Obama isn't making friends with the extremists elements of the evangelical community with his plan to expand funding of faith-based initiatives and prevent organizations that receive that funding from discriminating:
"For those of who us who believe in protecting the integrity of our religious institutions, this is a fundamental right," said Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. "He's rolling back the Bush protections. That's extremely disappointing."
Early in his first term, Mr. Bush issued executive orders expressly allowing religion-based groups receiving federal money to consider religion in their employment decisions, although confusion often remains in this area because of conflicting federal, state and local laws.
Funny that the NAE is talked about protecting the integrity of their institutions considering their former president....
Of course, this isn't what they want, to be forced to act like generally decent human beings to receive funding. And they know that they don't have to change any of their hiring practices if they just don't get any of that money.
But that's not what it's about - they just want money to proselytize. They want to save souls, not lives, these extremists, so they're not going to be happy with being told that they're expected to use the money responsibly.
In fact, the SBC is saying pretty much that:
Martha Minnow, a professor of law at Harvard University who has written about religion-based initiatives and has advised the Obama campaign on the issue, said Mr. Obama would move to "return the law to what it was before the current administration," in other words barring the consideration of religion in hiring decisions for such programs that receive federal financing.
"I don't think there's anything too controversial about that," Minnow said. "Any religious organization that does not want to comply with that requirement simply doesn't have to take the money."
But evangelical leaders said not allowing religious groups to hire based on their beliefs would strip them of the very basis for religion-based programs.
"If you can't hire people within your faith community, then you've lost the distinctive that is the reason why faith-based programs exist in the first place," said Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
I thought the point was to help people. I guess I just don't share Mr. Land's charitable philosophy.
Either way, these programs work not just to get moderate evangelical votes, they also help people that otherwise don't get help. I don't really see how people who don't have a problem with secular nonprofits receiving grant money to do this work can have a problem with religious nonprofits receiving it to do the exact same work.
But he's not going to get the fundamentalist vote with this or anything else. There's no way those sorts aren't going to back the GOP nominee or complain that he isn't far right enough - their raison d'être is to push conservative ideology on all fronts, including foreign policy and economics. They know what they're doing, and they just use laws like this to fund their other missions that have more to do with themselves than others.
If the safeguards are enforced, though, they'd actually have to use the money to help people, and people in the higher echelons of conservative Christianity just aren't about that.
Not that they are really important, since this money isn't meant for them at all. It's meant to help the poor and disadvantaged.