Religious Right Blasts Obama’s Faith Based Plan July 1, 2008

Religious Right Blasts Obama’s Faith Based Plan

The right wing Heritage Foundation is blasting Obama for being so damn non-discriminatory about his faith-based initiatives plan:

… even worse, Obama’s plan says that when a faith-based organization takes federal dollars, it would lose its ability to preserve its faith-based character through maintaining hiring standards consistent with its mission. It could be forced to hire an atheist. In other words, it would strike at the heart of the faith-based initiative.

When even the Christian Right dislikes what Obama’s doing, you know he’s onto something good.

While anyone can rightfully blast faith-based initiatives for existing in the first place, it doesn’t make much sense for atheist organizations to rip apart Obama for his plan — one which actually helps (at least a bit) in rebuilding the Wall of Separation between church and state within the confines of the faith-based initiatives plan.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Yoo

    If I was hesitant about this move before, the protests from the Right clinches it. It must be a good thing. 😛

  • Oh no! They’d have to actually hire people based on their ability instead of their beliefs when using federal dollars?! The horror!

    Just goes to show how far Fundies have distanced themselves from reality.

  • Bad

    Still pandering, in my book. He’s basically suggesting that things go back to how they were before “charitable choice” began in the first place in terms of regulation, but dramatically increase the amount of money going to religious organizations. That’s not going to make anyone happy.

    The unfortunate thing is that programs like this that specifically target certain groups for federal dollars almost always end up being political patronage programs.

  • wwyoud

    I can’t help but be skeptical that this is just another political ploy – buying a few more votes using “promises” with BIG loopholes. He speaks the theists’ language in this situation, but surely Obama knows that most such organizations can’t handle the administration required for two sets of hiring standards, short of starting an organization from scratch specifically to take advantage of the govt. handouts. Such wordplay just makes Obama look more interested in winning at any cost, rather than someone with a clear ethical reason for running for office. Better to take a few stands and the resulting hits, than continue trying to please everyone with such transparent attempts.

  • Bobby

    Any church big enough and successful enough to run a charity worthy of federal dollars (presumably we’re usually talking 6+ digit numbers here, not bingo money) is capable of implementing a hiring plan that doesn’t discriminate. And of course saying you don’t discriminate on that basis doesn’t mean you have to actively seek applications from everywhere. It shouldn’t be surprising if a church hires people within it’s organization, so long as it doesn’t shut the door to the hiring qualified outside candidates you’d be fine.

    Just another reason I’m not thrilled with it, but hey, people constantly discriminate in favor of people that they know and have worked with before. Just because it used to be a public position, doesn’t mean the church has to post their listings on

    So maybe it’s religious and “faith based” or maybe it’s just decentralization and privatization of a government function. Either way, I’m not convinced it’s a great idea just because it’s less religious than Bush’s.

  • I am just worried government money is going to go to Christian schools. I’d much rather see my tax money going to inner city schools to improve the quality of education for the poor, than see religiously affiliated grade schools get aid to make themselves even MORE religious. Watching my four year old sing Jesus Loves Me in a church a couple weeks ago because catholic pre school was all we could afford in our area? That was enough to make me want to improve public/secular education all the more.

  • Darryl

    Obama is the smartest politician to emerge in quite a while. He’s beating the Righties at their own game. They can’t object to support of church ministries, but must object to even-handed treatment of all eligible faiths. He’s forcing them to show their hand–that they don’t really care about helping people but about advancing their fucked-up fundamentalism. Any heavier and that cross around Laura Ingraham’s neck is going to snap it off. How’d you like to come home to that bitch after a hard day at the office?

  • Hemet, go to a chaulkboard and write 100 times:

    Money goes to religious groups.
    Money goes to religious groups.
    Money goes to religious groups. . . .

    Neither political party is the friend of atheists. I cannot believe that you have been blinded by who knows what into slavishly accepting the blatant religious pandering by someone who has publically stated that his mission as President would be to “do His (i.e. God’;s) will.” A pox on the house of Democrats as well as Republicans.

    Remember, if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still get evil in the end.

  • Darryl

    Remember, if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still get evil in the end.

    How about a little post-moralizing, huh? Since we’re getting evil one way or another, which would you prefer? Damn, no wonder people hate atheists!

  • Bad

    Uh Rich? Guess what: money has been going to religious groups for decades.

    What Charitable Choice and Faith Based I’s basically did was create a set of special rules for religious groups that allowed them to partially ignore regulations and laws on discrimination. They no longer had to keep two sets of books, and wall between religious functions and services.

    Obama is basically turning things back to how they were, with a lot of fanfare about religion.

    Remember, if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still get evil in the end.

    Whenever I hear someone repeat this sort of profoundly asinine “two evils” yak, I dock them 2 points. But for you, sir, it’s 3 points.

    Guess what. You live in a representative party democracy. Know what that means? It means that widdle old you isn’t the sole determiner of what a candidate must be like and support, and thus, it’s highly likely that they won’t be exactly where YOU and generally you alone (on your total mix of preferences), want them to be on every policy.

  • Todd B.

    I’m not going to rip Obama apart on this, but government funding of religious organizations, even for ostensibly ‘secular’ services, violates the establishment clause. I won’t pitch a fit during the campaign, because Obama is clearly the better of the two candidates on church-state separation and I want him to win. However, I’m not going to withdraw from the public conversation and allow theocratic frames to dominate the debate. When Obama says, “I know there are some who bristle at the notion that faith has a place in the public square,” he’s playing to those theocratic frames. Supporters of church-state separation have no problem with religion in the public square. We have a problem with government preference for and endorsement of religion.

  • TG

    Related article from the New York Times (July 02):
    Obama Seeks Bigger Role for Religious Groups

    ZANESVILLE, Ohio — Senator Barack Obama said Tuesday that if elected president he would expand the delivery of social services through churches and other religious organizations, vowing to achieve a goal he said President Bush had fallen short on during his two terms.

    “The challenges we face today — from saving our planet to ending poverty — are simply too big for government to solve alone,” Mr. Obama said outside a community center here. “We need an all-hands-on-deck approach.”


  • LeAnn

    I tend to like how Obama is stating his idea on how to keep the Faith-Based Initiatives going but change it up so that there is not discrimination happening in the organizations that choose to receive federal funds and their hiring practices. Of course, this is exactly the kind of opinion that makes me labeled a “liberal” in many Christian circles. I also agree with Stacy that I would much rather see my tax dollars going to support making public education in this country better and more equitable than supporting any one religious organization. I choose to give some of my money to my church but I don’t think the government should decide how much of my tax dollars goes to a faith-based organization or which of these organizations should receive it.

  • Karen

    surely Obama knows that most such organizations can’t handle the administration required for two sets of hiring standards, short of starting an organization from scratch specifically to take advantage of the govt. handouts

    I was in and around churches for 30 years as a theist, and many of them were perfectly capable of running separate programs to do good works, funded in part by government. In fact, many Catholic churches (and fewer Protestant churches) have long traditions of doing this. They are already established in the poorest areas of cities, their congregations may be largely immigrant and in need of extra help, and they have the interest in providing that help as well as the connections and infrastructure to do so efficiently.

    My former church formed a separate 501c3 to do community work that did not have any proselytizing element other than the fact that it was publicly acknowledged that the church was directly connected to the charity and most of its board and volunteers were church members. There was strict oversight in terms of metrics we had to set for expenditures and showing how many people we helped each year and exactly what was done. The books were audited to make sure funds were kept separate from religious activities funded by private donations.

    There’s no reason this can’t work again under an Obama administration. I believe he is sincere in recognizing that churches are well-positioned in many areas to get services to their local populations, since he worked with churches during the time he was in community organizing. Return the controls that were in place before Bush obliterated the line between church-state and I don’t really have a problem with it.

    The religious types who are criticizing him don’t like the idea because over the last 8 years they’ve been able to run amok with government money funding a lot of religious outreach that is way over the line. Specifically, they don’t like being held to a hiring standard that cannot require employees to be church members or even religious. But if it’s government money, hiring has to be completely non-discriminatory – yes, even if they have to (gasp) hire an atheist if s/he is the best qualified for the job.

  • Darryl

    I agree with Karen. If it will make any of you feel any better, just consider this another example of government out-sourcing.

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