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

Obama lays out plan for faith-based groups

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/01/art.obama.wv.ap.jpg caption="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. Belle2

    Once again, Obama opened his mouth and nothing came out. We all need to work together-how is he intending to bring this about? What will he do? Will he legislate (instead of sitting quietly in Congress)? or Will he vote for someone else's bill (vote Present or be AWOL when the bill is voted). He would have to take a stand if he actually voted on a bill and he couldn't castigate others who voted (took a stand). He believes nothing; he stands for nothing; just one big bag of wind.

    July 1, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Winkzilla, Tucson

    We cannot trample our separation of church and state. The whole idea of church organizations is that they are supported and sustained by their members. This protects smaller religious organizations against larger religious group domination. To take tax dollars and give it to religious groups is the same as subsidizing corporations as if they are independent to the free market. If they cannot stand on their own donations, then you are subsidizing particular ideologies. You are giving bonus power to particular groups. This was in part why we had the Revolutionary War to separate from England. This is a bad idea.

    People always badmouth government organizations. The fact is that some have been good and some have been bad. Until our government acts according to the needs of its people, bad government organization will continue to exist. The problem we should solve is this, and not give money to holders of ideology that in turns gives them unfair advantage of power over others, rather fix our government and make it work as our founding fathers had intended.

    July 1, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. @HusseinIsAmerican2

    Obama is forward looking and that's what I need in a president!

    judgement that can lead us in a new direction...to save our economy, gas prices, mortgage crisis, Iraq and bring our jobs back from India & China!

    John McShame wants to contine continue the policies of George Bush. NEVER. NOT AGAIN.


    July 1, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Ilona Hussein, Proud Canadian!

    Independent woman for Obama!

    Thank you for your SANE COMMENT!

    To all of the REPUBLICANS IN DEMOCRATS CLOTHING, who are posting above! We are on to you!


    Have you folks been following the CONTROVERSY about McCain's Naval Records? THIS MAN IS GETTING SUCH A FREEE RIDE FROM THE PRESS AND ELSEWHERE!

    Please........google......McCain's naval records.....There are numerous articles about the lack of transparency, numerous pages missing from his records.

    I find this one VERY INTERESTING..........Crooks and Liars > McCain's
    Secrecy over Navy Records...

    Check it out for yourselves!!!!!!!! I hope and pray that you guys wake up before it is too late! John McCain will make an absolutely terrible President.

    July 1, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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