Will Obama's Flock Keep the Faith?

To those that have followed Barack Obama’s career, his announcement last week endorsing faith-based initiatives doesn’t come as a surprise.  As a community organizer, Obama frequently solicited help from black churches in Chicago during his get out the vote efforts.  Obama said, “I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household, but my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life… I wouldn’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I went out and did the Lord’s work.”

Obama announced his plan to expand the federal government’s faith-based assistance program to his $500-million-a-year Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  Obama said, “I’m not saying that faith-based groups are an alternative to government or secular nonprofits, and I’m not saying that they’re somehow better at lifting people up.  What I’m saying is that we all have to work together — Christian and Jew, Hindu and Muslim, believer and non-believer alike — to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Most pundits agree that Obama is making his pitch for the white, middle-class voters that supported Hillary Clinton.  However, some of his supporters feel betrayed by his recent announcement supporting faith-based programs.  Among the comments on Obama campaign’s blog:

— “When I saw Barack in Portland he mentioned ELIMINATING funding for faith based initiatives. Now he’s pandering to the Religious Right by talk of EXPANDING them. WHAT GIVES??!!!”

— “This is just pandering to the religious fanatics. I am ashamed to be American when there is no candidate who is willing to stand up for the secular nature of the country.”

— “I am in shock at this horrendous development. The separation of church and state is so basic to what this country is based on that to naively assert that tax funds can be given to religious groups without proselytizing totally confounds me… The hope is gone.”

Obama’s supporters try to ease the fair-weather flock by insisting that he’s just suckering the mushy middle so he can get elected.  One supporter writes, “Can’t you see Barack is trying to win an election?  I understand his strategy if he has to go in the ‘middle’ right now.  He needs to be elected first before he can push a progressive agenda through congress.”

In fact, Obama’s progressive agenda and faith-based programs may be one in the same.  Everyone is familiar with Obama’s church of choice prior to the election, Trinity United Church of Christ.  In June, Fox News reported that the church received more than $15 million in federal grants over the last 15 years.  One of those taxpayer-funded programs is the church’s daycare.  Sweetness & Light blogger Steve Gilbert dug up the Trinity UCC Child Care Center 990 form stating that it provided daycare and three meals per day for 65 pre-school children.  Gross income for Trinity’s daycare was $1,372,959.  That’s $21,122 per child. 

According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the average cost for pre-school in the U.S. is $6,423 per year.  Yet it costs Trinity more than three times the national average.  In larger cities like Chicago and New York pre-school can reach $10,000-$15,000 per year, still well below Trinity’s costs. 

In his book, The Audacity of Hope, and in many speeches, Obama has cited the “great works” of Trinity and credited them with renewing his faith.  When he resigned from the church, he said, “We also don’t want the church subjected to the scrutiny that a presidential campaign legitimately undergoes.”  Despite its fiscal irresponsibility, it’s a safe bet that liberal organizations like the Trinity Church wouldn’t face the same scrutiny from the Obama Administration as crisis pregnancy centers or Catholic soup kitchens. 

Anticipating the reaction from Obama supporters, The Washington Post reported:

But Obama aides said an Obama administration would get tougher on groups that discriminate in hiring practices and assistance. The groups would have to abide by federal hiring laws that reject discrimination based on race, sex, and religion. Obama said he supports federal legislation that would extend those protections to homosexuals as well, a flash point with some religious organizations that maintain hiring or assisting gay people would run counter to their beliefs.

Under the Obama proposal, the groups could use federal funds only to assist anyone in need, not anyone from a certain background or religion.  Nor could federal funds be used to proselytize or spread religious beliefs.

In other words, they’re removing the “faith” from faith-based initiatives.  Under these guidelines, Catholic charities could be exempt from receiving funds because they don’t allow women to be priests.  The Salvation Army could be exempt because they ask people to pray before a meal.  Heck, a Baptist church could be exempt for not hiring atheists.

Despite his flowery rhetoric and the pundits insisting Obama is reaching out to the right, the truth is that his “Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships” is just another taxpayer-funded program to fund the Left’s own interests and fiscally irresponsible programs.