Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama's Faith-Based Rhetoric Dialed Back

It appears that President Obama plans to take a more nuanced position on faith-based hiring provisions than he declared on the campaign trail this past fall. In a recent post, I shared how removing President Bush's allowance for limiting management hires to a particular religion would in many ways take the faith out of faith-based initiatives. Now, Obama seems to agree and is poised to announce a willingness to evaluate such issues on a case-by-case basis. This is a wise decision and extends what may be President Bush's biggest legacy. As we develop new faith venture businesses that employ individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison, this allows us to continue seeking government investment for start-up funds.

"Mr. Obama's goal, much like President George W. Bush's, is to harness the
power of churches and other religious groups to solve some of the nation's
toughest social problems. But almost from the start, the Bush plan was ensnared
by constitutional questions about the separation between church and state, most
notably whether an organization that received tax dollars can make hiring
decisions on the basis of religion.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama came down firmly against such hiring. But on
Thursday, he will take a more nuanced position, saying that these issues should
be decided on a case-by-case basis, said Joshua DuBois, the 26-year-old former
campaign adviser who will be named to head the White House Office for
Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships."

"Faith-Based Program Gets Wider Focus," Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2009

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