Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama's faith-based programs

Sarah Posner isn't doing her FundamentaList weekly column at The American Prospect Online any more. Which I think is too bad. It was a great weekly roundup of news on the Christian Right. But she's supposed to keep blogging there. And she has a new article out in The Nation, Obama's Faithful Flock 07/15/09 (08/03/09 issue), on the President's "faith-based" programs and some of the faithocrats involved. It's a mixed record, so far:

Although the Obama administration eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only sex education, the HHS website directs potential grantees to abstinence-only funding available through state governments. ...

[C]hurch-state separation advocates would prefer to eliminate the faith-based office entirely. But knowing that Obama was intent on keeping it, they supported him because of his campaign promises to reverse the most egregious aspects of Bush's policies. But Obama has reneged on his pledge, made in a July 2008 speech in Zanesville, Ohio, to undo Bush-era rules permitting direct taxpayer funding of religious institutions and allowing institutions that receive federal grants to engage in hiring discrimination based on religion.

On the direct-funding question, Obama is "encouraging," but not requiring, grant recipients to form secular nonprofits in order to receive federal aid. He punted on the hiring issue by referring questions on a "case-by-case" basis to White House and Justice Department lawyers; [Joshua] DuBois [head of the White House office on faith-based programs] will help decide which cases are referred for legal evaluation. In addition, although Obama promised to end proselytizing by faith-based grantees, no policy sets forth rules against proselytizing or a method of enforcing them.
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