Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman


The Great Secret About Faith-Based Hiring

posted by swaldman

The most disconcerting part of Obama’s faith initiative is that they didn’t seem to be aware of the volatile politics of one provision: whether faith-based groups can hire and fire according to someone’s religion. “Any religious organization that does not want to comply with that requirement simply doesn’t have to take the money,” said law professor and Obama advisor Martha Minnow. “I don’t think there’s anything too controversial about that.”
Not controversial, eh? Writing that Obama’s proposal was a “fraud,” the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue declared, “If a customer walked into a New York deli and said, ‘Let me have a hot dog on a roll–hold the frankfurter’–he’d likely be thrown out. That’s what the public should do to Obama’s faith-based initiative: since he wants to gut the faith from his faith-based programs, he should be told to junk it.”
Or, from Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins: “Obama’s interpretation would be a body blow to religious groups that apply for federal funds.”
Worst of all for Obama, Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals — a moderate — said, “That’s extremely disappointing.”
In a later post I’m going to dive into the actual law but here I want to simply draw attention to a portion of Tempting Faith, the book by my Beliefnet colleague David Kuo, who was the deputy director of the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives under Bush. He describes how the Bush White House wanted to make a big deal about federal rules preventing programs from hiring on the basis of faith. They instructed the staff to find outrageous examples of religious charities being forced to abandon their principles:

“There was only onne problem. Hundreds of calls were made and not one additional example was found.”

Why? Because “most of the faith-based groups that did contract with the federal government were large and well lawyered” and therefore skillful at working around the law so they could get the money.
Kuo tried to convince his colleagues that it was a minor issue and that downplaying it could help them forge a consensus. But, it turned out, building consensus really wasn’t the goal. “Jim [Towey, the office’s director] was fully engaged in West Wing politics and smart enough to know how best to tickle political fancies. The religious hiring issues was polarizing… More action on the same subject would mean more attention for Jim’s efforts. Therefore the religious hiring issue was good.”
In other words, the religious hiring issue is one of these classic Washington creatures that interest groups care more about than those on the ground. Liberals loved it when Bush moved the line because they could claim he was gutting separation of church and state. Conservative activists love it that Obama has taken his position because they can claim he’s gutting faith.
The reality is that the rule – though dealing with some interesting and important principles — affects few groups in the real world. The test for Obama will be whether he can keep this particular red herring from blocking real progress that would help the poor.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 2, 2008 at 10:49 pm


==…whether faith-based groups can hire and fire according to someone’s religion.==
Seeeee?? Already a glitch.
Now, that depends, among other things, on whether these “faith-based” organizations are considered part of government, or not; or whether they are subsidized by government in this scheme.
Of course, an agreement could be worked out that they are not part of government and that they are not beholden to government, even though they get money as part of the agreement.
However, some Lib will start whinin’ about their hiring only Christians and all that, and we’ll be off to the races…and courts.
You can count on the Libs to screw it all up.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted July 3, 2008 at 9:20 am


Steve,
I really appreciate the great work you do here and I have found your analysis thorough and balanced even when I disagree (occasionally) with your interpretations.
However, I do have one bone to pick with you, which occurred to me as I read your post.
I appreciate that David Kuo is your colleague. But the whole David Kuo narrative has been denied by others in the Bush administration, including Kuo’s boss at the White House, James Towey. Towey is now president of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. When Kuo’s book came out, just in time to impact the 2006 elections, Towey was interviewed by the New York Times. Towey said that he had never encountered the cynicism or condescension in the White House (which was charged by Kuo), and Towey disputed many of the assertions in Kuo’s account.
In the interests of “Beliefnet” readers, don’t we deserve to hear from Mr. Towey and others in the White House with different recollections than those of Mr. Kuo? Perhaps you should invite Towey to post commentary or even to run a blog of his own.
This is not to slam David Kuo or to question his motives. It’s just that, like most of us who blog here, I was not working at the WH in the office of faith-based initiatives during the early Bush years. I appreciate that Mr. Kuo has his account, but I also recognize that others have theirs and that these are at variance with Kuo’s.
All this is important because we can’t have a discussion about Obama’s proposals or the whole issue of government support of faith-based initiatives … unless we get a clear and balanced understanding of the Bush Administration experience with this. That full understanding should not, I believe, rest on the testimony of just one man, however well intentioned he might be.



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Stanley Carlson-Thies

posted July 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm


Obviously there are divided views on the freedom provided by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that religious organizations can take religion (but not race, sex, ethnicity, color, etc.) into account when making employment decisions. Some think what this authorizes is mere rank discrimination; others see it as parallel to the freedom of Senators to hire only within their own political party and the right of environmental groups to ignore applicants who don’t care passionately for the environment.
But whatever one thinks of that, it is odd for the article to suggest that religious staffing is merely a wedge issue, brought up irrelevantly to rally the troops. For, according to the article, David Kuo discovered that faith-based groups that contracted with the government actually cared enough about hiring according to religion that they set their lawyers to work to find a way “around the law so they could get the money.” They regard religious staffing to be so important as to set their lawyers busy to find a way around a ban on it! Isn’t that the meaning of the Kuo quote? And if it takes a “large and well lawyered” faith-based organization to be able to deal with a ban on religious staffing (i.e., to get around it), then how will enforcing such a ban–Sen. Obama’s plan–do anything other than obstruct the many small faith-based groups that Sen. Obama wants to get more involved?



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N. Diament

posted July 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm


Indeed, there are both political and policy dimensions to the issue of the right of religious entities to be hire people of their own faith onto their staff. The policy dimension is what you engage above. The political angle is much more ominous – see:
http://www.ou.org/public/statements/2001/nate22.htm



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Warren

posted July 3, 2008 at 2:14 pm


Speaking as someone working in the ministry, if I were in the position of getting federal money under Obama’s program, I would refuse. Of course, I’ve never been fond of government money going to faith-based programs anyway — I don’t want the government involved in funding my ministry work. Too many possibilities for problems.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 3, 2008 at 4:22 pm


==Speaking as someone working in the ministry, if I were in the position of getting federal money under Obama’s program, I would refuse.==
I would, too, unless I could be assured, in writing, that the money I get would not make me part of government, nor connect me with terms and conditions with which I don’t agree. You know that won’t be the case with NObama. The money always comes with strings. Now, I don’t blame them cuz, if I lent money to you, for ‘xample, there would be strings cuz it’s MY money, and that’s the rule of agreements. It’s the way the law of agreements works.
==Of course, I’ve never been fond of government money going to faith-based programs anyway — I don’t want the government involved in funding my ministry work. Too many possibilities for problems.==
You nail it right there.



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Candi

posted July 6, 2008 at 8:42 pm


Is there faith based hiring? I have found there is anti-religion hiring as in “going to church on Sunday morning does not fit my scheduling criteria”. What would he do with this. There are supposed to be laws, but the more they rewrite the laws the more ways are found to getr around them.
As to Obama? I don’t know. I scanned through the articles, but… the question should be, “should he even be elected?” He has changed course and back tracked so many times in this campaigne. First he is Christian, then he steps away from his church. Has he even mentioned church since? Then I hear that he wants the press to leave his wife out of it and what happens? His wife goes on the View. He speaks out against Hillary then I see him walking off stage with Hillary at a planned parenthood convention. He is now supporting same sex marital unions. And I haven’t watched tv in a few days now, but I am sure there is more.
When he started I figured he was too new and too young to win, but he is intelligent, articulate, and traveled. I figured he would be one to watch for the next elections, but now I know he is ONE TO WATCH.
First he is Christian then he steps away now he aligns himself with anti-christian movements. The Bible discusses people like this and not in nice terms.



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Corey Nathan

posted July 7, 2008 at 12:37 am


Candi, I have my concerns about Obama also. His lack of experience is a concern. His understanding of what really troubles many Americans is ariculate, but his statements about specific policy are not nearly as clear. If I’m optimistic about him, I might say that’s because he has a nuanced approach to each issue – which is necessary. If I’m pessimistic, I might say it’s because he’s either undecided, his stances are unformulated, he’s flat out manipulative or he’s elitist – there are plenty of issues that have been thrown out there already, many of them have credibility. However, I’ll continue to watch and listen in order to discern who I think is the best choice in Nov.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 7, 2008 at 11:59 pm


==…a nuanced approach to each issue…==
Whatever THAT is.
Well, give us an example of his “nuanced approach” to an issue, and explain the “nuance” of it that is, according to you, necessary.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm


==…you don’t read anything except to find something to contend with…==
So, you can’t handle it when you disagree with another poster. We see.
We hould all be holding hands and singing, “Cumbaya”?



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Corey Nathan

posted July 8, 2008 at 10:18 pm


Thanks for all the translation. That’s exactly what I was thinking. Do you really want me to answer your contention… er, question?
Okay, seriously, I find myself having a rather visceral response to what you choose to respond to and the way you choose to respond. I find it most uncharitable. That said, I apologize for not extending you the same courtesy in some of my own posts that I would like from you.
In all seriousness, which are your most pressing questions, concerns or inconsistencies that you’d like me to either explore or clarify?



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 9, 2008 at 6:01 am


==I find myself having a rather visceral response to what you choose to respond to and the way you choose to respond.==
You never specify.
==I find it most uncharitable.==
Specify.
== …which are your most pressing questions, concerns or inconsistencies that you’d like me to either explore or clarify?==
Those posts have disappeared, apparently.



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Corey Nathan

posted July 9, 2008 at 11:44 am


Okay, let me clarify what I think is central to our differences. I think you initially identified me as an Obama supporter and thus, made other conclusions about my theology. Central to this theology in terms of where it intersects politics are the issues of abortion and gay marriage. I’d like to tell you categorically, that I believe life starts at conception. I’d also like to tell you categorically, that I take Romans 1, 1 Tim. and Titus at face value in their discussion of homosexuality. It is clearly listed as sin, not God’s best. The one thing I would like to add is that especially in the 1 Tim. and Titus discussions, I can’t help but see that it’s included in a list of sinful behavior, many of which I am personally guilty of. So while homosexuality is not one of the areas that I struggle with, several others are (as I’m sure you can see in my behavior towards you). Still, my own struggles and temptations take nothing away from what God clearly says about homosexuality. How’s that for a starting point of clarification?



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Corey Nathan

posted July 9, 2008 at 11:46 am


(One last confession: I’m cringing now because I’m awaiting a response from you that might be filled with criticism of any or all of what I just said. So I’m begging you from one Christian to another – or even if you don’t think I’m a Christian, from one guy who’s sincerely seeking to a Christian – go easy on me.)



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 9, 2008 at 6:26 pm


==I think you initially identified me as an Obama supporter…==
What you said identified you as a supporter, and I went with the fumes that came off what you wrote.
==… and thus, made other conclusions about my theology.==
I didn’t address your, personal “theology.” You may have concluded, from what I wrote, in the heat of the moment, that I targeted your “theology.”
== Central to this theology in terms of where it intersects politics are the issues of abortion and gay marriage.==
As I have said, I think, in another thread, that God wants godly men in public service, office. For that to happen, you gotta have a godly electorate. However, today, that ain’t happenin’. The disconnect is clearer than clear. The Devil couldn’t be happier.
== …I believe life starts at conception.==
This is a good start.
==…I take Romans 1, 1 Tim. and Titus at face value in their discussion of homosexuality. It is clearly listed as sin, not God’s best. The one thing I would like to add is that especially in the 1 Tim. and Titus discussions, I can’t help but see that it’s included in a list of sinful behavior, many of which I am personally guilty of. So while homosexuality is not one of the areas that I struggle with, several others are (as I’m sure you can see in my behavior towards you). Still, my own struggles and temptations take nothing away from what God clearly says about homosexuality. How’s that for a starting point of clarification?==
We are clearly getting there.
The most important thing, in these last days, is getting people going in the right direction, especially those of the House of Israel — spiritual Israel — help them to keep from straying.
However, in many, if not most, cases, it’s more difficult to talk with Christians than it is to talk with unbelievers, and, as I say, the Devil is happy about that, that there are so many variations, so many versions, so many translations and so many and diverse discussions and other confusions. The job is to find a way for all who believe to go in the right direction, and, for me, it’s disturbing to see how many Christians wanna go in their own direction.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 9, 2008 at 6:38 pm


==(One last confession: I’m cringing now because I’m awaiting a response from you that might be filled with criticism of any or all of what I just said. So I’m begging you from one Christian to another – or even if you don’t think I’m a Christian, from one guy who’s sincerely seeking to a Christian – go easy on me.)==
I’m aware that I am misunderstood, even in person, where it takes time to get to know that I am harmless. A fuzzball.
I’m not looking for a fight when I post here and elsewhere. I’m not posting for effect. I’m not into SFX posting, a la Spielberg.
I’m not here just to shake the trees, although I wanna shake the trees to see what falls out so I can see where I and others stand.
I’m not a drive-by poster. I intend to stop and unload what I got, and, so, I stop and unload what I got, and I don’t leave until I’m outta ammo.
I am one-a the few who won’t shrink from saying, based on what is before me. If it needs to be said, I’ll say it. It will be direct and it will be as complete as possible.
Whenever the whistle blows, you’ll always know where to find me: In the middle of the play.



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Corey Nathan

posted July 9, 2008 at 8:44 pm


Mr. I, I really appreciate your last set of responses. Again, I apologize for what I’ve projected onto you. I’m guilty of doing the very things that I’ve accused you of. So thanks for giving me an insight into your posts. (And please don’t think I’m trying to sweet talk or patronize. I’ve really been wrestling with this back and forth, even tormented – but that has more to do with my own reactions.)
One thing I’m curious about (for now, at least). You’ve made mention a couple times about being in the last days/end times. Could you point me in the direction of some Scriptural support that informs your thinking there? Obviously, I’m a big fan of Genesis through Revelation. But if you could narrow it down a bit, that would be great. Is it safe to say that we’re in a specific time in between the Resurrection of Jesus and the general Resurrection to come? (And no, just for clarification, I don’t think everyone’s going to heaven. Jesus is the Way, and the Truth and the Life. And no one comes to the Father but through (Jesus Christ).) But I think my sense of eschatology might be different than yours.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 9, 2008 at 10:33 pm


==Mr. I, I really appreciate your last set of responses. Again, I apologize for what I’ve projected onto you.==
Accepted, and, if I’ve displayed other than what I’ve intended, I’m sorry it became an issue.
== I’m guilty of doing the very things that I’ve accused you of. So thanks for giving me an insight into your posts. (And please don’t think I’m trying to sweet talk or patronize. I’ve really been wrestling with this back and forth, even tormented – but that has more to do with my own reactions.)==
I appreciate your honesty.
==One thing I’m curious about (for now, at least). You’ve made mention a couple times about being in the last days/end times. Could you point me in the direction of some Scriptural support that informs your thinking there?==
Genesis 49:1
Isaiah 2:2
Micah 4:1
Acts 2:17
2 Timothy 3:1
Hebrews 1:2
James 5:3
2 Peter 3:3
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
1 Thessalonians 5:2-6
On such short notice, that’s what I got. It’s a starter set. I have notes of more that I have yet to collate. So, I guess I need to get busy and get everything together on this subject.
==Is it safe to say that we’re in a specific time in between the Resurrection of Jesus and the general Resurrection to come?==
According to my understanding, Jesus was resurrected. When He comes this time, it isn’t Resurrection since He has already been resurrected, already demonstrated His Power over the works of Satan. When He comes this time, He comes to rule, having already demonstrated His Power so that all could see and understand. Of course, most still do not see and do not understand. If they still don’t when He comes, He will save only a few.
== (And no, just for clarification, I don’t think everyone’s going to heaven. Jesus is the Way, and the Truth and the Life. And no one comes to the Father but through (Jesus Christ).)==
This is coo-uhl. I’m down wit dat.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 9, 2008 at 10:57 pm


I suppose the real test of the last days is Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13, and how what Jesus says in them lines up with events, or how events line up with what He says in them.
Now, will it be the end of the world? No. It will be for the disobedient, but not the obedient. God’s Saints will come back to a cleaned-out Earth.



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Corey Nathan

posted July 9, 2008 at 11:52 pm


I’ll take a look at the Scripture you laid out. Thanks.
The big issue that doesn’t seem to make sense that you clarified is this other idea (that many Christians portray) of this world being completely scrapped for a “new earth.” I think what you’re saying with “a cleaned-out Earth” is much more consistent with other major factors such as Jesus’ bodily Resurrection and the bodily resurrection promised to the faithful. The other idea of this earth going to the cosmic trash can would seem to imply a disembodied resurrection which is neo-Platonist. (I don’t know if I’m making any sense. I’m just trying to make sense of it myself.) But let me take a look at all the Scripture and see if I can make more sense of it.
The other big thing is how this view of eschatology plays out in this life with issues such as… Obama v. McCain… Can you see now why I’m at such odds with these sorts of things? Too many things to figure out and work through all while I’m getting pounded by the world and my own misgivings all at the same time.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 10, 2008 at 8:35 am


==Too many things to figure out and work through all while I’m getting pounded by the world and my own misgivings all at the same time.==
That’s why we give it all to the LORD, having realized, through Jesus — the Word — that we can’t figure any of it out on our own.
Is the world more powerful than Jesus and His Blood??? NO! Then — and take this the right way — stop acting as though the world is more powerful than He Who says that, sure, you’re gonna get pounded by the world, but, He says, “So what? You got Me, don’t you? And I conquered all that, if I remember correctly.”
Reminds me of what I have been thinking lately about people who are depressed, as an example.
A woman, say, comes to you and says that she’s depressed.
Well, she is confessing depression, and that confession will just enhance the depression, not save her. She should be confessing the LORD, through Jesus. But no. She wants YOU to confess her depression with her, so she can feel good about feeling bad. She wants your witness, a negative witness, not the witness of Good Things. If you oblige her, you’re doing her no good, just helping her do bad, and Genesis 4:7 says, that, if you don’t do well, sin “lieth at the door,” and that brings up Job 1:22, then Jonah 2:7. It’s all about “remembrance” of the LORD, through Jesus. Therefore, it behooves you not to help her not do well, rather to do well which sounds like “dwell,” as in Psalm 23 and elsewhere: If you do well, you dwell, as well as do well, in the House of the LORD. There’s a relationship there between doing well and dwelling in the House of the LORD. In other words, if you take the last verse in Psalm 23 — dwell — you can sub “dwell,” not to change meaning, rather to get more understanding.
So, as difficult as it is — and the LORD knows that it is cuz He experienced it — He has provided a way — THE Way, as a matter of Fact– and He provides a demonstration of this Way in Matthew 4:1-11: Go to the Word when pounded by the world. Even when the world is seducing you with pleasantries and what seem like “gifts.”
You’ll notice that, in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus doesn’t engage in conversation — filthy conversation — with the Devil. He responds to the Devil’s attack, not with reasoning which can corrupt and, itself, be corrupted, rahter with the Word. The Devil — the world, “Egypt,” the sin nature — will always use “reason” try to make doing filthy things seem wonderful and natural cuz, well, reasoning IS natural.
However, we have to ask, “What reasoning is natural? All of it up’n’here? O’course not!” That’s why we have to guard the gate through which the Devil has inroads, if we aren’t careful. In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus shows us how to be careful.
This works with your own “misgivings,” too.
Hope this helps encourage you in the LORD, through Jesus. The real encouragement, though, is in the Word of God.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 10, 2008 at 8:40 am


By the way…
I ‘pose I coulda made it easier by posting the verses from Biblegateway. However, I think that this thing considers it spam and delays, or rejects, the post outright. That’s not right. We oughta be allowed and able to post support by linking to that support, if for no other reason than simplicity and ease.



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Corey Nathan

posted July 10, 2008 at 11:49 am


No worries, man. I actually enjoy looking the stuff up – whether it’s breaking my Bible in some more or cruising around biblegateway. I still have my homework from yesterday. So I’ll let you know how it goes.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 11, 2008 at 1:01 am


1 Tim 4
2 Tim 3:1



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