July 1st, 2008
10:08 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama lays out plan for faith-based groups

Obama is courting evangelical voters.
Obama is courting evangelical voters.

(CNN) - One day after defending his patriotism, Sen. Barack Obama is focusing on faith and religion in Zanesville, Ohio.

According to Obama's campaign, the senator from Illinois will lay out his plan to expand Bush's faith-based programs and establish a new "Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships."

The council will strengthen nonprofit religious and community groups by providing funding and making it easier to "access the information and support they need to run that program," according to prepared remarks released by his campaign.

The reason some groups are under-funded, Obama will say, is often because they do not know how to apply for federal dollars.

We rely too much on conferences in Washington, instead of getting technical assistance to the people who need it on the ground. What this means is that what’s stopping many faith-based groups from helping struggling families is simply a lack of knowledge about how the system works, he will say.

Obama will say that such programs have the ability to help children learn and keep them off the streets and away from crime.

"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," Obama will say, according to the remarks.

He will praise faith-based efforts and proposals by former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and President Bush, but say the current administration’s plan never fulfilled its promise.

Support for social services to the poor and the needy have been consistently underfunded, he will say. Rather than promoting the cause of all faith-based organizations, former officials in the Office have described how it was used to promote partisan interests. As a result, the smaller congregations and community groups that were supposed to be empowered ended up getting short-changed.

The relationship between the White House and grassroots groups "has to be a real partnership - not a photo-op."

Under Obama's proposal, groups accepting federal grant money cannot use the funds "to proselytize to the people you help," and employees cannot be hired or fired on the basis of religion.

Additionally, federal dollars going to places of worship can only be used on secular programs.

"And we'll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work," Obama will say, according to the prepared remarks.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Crush Rush

    Tax all churchs and faith based groups.I see no reason not to.Let them pay their fair share.Not for profit think tanks should be taxed also,they are nothing more than right or left wing propaganda machines.

    July 1, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Rumpusgoopus

    As long as it's only going for secular purposes fine, but I have no idea how that'll be enforced.

    July 1, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Independent for McCain

    I voted for BO in the primary. However, he has switched so many of his positions, that I will vote for McCain. I thought BO was change – I was fooled. My judgment is as good as his is/was. Sorry Hillary. I wish I had voted for you.

    McCAin!

    July 1, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. from the slums of obama's 13th district in chicago

    huh what is he going to call on the advise of like of pastors like Pfleger and Wright when expanding his faith-based programs? lol

    July 1, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Jim

    L you sound more brainwashed by Hannity than you claim Obama to be by his Church, get a clue!

    July 1, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. John, Brooklyn, New York

    And is Obama equally willing to aggressively yank funds from faith-based groups that refuse to provide services to people based on their faith traditions?

    For example, it simply is not appropriate for government funds to go to Catholic family planning programs, since these programs will never include abortion in their counseling curriculum – nor even let their patients know that abortion is an option!! Additionally, can we trust Southern Baptist-sponsored AIDS/HIV programs, considering the denomination's outspoken support for systematicdiscrimination against gay people?

    These groups have a right to have a religius point of view AND they also have a right to provide services based on those beliefs. However, public funds must go to programs that treat citizens with equality and provide them with every legal option available to them.

    There is a reason we have government-run public service programs – they are accountable to the taxpayers – not the pope nor the Southern Baptist Convention executive board.

    July 1, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. Vote Nader

    You can do good without "faith".

    VotePact

    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    July 1, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Rumpusgoopus

    Re: Independent for McCain

    Ha! You're mad at Obama becoming more conservative, so you're going to vote for the more conservative person? Rubbish, you're clearly a Republican posing as a Democrat.

    July 1, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. Rick FL

    I like how Obama speaks in unifying terms when addressing principles & morals, which can be common to everyone regardless of religious affiliation. That shows genuine leadership qualities for president in a country with freedom of religion.

    Obama '08

    July 1, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. puff

    Oh yeah, maybe we should be giving his good reverend some dough too.
    JUST SAY NO DEAL

    July 1, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. David Snyder 4 Obama

    When it comes down to it, all the Federal Government can do is talk and suggest plausible solutions. It boils down to us, in our individual neighborhoods, to take the initiative and make it happen.

    In my opinion, Obama is right on..

    July 1, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Jay

    MOST of these groups are hateful groups. They are against Human Rights? NO Obama..NO!

    July 1, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Marc

    In defense of Clinton Supporter, all Obama said was "we must work together". For what, he does not say other thant to ambiguously say towards the challenges of the 21st century. He enjoys speaking in generalities so you guys can project whatever your desires are, on him.

    July 1, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. California Gold

    This is the same initiative the Bush administration promoted and was slammed for not following through. Sort of like his building that fence at the Mexican/US border to keep out illegal immigrants, then not funding the initiative.

    I see this as what it takes to reach the voters who have become disinterested in politics for a vast variety of reasons. If this helps touch one household or one community, and there is action behind the rhetoric, we might dare to look forward wih hope for something better for us: the citizens.

    Obama is definitely NOT an elitist nor is he out-of-touch with the electorate. On the other hand we have McCain: he's on his way out of the country again; busy campaigning in Columbia and Mexico. Claiming Senator Obama is unpatriotic (since when is any member of Congress unpatriotic?!?) and other blather.

    July 1, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Dave, Illinois

    Interesting "no more republicans":

    So you say this country was founded on seperation of church and state? What jewel of public education did you learn that from? Please, show me that in the Declaration of Independance, the Consitution, etc.

    This is nothing but Obama pandering. His left wing taskmasters would never allow monies to go to faith-based organizations and he knows it. The only way they would allow it is if it would somehow diminish the faith.

    July 1, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. NO Bama!

    Whatever happended to seperation of church and state?

    July 1, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Rob

    stop pandering to these people – tax these groups.Under relgion's banner are a lot of hateful groups

    July 1, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Len in Washington

    Obama has my vote but I don't agree with this position.
    Give credit where it's due, encouragement when they struggle and thanks when they succeed but don't give them Federal Tax Dollars.

    July 1, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Damon

    I'm keeping the faith, and I will be voting for Barack in November.

    July 1, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. Jay

    I thought he was about "Change"? Sounds like Bush to me. I love how he wants to help these groups and give them MY money. These are the same groups that are fighting to keep me from protecting my family and getting married!!

    July 1, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Christian Democrat

    Just Consider this:
    After Hurricane Katrina, more would have been done to help the ravaged communities if Federal resources were channeled through Churches than through FEMA.
    All those that agree say AMEN.

    July 1, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    Oh boy, again hateful-spiteful comments. People against Obama have no substance behind their ignorant statements. Like the comment at the top of this blog from "Hillary Supporter" she says, "what is he saying?"

    Duh...... what Sen. Obama is saying is that ALL faith denominations need to work together, that would really help. As a volunteer at St. Vincent De Paul, I know that if all of us, Christians, Jews & Muslims would work together in our effort to help the needy we could really get a lot done. Sen. Obama's message is about unity....... setting ASIDE EGOS, partisanship and working TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF OUR NATION.

    To all you McCain supporters: how about war with Iran? What about the $10 TRILLION IN NATIONAL DEBT, THANKS TO BUSH? WHO WILL PAY FOR MORE WAR?

    ISN'T $1.38 BILLION A DAY SPENT IN IRAQ ENOUGH? HOW CAN ANYONE SUPPORT MCCAIN WHEN HE WANTS TO CONTINUE TO FAILED POLICIES OF BUSH?

    ISN'T $650 BILLION SPENT TO DATE ON THE WAR WITH IRAQ ENOUGH?

    CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT OUR NATION CAN DO WITH $650 BILLION? WE COULD GIVE ALL AMERICANS HEALTHCARE, SENIOR CITIZENS WOULD HAVE THEIR MEDICATION AND CARE PAID FOR; OUR CHILDREN WOULD HAVE TOP-NOTCH SCHOOLS; WE COULD SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY FOR ALL THOSE BABY-BOOMERS WHO ARE NOT PREPARED FOR RETIREMENT! ETC.,

    IF YOU WANT MORE OF THE SAME........ VOTE MCCAIN!

    July 1, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. isaiah

    i didnt agree with this office when bush implemented it, and i dont agree with it now. I am a religious man, but the existance of this office inside the white house is a violation of the seperation of church and state.

    July 1, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. DT

    He's right. The churches are already on the ground, where the people are–let's help them, help the people.

    July 1, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    I think this is great, this is what we need in Indy.
    I like it.

    July 1, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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