Faith-Based Initiative 2.0: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Leaders Ate Disappointed by Obama 'Faith-Based' Rollout

By Conn, Joseph L. | Church & State, March 2009 | Go to article overview

Faith-Based Initiative 2.0: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Leaders Ate Disappointed by Obama 'Faith-Based' Rollout


Conn, Joseph L., Church & State


Veteran Washington journalist Helen Thomas had a question for White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

"Does the president believe in separation of church and state?" she asked, during the Feb. 5 media briefing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Replied Gibbs, "He does."

Countered Thomas, "Then why does he keep this religious office open in the White House?"

That's a question that a lot of Americans are asking.

Earlier that day, President Barack Obama named a new executive director for his White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and signed an executive order creating a 25-member advisory council of religious and community leaders.

Obama chose Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old campaign worker and Pentecostal preacher, to lead the project. He also announced 15 members of the council, reflecting a wide range of religious and political views, including conservative evangelicals.

At the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton that Thursday morning, Obama cast his faith-based programas part of a wider effort to solve social and economic problems and lower tensions between religions worldwide.

The president said all traditions--from Christians, Jews and Muslims to Buddhists, Hindus and Humanists--teach people to love one another and treat others with respect. He said his faith-based program will "bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times."

Obama promised to respect constitutional mandates.

"The goal of this office," he said, "will not be to favor one religious group over another--or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state."

But civil liberties advocates said George W. Bush's faith-based venture blurred that line badly and Obama so far has failed to restore much-needed legal and constitutional clarity. While the president's prayer-breakfast speech was inclusive, his executive order and other actions that day did not correct the civil rights and civil liberties abuses of the Bush administration.

Obama left completely untouched five Bush executive orders and numerous agency regulations and rulings that allow publicly funded religious groups to discriminate in hiring on religious grounds and permit public funds to pay for construction and renovation of buildings used for worship.

That means billions of tax dollars in the federal pipeline are being allocated under the controversial Bush-era rules.

"I am very disappointed that President Obama's faith-based program is being rolled out without barring evangelism and religious discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "It should be obvious that taxpayer-funded religious bias offends our civil rights laws, our Constitution and our shared sense of values.

"I would rather there be no 'faith-based' office," Lynn continued. "But if it exists, it must comply with long-established protections guaranteeing civil rights and civil liberties."

Obama promised as much in a speech last summer in Zanesville, Ohio. He said he supported the concept of partnerships between government and faith-based organizations, but indicated that he would take a different approach from the Bush administration.

"[I]f you get a federal grant," insisted then-candidate Obama, "you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them--or against people you hire--on the basis of their religion."

AU's Lynn noted that during the presidential campaign, the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (chaired by Americans United) urged Obama and U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Faith-Based Initiative 2.0: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Leaders Ate Disappointed by Obama 'Faith-Based' Rollout
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.