What Separation of Church and State? Constitutional Competence of Congregational Leaders

While government units have provided services through religious nonprofits for decades,[6] Charitable Choice and the President?s initiative encourage direct contracts with religious congregations, rather than with the 501(c)3 affiliates that have traditionally delivered social services with government dollars. Those traditional providers?Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Jewish Family Services and the like?have generally displayed a sensitivity to the constitutional constraints that accompany public funds.[7] Congregations, however, unlike religious social service agencies, are first and foremost communities of worship.[8] It is fair to ask whether the leaders of such communities are as familiar with those constitutional constraints, and as willing, or able, to operate within them.