The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Balancing compliance with compassion

With the Patriot Act & related legislation, aspects of global mission and ministry with immigrants have changed

Enacted immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., one of the Patriot Act’s goals is to prevent American resources from being used to support terrorist groups. Over civil liberties groups’ criticisms that the act would interfere with citizens’ civil rights, the Patriot Act was reauthorized with broad, bipartisan support in 2006.

According to the Justice Department’s Web site, the act has led to the capture of more than one-third of Al Qaida’s senior leadership, coordination of different security branches of the government, the freezing of more than $136 million in assets globally, and incapacitation of more than 3,000 terrorist operatives worldwide. It’s also changed some of the practical ways that U.S. nonprofits and churches, including the ELCA, carry out ministry.

“The Office of the Treasurer has implemented additional steps, as suggested under the act’s voluntary guidelines, to what was already a well-monitored and controlled disbursement process,” said Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA Treasurer. “Programmatic unit staff, such as in Global Missions, add another level of oversight through their on-site monitoring and reporting.”

Bishal Maskey, director for finance with Global Mission, said oversight has both benefits and drawbacks. “[We] do realize the Patriot Act is something the government is doing for the safety of [the American] people, it’s just that we also see it has some costs,” he said.

With an annual operating budget of nearly $30 million, Global Mission sends money to churches, missionaries and church-related projects worldwide, also channeling funds for witness and service ministries through Lutheran, ecumenical and partner agencies. There has been no suggestion that any ELCA grants ever helped finance terrorists.

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