12, 2002. Filed 12-13-02; 12:09 pm]

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