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  • Obama's Flawed Faith-Based Plan

    Details are emerging today about Sen. Barack Obama’s proposal for a new “Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.” While information is still being released, there are two immediate concerns with the proposal:

    • The announcement emphasizes government funding — not changing the character of government to allow more space for civil society solutions.
    • But even worse, Obama’s plan says that when a faith-based organization takes federal dollars, it would lose its ability to preserve its faith-based character through maintaining hiring standards consistent with its mission. It could be forced to hire an atheist. In other words, it would strike at the heart of the faith-based initiative.

    Faith-based and community groups have tremendous potential to solve social problems because they are personal, flexible and local in their responses. By contrast, government programs are often large, one-size-fits-all and do not respond nearly as quickly.

    The Bush administration has rightly highlighted the significance of such faith-based and community groups in addressing social needs and urged that government change in ways that will allow such approaches to flourish. One primary emphasis has been the need to preserve the religious integrity of groups that participate in government programs to tackle social problems — this is essential to their mission and effectiveness.

    We should evaluate any policy efforts to maximize civil society and faith-based solutions by whether they move in the direction of reducing the size and scope of government and whether they help individuals escape dependence and achieve a life of independence.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    28 Responses to Obama's Flawed Faith-Based Plan

    1. Ed Smithe says:

      Oops. Perhaps that's why creating faith-based programs was a bad idea in the first place. While I accept that they are an infinitely better vehicle to deliver social services to at-risk populations, by introducing government dollars into their budgets, the Administration and its supporters effectively created a Trojan horse for future left-wing administrations to destroy the very foundations upon which these organizations derive their exceptional abilities (see above Obama plans). Parties can quibble about whether or not government dollars to religious-based organizations was an unconstitutional practice in the first place, but should Mr. Obama become President, what will no longer be in dispute is that outsourcing and expanding the welfare state to include religious organizations (despite the good intentions that underlie the practice) was a fatally flawed idea that will likely end up doing far more long-term harm to American society than good.

    2. infidel57, Austin, T says:

      "It could be forced to hire an atheist. In other words, it would strike at the heart of the faith-based initiative"

      I am an atheist. I pay taxes. These faith-based programs will be paid for with my taxes. To think that some Bible-pounding jackass would not hire a highly qualified because they don't subscribe to his particular superstition, but hire some simpering deity worshipper instead really rubs be the wrong way. Obama got it right.

    3. Leslie says:

      "It could be forced to hire an atheist."

      Then don't take the government handout. Your lot certainly knows how to get money from people in other ways.

    4. Rick Sparks says:

      Religion is for suckers. About time someone at an almost-Presidential level reminded them as such.

    5. Mike Herring, SC says:

      I would rather give the money to people that are volunteering their time and efforts to help people out of the goodness of their hearts rather than the people that just want a government sponsored job. The left wing government programs only want people that worship the gods of global warming, killing babies and redistribution of wealth.

    6. Pingback: Friendly Atheist » 2008 » July » 01

    7. Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Religious Right Blasts Obama’s Faith Based Plan

    8. Kristina says:

      The strength of the faith based programs is that they promote that there is something greater than just the self – that there is God and an afterlife and something beyond this miserable existance. That's seems to resonate with some people – alot of people, and seems to have some affect on making the lives of people better and giving people hope for a better tomorrow. Of course many people, like those who've angrily posted here, don't subscribe to this philosophy, and openly disdain it. As for non-faith based initiatives, the government already funds them (because there is no need for strings attached. Where there is no faith, there is no need for governmental scrutiny in regards to the separation of church and state.) Someone, along the way, looked objectively at the product of government funded secular institutions and compared them with privatedly funded faith-base initiatives and discovered that the latter might actually produce more promising results. (Perhaps there may be a "biased" study somewhere on this website that can prove my assertion.) And these results are a direct result of the "faith" part of "faith" based. You restrict the freedom to express and to "bible pound", you dismiss a possible solution. But since, Friendly Athiest, and Rick Sparks insist on making snearing comments about the people who practice faith, they will never see the solutions that having faith in God can provide. They have every right to their Agnosticism and Atheism – because I'm allowed to have my belief in God. (Just call me a Sucker.) I would rather read a thoughtful diatribe on why religion is for suckers. Otherwise, the posts just seem angry and lash out against a perception of cultural faith, rather than a true understanding of what they really believe. Then maybe they'll be able to produce a solution based on their non-faith that can be as productive as the faith-based initiatives – and create a program that would be worth the government's backing. As far as the taxpayer funding is concerned, consider the taxpayer is paying for results. These organizations should be allowed to work their programs in order to get the greatest results and that means hiring the best people who can make the greatest impact based upon the message of the program. That is the "heart" that is talked about and that is why many of these initiatives are hesitant to take goverment funds because of the ties and restrictions by government agencies.

    9. Mils says:

      I don't see anyone *forcing* you to take atheists' tax dollars. You're free to peddle your superstition with your own money, you thieving liars.

    10. sabrina says:


      If you'd like a list of more deserving secular charities ABC ran a story on them, and they're covered on Murray Waas's blog. They did a story on youth programs that should have been funded by the DOJ, but instead, programs that ranked lower and were cited as being ineffective got money, including one that promoted abstinence. Secular youth programs that actually worked with corrections officers to protect youth offenders in jail, to offer activities for at-risk urban youth, and others were not funded. Plus, do a simple google search, and you'll find articles about the Bush faith-initiative program funding charities whose main focus was prosletyzing, not helping. Thats why atheists/civil libertarians are upset; deserving programs get cut, while churches are getting millions in an obvious and craven attempt to score votes.

      By the way, your line about those organizations hiring the "best" people that can make the greatest impact is insulting, condescending, and wrong. Atheists don't have the market cornered on charity and giving, but neither do Christians. Why don't you judge someone on who they are, not what mythology they believe in?

    11. Ed Smithe says:


      As you'll note in my posting, I am not at all against faith-based programs per se. Rather, what I have a problem with is the shortsighted, emotionally driven thinking that has placed our religious institutions in jeopardy. You are upset that the government may move in and require these institutions to perform a whole host of activities that go against their principles. My question is, why didn't you worry about this possibility in the first place when you supported an increase in GOVERNMENT dollars to these programs?! Did you believe that President Bush would always be President of the United States?

      If so-called "conservatives" are going to support the concept of "limited government," the idea of making the welfare system "more effective" is absolutely incompatible with that principle. Just because we have the government perform the services and activities that we would like, does not in any way shape or form make it "conservative." Secondly, for all the talk of unintended consequences from our side, it's time to admit that we've just made the same mistake. By looking at these problems from an emotional lens (we need to help people) rather than a critical lens (what is the best way to help people that is consistent with our founding principles i.e. the CONSTITUTION) we have acted no better than liberals.

      My advice to you is to spend a bit of time in self-reflection and examine your thinking on this issue. Because of individuals like yourself, hundreds, if not thousands of churches across the nation will be irreparably damaged by your support for government spending in this arena.

    12. Dennis, New Jersey says:

      A better solution would be to allow a tax credit (not a deduction, but a full credit) for donations to bonafide faith-based organizations. This eliminates government involvement and the atheists won't have to worry about their tax dollars going to support GOD.

    13. Stephen, Chapel Hill says:

      Rick Sparks and the like-minded,

      I think it would be a wonderful exercise for the government to get out of the business of social programs and initiatives ( not in the Constitution) and let people fend for themselves for a while. It would be fun to watch how many compassionate atheist service organizations spring up. Religious "suckers" have been busy serving society with or without tax dollars since the beginning of this country and many before it. Those who deny God exists are rarely the ones leading the charge to better the world around them. Imagine how much good those "superstitious morons" would be able to do if they didn't have to surrender more than a quarter of their income so that we could all watch the government fail where they have demonstrated time and again their ability to succeed. Ask a Katrina victim about government assistance then ask them about those "moronic people of faith" you so vehemently detest. Believe or don't believe- your choice. But at least don't fool yourself into thinking that the freedom you enjoy would exist under any government not based on undeniably Christian principles. You should thank the God you choose not to believe in.

    14. Jim T, Jacksonville, says:

      Except for securing every individual's basic right to believe (or not) in God and the right to exercise that belief in their own manner – the government should not become involved in any faith-based issue whatsoever – either through funding or tax credits.

      Power over, and control of any recipient entity always follow the distribution federal tax dollars.

      The real issue isn't how well faith based organizations may address a given issue, but how badly the federal government fails at any effort it makes in social engineering. It consistently fails because it was never the intended function of our government to exercise any such control over our lives.

      Federal prohibition of alcohol consumption failed. Federally forced retirement funding is failing. And any federal healthcare system will similarly fail – because it simply isn't the function of good government to control such aspects of our lives in any such manner.

    15. Dennis, New Jersey says:

      Jim T, Jacksonville, Florida wrote:

      Except for securing every individual’s basic right to believe (or not) in God and the right to exercise that belief in their own manner – the government should not become involved in any faith-based issue whatsoever – either through funding or tax credits.

      I agree with you. I only proposed a tax credit as a poor substitute for lower taxes and less government involvement. Let's face it, many people look to the government for help when trouble occurs. The government responds by raising taxes (or spending money they don't have) for programs that don't work very well, which reduces the amount of money available to faith-based and other community organizations. If faith-based and other local organizations had more resources, maybe people would look to them more often and they would come to learn the benefits over government supplied help. In time, perhaps the government would not be the first place people go to for help. The idea of a tax credit was to move resources away from the government and let individuals decide how their money is used to help the less fortunate.

    16. dave, laguna niguel, says:

      We conservatives(dems and reps)will now use the lefties tack and call people names, you know the old fight fire with fire axiom. It really shows a very tiny mind to not accept even the possibility of a Higher Power in this magnificent universe laid before us. And as for an after-life, why do we have consciousness? All animals can build but only mankind can create, because we were created in the image and likeness of GOD, so we are mini-creators with our minds. What I reject in organized religion is "fear of God". God is LOVE so why fear LOVE? We all know we are going to leave this life at some point so why not do something positive and good while we are here? Government is certainly NOT the answer. We have prima donna politicians, funny how they are all democrats thrown in our face on a daily basis by the liberal media complex, who set themselves apart from the laws of this country, look down on the citizenry like AlGORE does,fly around in their private jets, give themselves raises and pension increases while telling US to tighten our belts, take our money by raising taxes then giving that money away just to make themselves FEEL better(you know, thats the liberal way!), The social security system is broke because they gave all that money away, like Kennedy's bill to pay illegals and immigrants out of SS funds and they NEVER PAID A DIME INTO IT! The medicare system is a joke with BILLIONS paid in fraudulent claims and nobody cares! And you want to make government even bigger with a disastrous national health care system?! The politicians have already ruined the best health care system in the world by allowing all the frivolous law suits! ONLY IN THE US! AND, politicians have done the same thing to American businesses through over regulation and per Bill Clinton made villans of them all! You heard him, big oil, big computer, big tobacco, big pharmaceutical!! Well what about BIG GOVERNMENT which tells us how to raise children, children report your parents to the police if they discipline you, takes most of our hard earned money in taxes, makes us pay through the nose for social security then tells us " it may be bankrupt soon" when they have already given ALL the money away, arrests us for what we THINK OR SAY, provides schools which DO NOT TEACH and of course makes us pay for it, and it just does not stop! We as the people of what USED to be the greatest nation on earth(until the Clintons and Obamas want us to be like the rest of the world, you know, on the same level as Ethiopia for instance)need to rise up and demand politicians start looking out for OUR interests, rather than the terrorists and other enemies who want to bring us down, and to be held accountable for what they do with OUR MONEY! I know money isn't everything, but if you had NONE right now, what would you do?

    17. Mike (FVThinker) Bur says:

      It could be forced to hire an atheist. In other words, it would strike at the heart of the faith-based initiative.

      How very very telling!! So you are saying the mission of the Faith-Based Initiative is not to feed the hungry, but to proselytize and bring people to God!! …with public monies no less!! Not in my country it's not.

    18. Bill LaNeave , Dayto says:

      When you consider the huge amount of government funding that already subsidizes certain 'belief systems' that have become a 'religion' to their core believers (i.e. Planned Parenthood; Amtrak; EPA and National Healthcare) it is hard to imagine why anyone would be opposed to Faithbased Inititives. Unless it is because those opposed to Faithbased Inititives already see Big Government as a jealous god unwilling to share the appreciation and devotion of those the inititives may help.

    19. Todd Tucson, AZ says:

      Hey Rick and friends, We can always count on your type to immediately put down people of faith. You probably hate the Founding Fathers too. PS, FACT:24 of the Founding Fathers had a seminary degree. Guess they were just suckers, too.

    20. Pingback:   More on Obama’s Faith-Based Plans by anatheist.net

    21. Ezra, NJ says:

      I am shocked that the Heritage foundation which promotes our liberty from government intervention would support the expansion of the welfare state and further government encroachment into social matters when it added faith-based institutions to those who make a living off of government handouts. Any church, synagogue or mosque which accepts government handouts deserves what it gets.

      History is replete with good institutions which were destroyed by encroaching government intervention after they started receiving government funds.

      I say. Maintain the faith of faith-based programs by not accepting government funds. The problem is not faith vs. secular … the problem is government vs. private. Let's keep the discussion where it belongs.

    22. Dick, TN says:

      Could be that the entire concept is flawed. As one who prefers minimal government, I dread the idea of government finding yet another avenue to interfere in our lives, particularly hiding behind a charity or faith organization.

    23. William, Indiana says:

      All Obama and the left wants is to discriminate and completely crush those who do believe.

      If people of faith want to accept and respect those who do not follow any form of faith, then the nonbelievers should show some respect in tune. If nonbelievers cannot accept a persons principles based on faith, then why should the faithful continue to tolerate the double standard. It goes both ways.

    24. Allan. VA says:

      Faith based initiatives do not discriminate against atheists. They welcome all well meaning people to join the effort. They use all volunteers who are capable and who have skills that are applicable to the needs. There may be some exceptions, as evidenced by the hate-filled comments by some of the previous comments.

      Government should invest in local community service groups, in other service organizations and in religious based organizations to multiply the investment with the inevitable local contributions in personal service and in monetary contributions.

      When the government's hand is directly on a project, it is inherently inefficient. Local application of limited government funds is minimal when compared to local contributions.


    25. Lonna, Missouri says:

      Organized religion has discriminated against people of different beliefs since the beginning of time. Why do you think religious idealism is at the heart of most wars? And I'm fine if the president wants to give charity monies to organized religion, but he'd better include islams, druids, pagans, wiccans, and every single fringe group out there including those that believe in plural marriage. It will be fun to watch this entire issue melt down faster than chernyobl. Fun stuff ahead of us, eh America?

    26. Terrance, Richmond, says:

      Here's the problem folks. The atheists are not interested in helping anyone. They are humanist and, as humanists, they believe that achievement in this life is the only thing for which they can hope. I pity atheists, because they have no real hope. The problem with the plan to give public monies to "Faith-Based Organizations" is not the limitations that would accompany the money. It is that the money is going in the first place. Religion is a lot like a product in the free market; the best ones survive and the not-so-good ones fail. Regardless of whether they survive or fail, the government has a responsibility to avoid any actions which will establish or discriminate against a religion. Obama knows this. He and most of his fellow democrats don't care what the Constitution says. Obama, like Robespierre during the French Revolution (look him up, not a nice guy), is trying to destroy religion. First he will bring it under government control (through funding) and then he will abolish it and set up a false religion in it's place.

      The point is, the restrictions that are tied to the money don't matter. They are moot if the real problem, the money, is corrected.

    27. Colleen, CA says:

      That's why I don't believe in the faith based initiative to begin with. Where government money goes, government control follows! When will we all learn that? More government is not the answer to our problems, compassion is! I am a Christian and a Bush supporter but I think he blew it when he created this because it is at the mercy of whoever is in charge and can be changed at anyone's whim, as we are seeing now, which leaves every organization that took money from this initiative in jeopardy. We need to stand on our own two feet and trust God to provide for our needs, not look to the government to do it!

    28. Rick Sparks says:

      >> Friendly Athiest, and Rick Sparks insist on making snearing comments about the people who practice faith, they will never see the solutions that having faith in God can provide.

      Name ONE "solution" faith provides, Kristina.

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