Barack Obama on his plans to continue George W. Bush's " Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives".....
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. Link
Are religion-based community programs helpful to a community? Of course they are. Some are more effective than others, but indeed, these food, clothing, and shelter providing programs often help communities. It is not because these programs help communities that gives me pause at Obama's willingness to continue, and expand, Bush the Younger's, faith-based program.
Instead, my disagreement with Obama's thinking comes because of his phrases like this one: "you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help." I simply do not believe it's possible to enforce or police that limititation on faith-based institutions.
Many faith-based groups, groups who are considered faith-based because they collectively believe in invisible beings and supernaturalism, plan EVERYTHING that they do around one main theme: converting sinners to Jesus. The fanatical Apostle Paul recommended becoming "all things to all people", why?....."in order to save some". Proseltyzing is what faith-basers do.
This is all very obvious.....so why expand programs that will surely be abused in and around the separation of church and state issue? Why should the government tempt proseltyzing church groups to cheat by offering them funding with non-proseltyzing strings attached?
More importantly, how would a federal government police faith basers who want to cheat, because, you know, it's a matter of conscience to proseltyze. Just look at what the faith-basers have done with emergency contraception, and now in California....gay marriage. They opt out of obeying the law by using pseudo-claims of conscientious objection....to keep from filling emergency contraception prescriptions, to keep from "tainting" themselves by conducting gay marriages they oppose.
No, the American governmental system does not need ANY federal program with "faith-based" in it's title. The Bill of Rights forbids the federal government from "establishing" religion in any way. While guaranteeing American citizens the freedom to practice any religion, the Constitution also makes clear that government is never to promote religion. Faith-based federal initiatives would have found nothing but "no" votes from the country's founders.
Here's what Obama, sadly, is doing. He has picked up the Clinton triangulation political baton and is now running with it himself. Yes, Obama is "moving to the center", but he's moving there by compromising Constitutional principles, as also witnessed by his feeble attempt to justify his cave-in on Bush's spying-on-Americans program in the new and deteriorated FISA bill. Triangulation over non-Constitutional issues is one thing......triangulating WITH Constitutional issues is something entirely different.
Outrageously, all that this 'to-the-center' movement will do is make the presidential race a closer contest. A closer race allows for Republican shenanigans, as we have witnessed in recent cycles. Obama got where he is by standing firm on progressive, Constitutional principles. Americans responded. There is absolutely no reason, whatso-freaking-ever, after he defeated one triangulator.....to now become one himself.
Just say "no" to faith-based funding.
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