Faith-based drive lands financial aid

WASHINGTON: Conservative financiers have established an advocacy

group devoted exclusively to generating support - and cash - for

President Bush's faith-based initiatives program.

Capital City Partners, a consulting firm led by conservatives Jeff Bell,

Ralph Benko, Bob Heckman and Frank Cannon, provided support for the


Calling itself Americans for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprises

(ACFE), the group plans to spend "millions of dollars" to advance

pro-community and faith-based policies and encourage more private-sector

support for such groups.

President Bush made his faith-based initiatives a centerpiece of his

campaign, though they have met with considerable resistance during his

first months in office. The plan calls for government funding of

religious organizations' charitable and civic efforts.

ACFE will be a lobbying organization based in Washington. A companion

research and education group, the Foundation for Community and

Faith-Centered Enterprise, will be based in Phoenix, AZ.

"We hope to call to the attention of the private-sector areas of

opportunity in the faith-based community," said Michael Joyce, incoming

president and CEO of the two organizations, who currently leads the

conservative, grant-making Bradley Foundation.

Joyce's goal is a tough one. President Bush recently pointed out that

"currently, six of the largest 10 corporate givers in America explicitly

rule out or restrict donations to faith-based groups."

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