Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama to One-Up Bush on Faith-Based Initiatives

Well, that's disappointing. Obama:

Well, I still believe it’s a good idea to have a partnership between the White House and grassroots groups, both faith-based and secular. But it has to be a real partnership – not a photo-op. That’s what it will be when I’m President. I’ll establish a new Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new name will reflect a new commitment. This Council will not just be another name on the White House organization chart – it will be a critical part of my administration.

Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.


So you're going to give a bunch of federal tax dollars to churches, temples, and mosques if they promise to use it for secular (i.e. actual) charity? Are you going to stop them from taking the money they previously spent on secular charity and redirecting it towards proselytizing? Are you going to police them carefully so they don't proselytize while spending federal dollars on secular charity? Are you going to have constant audits to make sure that dollars aren't directed at some religions more than others? Do Scientology and Falun Gong get to play, or does a group have to be at least as established as, say, the Mormons?

Ugh.

20 comments:

dbackdad said...

Very disappointing. Though I'm sure his intentions are noble, the qualifications for funding are unenforceable.

The separation of church and state is fundamental to our country. As Jefferson said, "The coercion of a person to make contributions—especially monetary—to a religion he doesn't support is tyrannical and creates favoritism among ministers." I fail to see how my tax money going to churches (for any reason) is not a violation of this.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Are you going to stop them from taking the money they previously spent on secular charity and redirecting it towards proselytizing?

The problem with that reasoning is that it applies to any situation where a religious entity is provided with government services.

Jewish Atheist said...

LWY:

When should government be providing any services to religious entities? Do you mean like fire and police?

FedUp said...

Ouch!

In general, I think Obama's version of religion would be an improvement but he's playing the faith card, FAR too much as far as I'm concerned.

Religion has this country by the cohones. It's so deep into politics that a bystander probably wouldn't be able to tell where the separation of church and state was exactly. You'll constantly hear John McCain make religious comments and Obama holding his arms out to the faith community.

abandoning eden said...

I'm going to start the "church of faithlessness" and apply for faith-based dollars to give charity to the 14% of the US that is not associated with a religion!

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

When should government be providing any services to religious entities? Do you mean like fire and police?

Sure. Also trash collection, stuff like that.

Also, keep in mind, that donations to religious entities are tax-deductible, so in effect, 1/3 or so of your donation is funded by the government.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

The separation of church and state is fundamental to our country.

If it's so fundamental, perhaps the founders would have actually a separation of church and state clause into the Constitution.

But they didn't

Alex said...

Actually, the whole thing isn't as disappointing as it first sounds.

From here: http://i.usatoday.net/news/mmemmottpdf/obama-faith-fact-sheet-july-1-2008.pdf

Obama’s initiative will be governed by a set of core principles for federal grant recipients. In order to receive federal funds to provide social services, faith-based organizations:

* Cannot use federal funds to proselytize or provide religious sectarian instruction.

* Cannot discriminate against nonmembers in providing services. They must remain open to all and cannot practice religious discrimination against the populations they serve.

* Must comply with federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Religious organizations that receive federal dollars cannot discriminate with respect to hiring for government-funded social service programs.

* Can only use taxpayer dollars on secular programs and initiatives.

* Must prove their efficacy and be judged based on program effectiveness. They will be expected to demonstrate proven program outcomes to continue to receive funding. Obama will fund programs that work and end funding for programs that do not — whether they are large or small, well-established or new, faith-based or otherwise.

Jewish Atheist said...

LWY:

That's why I think religious institutions should be treated like any other non-profit.


alex:

What happens when Obama leaves office and the next Republican administration takes over? You think they're going to play by the rules? That's not what they do with government programs. They use them to funnel all the money to their allies while simultaneously holding said programs up as evidence that government doesn't work.

Alex said...

Yes, I understand that it's short-sighted, but 4 (or 8) years with the separation of church and state is better than none.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...


That's why I think religious institutions should be treated like any other non-profit.


So if the government can give money to the United Way, why can't it give money to the United Church for Christ?

BEAJ said...

Separation of church and state is implied in the Constitution.
Only fools can't see that.

JA, it is good to see you are not in love with Obama as many of his supporters seem to be.

Jewish Atheist said...

Can gov't give money to United Way? I'll admit ignorance on this subject.

Jewish Atheist said...

JA, it is good to see you are not in love with Obama as many of his supporters seem to be.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still a big supporter and very excited about him. I don't expect to agree with my candidate on every single issue.

Ezzie said...

But as he slowly flips on each issue to the middle-right, how much will you still like him? His big item was Iraq, and that's likely to be flipped in the next couple of weeks. What then?

I don't expect to agree with my candidate on every single issue.

Amen. It's why John McCain will probably win despite most people on the right really not being thrilled with him.

Jewish Atheist said...

But as he slowly flips on each issue to the middle-right, how much will you still like him? His big item was Iraq, and that's likely to be flipped in the next couple of weeks. What then?

I'll grit my teeth and remember that Clinton was a great center-right president except for that whole lewinsky thing.

Ezzie said...

Hehe. No Ralph Nader for you? :)

asher said...

I don't understand what you're so upset about.

This is a clear example of "Change we live with" and "we can do it"

Obama stands for nothing and your notion that he might be the first lefist president is unfounded. He made a point of choosing the Old Guard to be his advisors proving that it's not change he's after.

What you should discuss is how a guy with nothing to say, and no resume to speak of could get as far as he did. He's already outdone Ronald Regan as the teflon candidate...nothing sticks..not Rev Wright, not his real estate tactics in Chicago, not his friendship with the leader of the Weather Underground.....hey who cares?

But he has charisma! And, for those of you familiar with sociology, for whome was the term charisma coined?

Someone I know said he drove across middle America recently and saw only Obama bumper stickers. He was convinced that the heart of the country is with Obama. It never occured to him that McCain supporters might not want to put on bumper stickers.

This is going to be quite an election.

Happy 4th of July to all of you.

The Candy Man said...

I'm going to start the "church of faithlessness" and apply for faith-based dollars to give charity to the 14% of the US that is not associated with a religion!

I actually think this is a pretty good idea... Obama might be receptive to it. I've been reading his book and there's no doubt in my mind that he's quite sensitive to the atheist POV.

asher said...

He's clearly talking down to black people and someone should really get down to cutting his n_ts off...oh..I'm sorry....some reverand already said that.