Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wow, Obama wants to expand the Office of Faith Based Initiatives

You might remember that the transfer of social service functions from government to religious groups was one of the main things people were pissed off at George W. Bush for. The precedent is extremely scary and violates the idea that government should not establish any official religion. Yet here is Obama proposing an extension of it. No less than the New York Times has broken the story in This article (registration required).

"ZANESVILLE, Ohio — With an eye toward courting evangelical voters, Senator Barack Obama presented a plan here on Tuesday to expand on President Bush’s program of investing federal money in religious-based initiatives that are intended to fight poverty and perform community aid work.

“The fact is, the challenges we face today — from saving our planet to ending poverty — are simply too big for government to solve alone,” Mr. Obama said. “We need an all hands on deck approach.”

On the second day of a weeklong tour intended to highlight his values, Mr. Obama traveled to the battleground state of Ohio on Tuesday to present his proposal to get religious charities more involved in government programs. He delivered remarks after touring the Eastside Community Ministry here, a program providing food, clothes and youth ministry.


“I know there are some who bristle at the notion that faith has a place in the public square,” Mr. Obama said. “But the fact is, leaders in both parties have recognized the value of a partnership between the White House and faith-based groups.”"

People railed against Bush's Faith Based Initiatives as moving the country further towards Fascism. I wonder if they'll say the same thing about Obama's position, or if there'll be a repeat of the Glen Greenwald--Keith Olbermann tiff, where Greenwald called TV host Olberman out over changing his position of FISA spying now that Obama voted for it. Olbermann in that case said that FISA immunity was moving us towards a Fascist state. He used the word 'fascism'. Yet when Obama voted for it Olbermann congratulated him for 'standing up to the Left'.

There's little chance that Progressive bloggers will be able to ignore this story. It's on the front page of the New York Times online edition. In fact, it's the lede story.

*on edit: one day later the Obamicans have spoken. There's one pro-faith based initiative editorial on Huffington Post, one article on Counterpunch (lede) that examines Paraguayan politics in relation to Obama without mentioning his unequivocal support of faith based initiatives (it's like, about the voters, man), Rawstory has a link to the Obama story, but it's one of the smallest on the front page, while Commondreams did the right thing and put up the story on its news wire yesterday when it broke. Cursor.org also does the right thing by putting the Obama story high up on its list of latest updates. I've got to emphasize again: when Bush started the Office of Faith Based Initiatives it was labeled as fascist, as extremist, and as unconstitutional. It still is. But when Obama supports it there's some sort of mysterious transformation from fascism to pragmatism.

My question is whether the Obama supporters have any real values, or whether they're weak enough in their beliefs to just follow the leader or to do what's popular in the moment? If you have real values and you're progressive you should take this as very scary and very objectionable, and protest it as much as the original program, started by John Ashcroft, was protested.

John Ashcroft was such an extremist that when he became Attorney General he had himself anointed with oil in a Pentecostal way.

But it's okay!


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