Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

bushobama.jpgAfter touring Zanesville, Ohio’s Eastside Community Ministry, which his campaign describes as a “food bank, a clothing closet and a children’s program for low-income” people–Barack Obama will announce plans his plan for a President’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the successor to George W. Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
In laying out plans for the program, Obama faces the obvious challenge of selling a controversial innovation of the Bush White House to his own party. So in its morning email briefing, the Obama camp goes out of its way to distinguish Obama’s Faith-Based plan from Bush’s:

…Obama does not believe that faith-based groups are an alternative to government or secular nonprofits, or that they’re better at lifting people
…The new partnership will not endanger the separation of church and state, so long as a few basic principles are followed. First, if an organization gets a federal grant, it will not be permitted to use that grant money to proselytize to the people it serves, and the group will forbidden to discriminate against them on the basis of their religion. And groups will be required to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws in their hiring practices–including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques will only be allowed to go toward secular programs. And Obama will ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.

Will those pledges be enought to placate the strict church-and-state separationists who lambasted Bush’s faith-based initiatives?
Here’s the full briefing from Team Obama:
Obama will create a President’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
As Barack Obama has said many times, he believes that change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. And many of the challenges we face today–from saving our planet to ending poverty–are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck.
That’s why Obama will help draw on their strength of these groups through the creation of a new President’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Obama does not believe that faith-based groups are an alternative to government or secular nonprofits, or that they’re better at lifting people. But what he does believe is that we all have to work together to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Obama’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will help empower grassroots faith-based and community groups to help meet these challenges.
The partnership will not endanger the separation of church and state–but will harness the energy of these critical groups
The new partnership will not endanger the separation of church and state, so long as a few basic principles are followed. First, if an organization gets a federal grant, it will not be permitted to use that grant money to proselytize to the people it serves, and the group will forbidden to discriminate against them on the basis of their religion. And groups will be required to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws in their hiring practices–including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques will only be allowed to go toward secular programs. And Obama will ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.
Innovative new programs: training larger organizations to support smaller ones, and expanding summer learning programs to serve one million students
Barack Obama will work with the hundreds of religious and community groups that understand the process to train the thousands of groups that don’t. The Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will “train the trainers” by giving larger faith-based partners like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services–and secular nonprofits like Public/Private Ventures–the support they need to help other groups build and run effective programs.
And the Council will target key challenges like closing the achievement gap. Obama will expand nonprofit summer learning programs to serve one million students by developing partnerships with faith-based and community groups. This partnership won’t just help children learn–it will help keep them off the streets during the summer so they don’t turn to crime.


9

Previous Posts
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus