The problems with the Lubavitch

Do any other Democrats have a problem with this? The first in line would probably be the Lubavitch!
July 13, 2008, 10:48 pm
Filed under: separation of church and state, unfaithful | Tags: ,

Obama Urges More Aid to Faith-Based Groups

By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | July 2, 2008

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Senator Obama is calling for an expansion of one of President Bush‘s signature domestic initiatives: a hotly debated program to deliver more federal aid through so-called faith-based groups affiliated with churches and other religious institutions.

Senator Obama talks to the Reverend Bill Briggs yesterday as he tours the East Community Ministry in Zanesville.

“While these groups are often made up of folks who’ve come together around a common faith, they’re usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all and they’re particularly well-placed to offer help,” Mr. Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery at an appearance yesterday in Zanesville, Ohio. “I believe 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.”

Mr. Obama’s embrace of the faith-based program was seen by many analysts as part of a concerted shift to the political center by the presumptive Democratic nominee, though he denied yesterday that any such shift was under way. He said the idea to solicit more involvement by religious groups had roots in the work of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, as well as Mr. Bush.

A former head of Mr. Bush’s faith-based initiative, John DiIulio Jr., lavished praise on Mr. Obama’s proposal. “Many good community-serving initiatives can be built, expanded, or sustained on the common ground that Senator Obama has staked out for us here,” Mr. DiIulio said.

Early reports from the Associated Press and elsewhere about Mr. Obama’s plan triggered a wave of concern in some quarters that he was planning to permit groups to fire and hire on the basis of religion while operating government-funded programs.

“There was a bit of panic around here when the first reports came in,” a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Robert Boston, said. However, the panic subsided as it became clear Mr. Obama did not intend to allow religious-based discrimination with taxpayer money. “It’s not full-blown like we first thought,” Mr. Boston said.

During a news conference following his speech yesterday, Mr. Obama was asked to clarify his stance. “If a church or a synagogue wants to hire using its own money for its own membership, they can obviously hire people of their own faith. That makes perfect sense. If they are getting federal money to run programs that are providing services to the public, then both in the provision of those services and in the hiring they have to abide by” anti-discrimination laws, he said.

Asked about hiring gays in such programs, Mr. Obama noted there is no federal law against sexual-orientation discrimination, but he said religious groups would have to abide by state laws that bar the practice.

In a written statement yesterday afternoon, the executive director of Americans United, the Reverend Barry Lynn, described Mr. Obama’s faith-based foray as misguided. “I am disappointed,” he said. “This initiative has been a failure on all counts, and it ought to be shut down, not expanded.”

However, the church-state separation activist welcomed the presumptive Democratic nominee’s talk about enforcing the anti-discrimination rules. “It is imperative that public funds not pay for proselytizing or subsidize discrimination in hiring,” Rev. Lynn said. “Obama has promised that he will not support publicly funded proselytism or discrimination in hiring, and that’s an important commitment.”


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