The church has historically been an important institution within the Black community. The leadership of Project 21, a conservative organization of policy makers sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, is encouraging a variety of options to help stimulate the input and participation of the Black community in advocating for tax credit scholarships that would allow individuals and businesses to earn tax credits for donations in support of church-sponsored daycare and K-12 educational programs. This recommendation – one of seven faith-related recommendations it Project 21’s “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” – would help reinvigorate Black churches that are facing the same decline in youth participation as mainline churches.

The Blueprint is Project 21’s 57-point plan for removing barriers that block Blacks from empowerment and for ensuring they have their chance of attaining the “American dream.”

Project 21 also recommends repealing the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits certain nonprofits such as churches from expressing opinions on candidates, and banning abortions that are conducted exclusively for ethnicity selection purposes.

“Churches played a vital part in protecting and nurturing the Black community during the perils of slavery, the uncertainties of Reconstruction and the promise of the civil rights movement,” according to the Project 21 website. “They strive to this very day to hold Black families together. “Government must recognize and promote the good work of black churches, and Project 21’s recommendations can reinvigorate these religious organizations amidst popular culture’s assault on faith.”

“Abortion is a billion-dollar enterprise. Planned Parenthood and other ‘family planning’ providers profit handsomely from America’s silent genocide,” said Horace Cooper, co-chairman of Project 21. “But making a buck hasn’t stopped Planned Parenthood from sticking with its founder’s goals to go after blacks and the poor. They specifically locate near the neighborhoods of poor Black women and as a result have achieved a devastating record, they’ve managed to kill the babies of five times as many women of color than Whites. This targeting by race must end. No unborn child should ever lose his life because of the color of his skin.”

Project 21 members say government policies should strengthen faith-based organizations instead of diminishing the role of religion in society, arguing that churches have long been the most important institutions, and consistent forces for good, in the black community.

The powerful role of the church in the black community can be seen in its ongoing efforts to keep black families intact – offering spiritual aid, food and financial assistance, nursery care, education and youth activities in safe environments. With 66 percent of black children raised in households with just one parent, churches also provide positive male role models.

Since church participation has decreased, particularly among Black youth, Project 21 members see a compelling need for government policies that reinvigorate the role of the church in tending to the needs of black communities.

—There are seven specific proposals in Project 21’s Blueprint designed to give black Americans a better deal by raising the position of the church:

—Ban abortions performed exclusively on the basis of the ethnicity of a fetus.

—Ban the sale of fetal body parts entirely.

—Establish federal Tax Credit Scholarships to allow individuals and businesses to receive tax credits for donating to nonprofits, including churches, that provide private school tuition assistance for low-income and at-risk youth, whether in the K-12 system or in preschools or daycare centers.

—Create a tax credit for parents and other family members who pay fees and tuition for preschool or K-12 education.

—Encourage religious leaders to participate in the activities of local schools and to serve on local advisory boards of federally-funded social service offices in order to give input regarding policies that limit faith-based leaders from participating in the provisioning of social services.

—Repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits certain nonprofits – including churches – from expressing opinions on candidates for public office.

—Dedicate one day in February (Black History Month) for a national proclamation honoring religious leaders and laymen for their role in achieving civil rights for all Americans.

“Clergy should be allowed to provide insight in areas such as public schools and politics. Churches provide many Americans with a much-needed spiritual and educational core and should therefore be afforded every right to discuss pressing issues,” said Stone Washington, a senior at Clemson University and member of Project 21. “In addition to repealing political speech restrictions placed on churches by the Johnson Amendment, the abortion culture’s racist targeting of unborn Blacks in troubled communities must also come to an immediate end.”