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President Obama has signed an executive order to streamline the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a group created under former President George W. Bush. The reform reflects recommendations made earlier this year by council members and critics, including clarifying some church-state separation concerns, but stops short of preventing grant recipients from hiring and firing staff based on religion.

From CNN’s Belief Blog:

The order says that religious organizations receiving federal funds must conduct explicitly religious activities in a time and place that are different from when and where they do government-financed work.

But the order also states that faith-based organizations receiving federal dollars may use their facilities to provide government-backed social services, even if those facilities include religious art, icons, scriptures and other religious symbols.

A religious group receiving federal money may also keep religious language in its name, select board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its mission statements and other documents, the executive order says.

For more on this story, check out Religion News Service and Religion Clause.

In semi-related news, the Associated Baptist Press also ran this story about potential religious landmines for Obama and other politicians in 2012.  

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