TIA - Obama's Faith-Based Plan an Improvement, but...

Further Safeguards are Needed to Protect Constitutional Boundaries

Washington, DC – Today the Interfaith Alliance praised Senator Barack Obama for his plan to scrap the Bush Administration’s faith-based initiative, but urged the presumptive Democratic candidate for the presidency to include stronger constitutional safeguards in his new faith-based plan.

“I agree with Senator Obama that the Bush Administration’s faith-based initiative has been a colossal failure. I hope President Bush’s executive orders related to the faith-based initiative are repealed on the next president’s first day in office,” said Rev. Gaddy.

Unlike President Bush’s faith-based program, Senator Obama’s plan would require that religious charities obey Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in hiring charity staff. However, Senator Obama’s plan would still allow direct government funding of religious institutions, while the Interfaith Alliance would prefer religious institutions establish separate 501(c)(3) organizations to handle government grants. Our proposal keeps the government out of the business of investigating the internal affairs of houses of worship..

“To uphold the Constitution’s boundaries between religion and government, faith-based charities must obey much stronger safeguards. Senator Obama’s plan is a step in the right direction, though I would like him to go further,” said Rev. Gaddy.

In 2006 former White House Faith-Based Office staffer David Kuo wrote a tell-all book, which documented how the Bush Administration would funnel money to fly-by-night charities on the Religious Right, while more established, secular charities were left out. That policy, Kuo admits, was designed to win votes for President Bush and other Republican candidates.

“It is time to close the Pandora’s Box opened by the Clinton Administration and exploited by the Bush Administration. No future president should turn religious groups into political pawns in order to advance their own partisan ambitions,” said Rev. Gaddy.

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The Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, The Interfaith Alliance has 185,000 members across the country from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org