Jay, you may be the only person in America who is shocked (yes,shocked) that President Obama is making good on campaign promises. During thecampaign, Obama was open about his pro-choice views on abortion. He vowed tooverturn the regressive (and frankly foolish) “Mexico City policy” and has done so. He saidhe would support the Freedom of Choice Act, and he does.


The one area where Obama has stepped away from his campaignpromises is the faith-based initiative. Obama said he would end religiousdiscrimination in these tax-funded programs, but now he is wavering, talkingvaguely about a possible review by the Justice Department somewhere down theline. One would think you would be pleased, yet all you do is continue tocomplain. I’m beginning to think you don’t like Obama strictly because he’s notof your political persuasion and that you will never applaud a single thing hedoes.


As for the nuts and bolts of the faith-based initiative,we’ve been here before. You assert, “The SupremeCourt has recognized that religious institutions have the constitutional rightto define their own mission, set their own doctrine and set forth their ownhiring criteria.” As usual, you don’t tell the whole story. Of course religiousgroups are free to determine their own policies with their own money. But public funding changes the moral and constitutionalcalculus – as it should.


You are aware of the numerouscontracting firms that exist inside and outside of the Washington, D.C.Beltway. They execute contracts for federal agencies – Education, Labor, Healthand Human Services, Defense and others. These firms are closely monitored bythe feds to make sure they are getting the job done – and, since the days ofFranklin D. Roosevelt, they have not been permitted to discriminate in hiring. (I’mtrying to imagine the uproar if one of these firms took $250 million to overseea project for, say, the U.S. Education Department and then said, “Thanks forthe money. By the way, we won’t be hiring any people who belong to the DutchReformed Church because, well, we just don’t like ’em.”) Why should religiousgroups that accept government contracts expect to get their own sweet deal?Bottom line: If you don’t want the government regulations and oversight, just don’ttake the money!


I’ve never been afraid tocriticize a president with whom I am in accord on many other ideologicalmatters: Obama is wrong, so far, on the faith-based initiative. He’s messed thisup big time, and if he doesn’t reverse course soon, it will come back to haunthim. For some inexplicable reason, Obama seems determined to use thefaith-based initiative to woo white evangelicals – 74 percent of whom did notvote for him – instead of reforming it to please the people who actually pulleda lever for him in November. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t get it.


The good news is, more and morepeople are speaking out. Americans United and its allies haven’t been shy inletting Obama know we’re disappointed, and I was pleased to see this group ofAfrican-American activists lifting up their voices. 

You ask what Obama will do next. Idon’t know, but I have some thoughts on what I’d like to see him do next:respect the Constitution and civil rights/liberties by ending noxious forms ofreligious bias in taxpayer-funded faith-based programs.

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