The Campaign Spot

Obama Backs Bush’s Faith-Based Programs

Guess who wants to “expand President Bush’s program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and support some ability to hire and fire based on faith”*?

Barack Obama.
Go figure.
It’s not a pure flip-flop, as he said he needed more time to study the issue earlier in the year, but in January — when the Democratic primaries were going on, obviously — he sounded a lot more skeptical.

So would you keep the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives open or restructure it?

You know, what I’d like to do is I’d like to see how it’s been operating. One of the things that I think churches have to be mindful of is that if the federal government starts paying the piper, then they get to call the tune. It can, over the long term, be an encroachment on religious freedom. So, I want to see how moneys have been allocated through that office before I make a firm commitment in terms of sustaining practices that may not have worked as well as they should have.

One of the critiques of the Bush office on faith-based initiatives — beyond the church and state question — is that while it opened up competition to religious organizations or church-based organizations to compete for some of these federal funds, there was no additional allocation; there was no change in the funding. Instead, there were more organizations competing for the same the slice of pie.

I think that’s right. There’s always a danger in those situations that money is being allocating based on politics, as opposed to merit and substance. That doesn’t just compromise government. More importantly, it compromises potentially our religious institutions.

But hey. That was when he was competing for primary nomination of a party that had more staunch secularists, athiests, agnostics, and others skeptical of organized religion. Now he’s in the general election, competing for the votes of those bitter folk who cling to religion…

UPDATE: Yikes. Sounds like the left hand doesn’t know what the right further left hand is doing over on Team Obama:

The Obama campaign says the AP’s first report this morning that Obama supports “their [faith-based organizations’] ability to hire and fire based on faith” is incorrect. In fact, Obama’s plan, they say, would prevent organizations from discriminating based on faith.
Note: The second version of AP story says Obama would support “some ability to hire and fire based on faith.” 
The change is of one word, from “their” to “some.”
But the campaign says the second version is still inaccurate.



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