Obama’s Faith-Based Initiative

Here’s a headline to stop you in your tracks: “Obama Vows to Expand Bush’s Faith-Based Programs.” To which you can only say: What the hell’s going on?

The White House faith-based office didn’t start with George Bush. It actually started with Bill Clinton. But Bush changed it from a one-man shop into a full-fledged operation. And now Obama wants to expand it even further. Which is a big mistake.

Obama’s right about one thing. There are, indeed, problems that are too big for government to solve alone: poverty, hunger, homelessness, keeping families together. And churches and other nonprofits have always done a great job helping people in need.

But here’s where he’s wrong. They shouldn’t be getting government money to do their charitable work. Because it’s a clear violation of the separation of church and state. And because, with every government dollar, there are government strings attached. Over hiring practices, program content, or conditions of the workplace, for example. Churches should not become branch offices of the federal government.

Nor should taxpayer dollars be used, as they have under George Bush, as political payback to reward those religious leaders who supported you in the last election.

We’ve been there, we tried it, it’s a bad idea. Government-sponsored, faith-based programs are bad for the churches, bad for the government, and especially bad for Barack Obama.

We expected change we could believe in. In this case, it looks like we’re getting more of the same instead.


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