ACLU Sues USAID for Refusing to Release Documents Relating to Religious Programs

Monday, February 22, 2010

Unable to get the documents it requested, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for refusing to disclose information about funding for religious-based programs overseas. USAID’s own rules forbid it from supporting organizations that “engage in inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization,” and yet the federal government’s leading foreign aid operation seems to be doing just that.

An audit by a federal inspector general indicated that nine out of 10 faith-based organizations receiving USAID funds were carrying out religious activities in other countries, prompting the ACLU to request details from the agency through the Freedom of Information Act. After waiting as long as seven months and not receiving the documents, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against USAID in a New York federal court.
The inspector general’s report included examples of USAID monies assisting an abstinence-only program in Africa that used Bible stories and religious messages.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
ACLU v. USAID (U.S. District Court, Southern New York) (pdf)


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