Carl H. Esbeck

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Associated Press religion writer Richard N. Ostling, in his February 10, 2001, article "Bush's plan deeply rooted. Protestant thinkers helped shape his faith-based initiative," Ostling provides the following:

"As George W. Bush began his years as governor, John Ashcroft was starting his U.S. Senate term. Like Bush, Ashcroft wanted to give religious groups a bigger role in federal welfare reform. The obvious problem was how to maintain separation of church and state under the U.S. Constitution.

"Ashcroft aide Annie Billings White, an evangelical Protestant like her boss, offered to seek advice from church-state expert Carl H. Esbeck, one of her law professors at the University of Missouri. As it happened, Esbeck had just delivered an extensive research paper at Chicago's DePaul University on the obstacles and the pressures to secularize when religious programs join service programs funded by government.

"Esbeck, a Protestant, has since become director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom at the Christian Legal Society, an organization of 3,800 attorneys and law students based in Annandale, Va. He had sketched a law designed to grant publicly funded agencies more religious leeway while meeting church-state objections. He felt this was in line with less rigid Supreme Court rulings on church and state since 1981.

"The professor sent his draft law and his Chicago paper to White. That was the germ of the 'charitable choice' provision in the 1996 welfare reform law, one of the most important legislative efforts by Ashcroft, now U.S. attorney general."

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