Barack Obama’s speech in Zanesville, Ohio, yesterday will probably do for him what he designed it to do: attract some more “values” voters his way without his giving an inch on the most important “values” issues: abortion, marriage, and judges. Left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis sang his praises on cue. Far-gone secularist Barry Lynn recited his lines just right, denouncing the looming gap in the wall of separation. The whole production went off as planned.
Except for its Achilles Heel: faith-based hiring. Obama will have none of it. Unless they hire for mission, the identity of these charities precisely as Catholic or Mormon or Pentacostal (or as whatever) will soon disappear. It is this identity, too, which is key to why they work so well, often better than any secular counterpart charity. But if they hire for mission, these charities will (as an Obama supporter bluntly put it) just have to leave the public money to others. And note well: there is no question in any of this about serving clients without regard for their religion (or lack of it).
John McCain has an opening here, and he ought to seize it now. He should begin right now making the case that this is a bellwether issue of religious freedom. He should also begin making the case right now that Obama, despite his siren song about faith and charity, is (here, at least) a secularizing wolf in lamb’s clothing.