Jennifer Loven of the Chicago AP bureau reports today that Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand the amount of federal social service funding that will be going to religious organizations that provide services to their local communities.

CHICAGO (AP) – Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans that would expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and – in a move sure to cause controversy – support their ability to hire and fire based on faith.

Obama was unveiling his approach to getting religious charities more involved in government anti-poverty programs during a tour and remarks Tuesday at Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio. The arm of Central Presbyterian Church operates a food bank, provides clothes, has a youth ministry and provides other services in its impoverished community.

"The challenges we face today, from putting people back to work to improving our schools, from saving our planet to combating HIV/AIDS to ending genocide, are simply too big for government to solve alone," Obama was to say, according to a prepared text of his remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "We need all hands on deck."

Read the full article at http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080701/D91L1BDO1.html

Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.,  described the faith-based initiative program in the July / August 2001 issue of Liberty Magazine, and had this to say:

True charity is ennobling of everyone involved, both those giving and those who receive. A government grant is ennobling of no one. Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this more than 150 years ago when he called for the abolition of public relief, citing the fact that private charity established a "moral tie" between giver and receiver. But that tie is destroyed when the money comes from an impersonal government grant. The donors (taxpayers) resent their involuntary contribution, while the recipients feel no real gratitude for what they receive.

Private charities may find even fewer people contributing voluntarily. If people come to believe that government will provide the funding, they may decide that there is less need for their own contributions. This will result in a loss not only of money, but of the human quality of charity. As Robert Thompson, of the University of Pennsylvania, noted a century ago, using government money for charitable purposes is a "rough contrivance to lift from the social conscience a burden that should not be either lifted or lightened in any way."

The result will be a substitution of coercive government tax financing in the place of compassion-based voluntary giving. That would mean an end to charity as we know it.

Read Michael Tanner's full article at http://libertymagazine.org/article/articleview/266/1/28/

 
 

36 Comments

  1. Kris L says:

    I think this is a smart move by Obama. He again refuses to bow to an either or mentality so common on the "Right" and the "Left." He is courting the younger evangelical vote that is tired of the "issues" being boiled down to abortion and gay marriage–as Jim Wallis notes there are some 3,000 bible verses that speak to issues of poverty and injustice.

  2. Kris L says:

    I think this is a smart move by Obama. He again refuses to bow to an either or mentality so common on the "Right" and the "Left." He is courting the younger evangelical vote that is tired of the "issues" being boiled down to abortion and gay marriage–as Jim Wallis notes there are some 3,000 bible verses that speak to issues of poverty and injustice.

  3. Olathe says:

    I like that Barack Obama is making promises to help poor people but making promises is not the same as following through on those promises. So I am hopeful that, if elected our next President of the United States, he will make a commitment to support those promises.

  4. Olathe says:

    I like that Barack Obama is making promises to help poor people but making promises is not the same as following through on those promises. So I am hopeful that, if elected our next President of the United States, he will make a commitment to support those promises.

  5. Em says:

    It's great that faith based charities are being expanded. Though they do sometimes discriminate against people outside of their faith, faith based charities do a lot of good in this country. I think in some cases it is okay for faith based charities to discriminate in hiring based on faith because employees outside of their faith might not hold the same values as the charity which might affect their work there.

  6. Em says:

    It's great that faith based charities are being expanded. Though they do sometimes discriminate against people outside of their faith, faith based charities do a lot of good in this country. I think in some cases it is okay for faith based charities to discriminate in hiring based on faith because employees outside of their faith might not hold the same values as the charity which might affect their work there.

  7. sam says:

    I like to believe Obama is speaking from his beliefs on this subject. We need all the charitable organizations we can get and the necessary support to keep them going. I don't know if Obama and conservative Christians have much common ground but this is an area where Obama's belief that we are all Americans and all in this endeavor together can appeal to people who do not necessarily share all his beliefs.

  8. sam says:

    I like to believe Obama is speaking from his beliefs on this subject. We need all the charitable organizations we can get and the necessary support to keep them going. I don't know if Obama and conservative Christians have much common ground but this is an area where Obama's belief that we are all Americans and all in this endeavor together can appeal to people who do not necessarily share all his beliefs.

  9. kris says:

    While I agree that the social problems we face are too big for government alone to handle and solve, I do not agree with government funding of religious charities. Where government puts it's money it usually wants some control in exchange and permitting government to have any control in religious charities aside from granting tax deductions to contributors and non-profit status to the organization is starting down a very slippery slope that is a very dangerous one.

  10. kris says:

    While I agree that the social problems we face are too big for government alone to handle and solve, I do not agree with government funding of religious charities. Where government puts it's money it usually wants some control in exchange and permitting government to have any control in religious charities aside from granting tax deductions to contributors and non-profit status to the organization is starting down a very slippery slope that is a very dangerous one.

  11. Angela says:

    I do tend to agree with Tanner's quote… the government mixing with private religious charities seems like a bad brew. But, at the same time, Obama is correct in stating that we need "all hands on deck". There are many people who would give less to these charities if they knew they were getting government money and at the same time, those charities would be getting a definite amount of money they can count on instead of worrying about scraping things together. Its a tough issue.

  12. Angela says:

    I do tend to agree with Tanner's quote… the government mixing with private religious charities seems like a bad brew. But, at the same time, Obama is correct in stating that we need "all hands on deck". There are many people who would give less to these charities if they knew they were getting government money and at the same time, those charities would be getting a definite amount of money they can count on instead of worrying about scraping things together. Its a tough issue.

  13. Kim says:

    This morning I heard on the news about this move alienating the "left" but I have to say, I really don't think that'll be the case. I think the left is smart enough to see that this isn't a move to alienate one group or another. I can't say I agree with being able to hire and fire based on faith, but I can see some jobs where that MIGHT be an applicable issue.

  14. Kim says:

    This morning I heard on the news about this move alienating the "left" but I have to say, I really don't think that'll be the case. I think the left is smart enough to see that this isn't a move to alienate one group or another. I can't say I agree with being able to hire and fire based on faith, but I can see some jobs where that MIGHT be an applicable issue.

  15. wendy says:

    I'd like to believe Obama is sincere with this latest move. Sadly, I can't help but think it's just another strategy or tactic to get votes.

  16. wendy says:

    I'd like to believe Obama is sincere with this latest move. Sadly, I can't help but think it's just another strategy or tactic to get votes.

  17. Jameca says:

    I feel that Barack Obama is being truthful about expanding faith based charities. He is a person that truly and geniunely cares about people. We as a society need more faith based charities in order to help it ills. We definitely need God at the forefront of our lives expecially with all that is going on in the US and around the world.

  18. Jameca says:

    I feel that Barack Obama is being truthful about expanding faith based charities. He is a person that truly and geniunely cares about people. We as a society need more faith based charities in order to help it ills. We definitely need God at the forefront of our lives expecially with all that is going on in the US and around the world.

  19. Jameca says:

    I feel that Barack Obama is being truthful about expanding faith based charities. He is a person that truly and geniunely cares about people. We as a society need more faith based charities in order to help it ills. We definitely need God at the forefront of our lives expecially with all that is going on in the US and around the world.

  20. jhopwood says:

    I am very disappointed in Barack Obama. Thomas Hardy said a man's character is his destiny, and from what I've learned from life, it is true. His abandonment, nay, his repudiation of Jeremiah Wright, who was his surrogate father, was shameful. It shows a lack of character. I heard many white liberals say, now that he had done it, the issue is dead. How can the commission of the Oedipal sin of repudating one's father be equated with the issue being "dead," except to white people, many of whom already are spiritually dead, a people who, in Obama's own words, "don't get" African American religion? The issue should be alive, more alive, for what it reveals about the man. I believe it is true that the most significant relationship a person has is with their god. What does it say about Obama? Why hasn't the white media addressed this, or is it just glad to have the "dead rat" that is Jeremiah Wright swept out of the kitchen. I think this faith-based initiative announcement is just another ploy, a smokescreen. The goverment had jo place funding religious organizations, not matter what good they do. Bush's faith-based initiatives merely diverted government funds from venerable secular organizations that already had been doing good in their communities.

  21. jhopwood says:

    I am very disappointed in Barack Obama. Thomas Hardy said a man's character is his destiny, and from what I've learned from life, it is true. His abandonment, nay, his repudiation of Jeremiah Wright, who was his surrogate father, was shameful. It shows a lack of character. I heard many white liberals say, now that he had done it, the issue is dead. How can the commission of the Oedipal sin of repudating one's father be equated with the issue being "dead," except to white people, many of whom already are spiritually dead, a people who, in Obama's own words, "don't get" African American religion? The issue should be alive, more alive, for what it reveals about the man. I believe it is true that the most significant relationship a person has is with their god. What does it say about Obama? Why hasn't the white media addressed this, or is it just glad to have the "dead rat" that is Jeremiah Wright swept out of the kitchen. I think this faith-based initiative announcement is just another ploy, a smokescreen. The goverment had jo place funding religious organizations, not matter what good they do. Bush's faith-based initiatives merely diverted government funds from venerable secular organizations that already had been doing good in their communities.

  22. ErinK says:

    Like a few others here, I am concerned that Obama is just making promises to try and get into the office. Of course, he would not be the first person to do so, but this presidential race seems so heated. I would like to be able to trust the word of someone for once. Ooutside of McCain's POW speeches (and I am NOT knocking him, God Bless him for his struggle), I just don't see many things that I can trust with him.

  23. ErinK says:

    Like a few others here, I am concerned that Obama is just making promises to try and get into the office. Of course, he would not be the first person to do so, but this presidential race seems so heated. I would like to be able to trust the word of someone for once. Ooutside of McCain's POW speeches (and I am NOT knocking him, God Bless him for his struggle), I just don't see many things that I can trust with him.

  24. Shelly says:

    I guess it would be pointing out the obvious to say that federal funding going to faith based organizations is a flagrant violation of separation of church and state. Any organization that receives federal support (i.e.: my tax dollars) needs to be an equal opportunity employer. They should not have the right to discriminate based on religion anymore than race or gender.

  25. Shelly says:

    I guess it would be pointing out the obvious to say that federal funding going to faith based organizations is a flagrant violation of separation of church and state. Any organization that receives federal support (i.e.: my tax dollars) needs to be an equal opportunity employer. They should not have the right to discriminate based on religion anymore than race or gender.

  26. Kate says:

    Hmmmm… I thought I read/heard that Obama's proposal would specifically prohibit hiring based on faith. I'm pretty sure I heard him say that on the news this weekend. My overall impression is — old news. This program started under Clinton (1996-2000), Bush continued it without hiring controls, and Obama is offering to continue it with hiring controls. The program has always prohibited funding of worship related activities. Obama would not change that.

    Can a faith organization provide social welfare services without proselytizing? Of course it can. Does that make the programs "faith-based?" No it doesn't. Not any more than it would be if a person of faith worked in a secular welfare organization. I think the term "faith-based" is capable of causing a knee jerk, chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling reaction among some.

    I was opposed to this program in 1996 but have yet to see the wholesale destruction of the wall separating church and state. Does it chip away at the wall? It can if the program is not monitored to make sure proselytizing doesn't occur. But the real proselytizers have not liked any muzzling of their religious mission embodied in the Clinton law, which has discouraged applications. In that regard, it appears to be self-policing against potential violations of church-state separation. Otherwise, it has the potential to do a lot of good. Obama knows this. He knows that in many of the neediest communities in this country, church provided social services stand as a last bastion against some of the more horrific outcomes of poverty and ignorance. I find it interesting that the pundits take such great delight in skewering him, accusing him of pandering to the religious right — totally ignoring his history as a community organizer who saw firsthand the good that church-based social services can do.

    We need to accept the fact that the cow has been let out of the barn already by the last Democratic president. We've had 12 years to see some form of this program it in action and all hell has not broken loose, mostly because of a lack of funding and lack of applicants willing to forego their primary religious mission of "spreading the word." (Note: As I recall, the Catholic Church has a long history (even pre Clinton) of being on the receiving end of such funding by working out all the separation details down to the finest details, e.g., separate facilities, etc. — although such controls are not required under the Clinton law.)

    I, for one, can understand why Obama would decide to try and improve on the Clinton model instead of refusing to instruct his administration/agencies to abandon it. I'm willing to maintain an open mind about the good that can come from his vision of people launching out from churches, mosques, temples and synagogues with helping hands for the less fortunate.

  27. Kate says:

    Hmmmm… I thought I read/heard that Obama's proposal would specifically prohibit hiring based on faith. I'm pretty sure I heard him say that on the news this weekend. My overall impression is — old news. This program started under Clinton (1996-2000), Bush continued it without hiring controls, and Obama is offering to continue it with hiring controls. The program has always prohibited funding of worship related activities. Obama would not change that.

    Can a faith organization provide social welfare services without proselytizing? Of course it can. Does that make the programs "faith-based?" No it doesn't. Not any more than it would be if a person of faith worked in a secular welfare organization. I think the term "faith-based" is capable of causing a knee jerk, chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling reaction among some.

    I was opposed to this program in 1996 but have yet to see the wholesale destruction of the wall separating church and state. Does it chip away at the wall? It can if the program is not monitored to make sure proselytizing doesn't occur. But the real proselytizers have not liked any muzzling of their religious mission embodied in the Clinton law, which has discouraged applications. In that regard, it appears to be self-policing against potential violations of church-state separation. Otherwise, it has the potential to do a lot of good. Obama knows this. He knows that in many of the neediest communities in this country, church provided social services stand as a last bastion against some of the more horrific outcomes of poverty and ignorance. I find it interesting that the pundits take such great delight in skewering him, accusing him of pandering to the religious right — totally ignoring his history as a community organizer who saw firsthand the good that church-based social services can do.

    We need to accept the fact that the cow has been let out of the barn already by the last Democratic president. We've had 12 years to see some form of this program it in action and all hell has not broken loose, mostly because of a lack of funding and lack of applicants willing to forego their primary religious mission of "spreading the word." (Note: As I recall, the Catholic Church has a long history (even pre Clinton) of being on the receiving end of such funding by working out all the separation details down to the finest details, e.g., separate facilities, etc. — although such controls are not required under the Clinton law.)

    I, for one, can understand why Obama would decide to try and improve on the Clinton model instead of refusing to instruct his administration/agencies to abandon it. I'm willing to maintain an open mind about the good that can come from his vision of people launching out from churches, mosques, temples and synagogues with helping hands for the less fortunate.

  28. Alison Agins says:

    http://www.theocracywatch.org/faith_base.htm

    One really needs to do the research as to where that money…billions has gone and to whom.

    Bush has given out huge amounts to groups that oppose Abortion and are against sex education and pregnancy prevention.

    He has given huge amounts to those churchmen that have supported him. It has been a real payday for many of them.

    And what is really terrible about this is that it is your money and there is no accounting of how it is spent! Churches that do not openly give an accounting of where the money goes seem to have something to hide.

    If all the money that has been spent on the horrible war in Iraq and the money that was given out to churches had been actually spent on the poor, sick and hurting…wow think how many that would have helped!

  29. Alison Agins says:

    http://www.theocracywatch.org/faith_base.htm

    One really needs to do the research as to where that money…billions has gone and to whom.

    Bush has given out huge amounts to groups that oppose Abortion and are against sex education and pregnancy prevention.

    He has given huge amounts to those churchmen that have supported him. It has been a real payday for many of them.

    And what is really terrible about this is that it is your money and there is no accounting of how it is spent! Churches that do not openly give an accounting of where the money goes seem to have something to hide.

    If all the money that has been spent on the horrible war in Iraq and the money that was given out to churches had been actually spent on the poor, sick and hurting…wow think how many that would have helped!

  30. Alison Agins says:

    I have written the Obama campaign and asked that they give more thought to this.

    We want change and it starts with cleaning up after this mismanaged administration.

  31. Alison Agins says:

    I have written the Obama campaign and asked that they give more thought to this.

    We want change and it starts with cleaning up after this mismanaged administration.

  32. Fred Glynn says:

    I have no objection to tax money collected from atheists being sent to any religious institution provided, of course, that that institution is personally endorsed by God himself on prime-time TV. Self-appointed agents of God (like Pat Robertson, Bob Schuler, Gene Scott, Creslow Dollar, Charles Stanley, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Ted Haggard, etc.) simply will not do. It's got to be God himself–He's a big boy, He can do it! It's time for Him to come out of the closet.

    I'd wait until then before supporting any diversion of non-denominational tax funds to any religions organization.

  33. Fred Glynn says:

    I have no objection to tax money collected from atheists being sent to any religious institution provided, of course, that that institution is personally endorsed by God himself on prime-time TV. Self-appointed agents of God (like Pat Robertson, Bob Schuler, Gene Scott, Creslow Dollar, Charles Stanley, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Ted Haggard, etc.) simply will not do. It's got to be God himself–He's a big boy, He can do it! It's time for Him to come out of the closet.

    I'd wait until then before supporting any diversion of non-denominational tax funds to any religions organization.

  34. Fred says:

    Why don't these organizations get God to fund them directly? Why do they waste time asking the godless to support them?

 
 
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