WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Tuesday dismissed criticism that his plan to steer public money to religious charities might discriminate against people who did not share their beliefs, saying those groups should have an "all drunks are welcome" policy.
Speaking to more than 250 religious leaders invited by the White House, Bush vented his frustration that Congress has not approved the idea he first offered soon after he took office to let religious charities spend taxpayer money.
Bypassing Congress, Bush has used executive orders and regulations to give religious organizations equal footing with nonsectarian groups in competing for federal contracts.
Bush reported that during his presidency 10 federal agencies have created offices to deal with religious charities. He said the government distributed about $2 billion in grants during the last budget year to help religious programs for the needy.
He said religious groups got 10 percent of the federal grants that they are eligible to apply for and indicated he wanted that level to rise. "Ten percent isn't perfect," Bush said. "Ten percent is progress."
White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives