Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4, President Barack Obama asserted that his administration has “turned the faith-based initiative around,” implying that his policies represent a sharp break from past practices.
That’s news to me. In fact, from where I’m sitting, the core of Obama’s faith-based initiative looks pretty much identical to the deeply problematic one created by President George W. Bush. A few tweaks on the margins don’t amount to real change.
One year after Obama announced his version of the faith-based office, civil rights and civil liberties groups such as mine are still fighting Bush-era battles over tax funding to religious groups that proselytize, job discrimination on religious grounds in public programs and lack of accountability. It’s disheartening.
I, like Barry Lynn, am growing impatient with Obama for “leaving the odious Bush faith-based scheme in place unchanged.” And I stand by Barry Lynn when he says:
Mr. President, this is not “change,” and I am losing “hope.” Please set your “faith-based” house in order. Shut down the Faith-based Council and issue executive orders and regulations clearly banning hiring bias and proselytizing by faith-based groups that take public funds.