Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Not Happy

Sen. Barack Obama pledged today to expand Pres. Bush's Faith-based Initiatives. Obama would rename the program the "Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" and would make it a "moral center" for his administration. He would also support some ability of religious institutions to hire and fire based on faith in the non-taxpayer supported areas of their work. (The little caveat about "non-taxpayer supported areas" conveniently ignores the fact that funding is, well, fungible.)

This proposal certainly is a brilliant maneuver on Obama's part to try to woo or split the Evangelical bloc... But it is also the definition of pandering. Doling out federal funds to religious organizations and permitting employers to discriminate in the name of God are bad policies no matter who proposes them. Hiring and firing based on "faith" is really just code for letting certain businesses exclude gays and lesbians.

Given Obama's strong record on gay rights, I trust he will only sell us out so far. I'm not happy, but he still has my vote. Although one wonders whether Obama would have been willing to cut this deal if Mormons still named blacks a, "dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people," whom God had, "cursed," with a, "skin of blackness." You can read Obama's plan here.


USWest said...

I remember back when the primaries were going on that I was skeptical a little about Obama's lefty credentials. On Iraq in particular, I was skeptical that he would be able to pull troops out of the country on a fast track. And now he is hedging on this a little. He says that he wants to talk to Iran, but has not removed the threat of military action from the table.

He has even indicated that he can't take a real position on what to do with Gitmo until he has been fully briefed.

He has softened his stance on tax breaks fro large corporations and on increases in capital gains taxes.

I understand that he has to move toward the middle to challenge McCain. But all of this makes me sad and wary. The proof is in the pudding. Will he be all that he promises to be or will the message of change merely be rhetoric?

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes, this annoys me greatly. Not enough to change my vote - not by a long shot - but it does annoy me.

This is what we get when US politics is reduced to a debate between the relgious left and the religous right. The seperation of church and state becomes base eccumenicalism. So long as all MAJOR relgions are given a seat at the table, all's right with the world.

Obama is a consensus builder. Such people will rarely conform entirely to any one person's or group's list of policy preferences. But it is recipe for a new kind of politics based on compromise rather than domination.

I would prefer it if a majority of Americans were as wise as me and saw the folly and inherent tyrrany of religified politics and politicized religion. But that is, sadly, not the situation. So I make common cause with people, like Obama or Jimmy Carter who share many of my policy preferences even though we disagree about things like religion.

Raised By Republicans said...

You know, the more I think about this the less surprised I am. Think about what Obama was doing before he ran for office. He was a community organizer in mainly Black neighborhoods in Chicago. That means working a lot with churches.

If Obama takes the "faith based initiative" program and broadens it to include groups it has so far not included, like Muslims, Jews, and left-wing churches, then that will at least be an improvement over what we have now - a pork barrel payoff to conservative Evangelicals.

I would prefer it be abolished and that we fund any increases in the welfare demands that result by taxes religious organizations' assets. But no one listens to me.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I'm not happy about this new faith-based stuff either. But Obama did say he was going to bridge partisan divides in this country, and that probably means this sort of thing. Telling evangelical groups that electing Obama won't cost them any dough is good politics when they don't like McCain much.

As for faith-based employment decisions, I also think that sucks as a matter of principle. It's giving into bigotry. He also supports ENDA, though - it's probably an intended tradeoff.

I never expected to be 100% happy with Obama.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Congratulations, secular leftists and LGBT activists! You've been triangulated :-)

The Law Talking Guy said...

You know, I just read Obama's comments, and I think the press reporting on this missed the sleight-of-hand. Obama is proposing renaming the office the "Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships" which will give out money to both faith-based and secular groups.

In other words, Obama wants to keep the Bush faith-based office but expand it to cover secular non-profits too. He also added "And we'll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work." He's signalling he'll drop-kick the Jesus-based drug re-hab programs that are actually the raison d'etre of Bush's efforts (he went through them, after all).

He also added "Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don't believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we'll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work." I take this to mean that it won't be, as it is now, carte blanche for bigotry.

So I think what Obama is proposing really is to co-opt the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives for larger outreach to charitable organizations while weeding out what I would politely term "the crazy shit." All in all, rather clever for this to get packaged as a sop to evangelicals.

Raised By Republicans said...

"I think the press reporting on this missed the sleight-of-hand. Obama is proposing renaming the office the "Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships" which will give out money to both faith-based and secular groups."

If this is true then what Obama is proposing sounds an awful lot like a return to the way things were set up 40 years ago, no?

Bush faced a new status quo where all the local programs (both secular and religious) had been defunded. He proposed refunding only the religious ones. Now Obama is proposing refunding the rest.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S. are you outraged, annnoyed or merely dissapointed? I'm having trouble guaging your mood in this thread. Are you shocked, shocked to find that an American politician is making nice with religious organizations?

The Law Talking Guy said...

I'm not sure the feds ever funded local community groups.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR, the title of the post alludes to my mood: "Not Happy." To be more precise, you could say Obama has served me a lunch-sized portion of disappointment with a side of annoyance. I'm not sending my meal back to the kitchen, but don't expect a 20% tip.

As LTG and RbR point out, even in this area Obama appears to offer an improvement over the status quo--and this is not a big issue in the larger scheme of things anyhow. What concerns me more is what new, unpleasant surprises he may roll out next.

USWest said...

didn't Bill Clinton do the same thing when ran? Didn't he run left in the Primary and then center in the presidental? And he played the center for 8 years.

I agree with Dr. S, as I indicated . . . it makes me wonder.