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. Clinton Supporter

    "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."

    What ARE you saying???

    July 1, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Mike

    Obama is right on. Community efforts are much more efficient. All Government does is create beauracracy and flush money down the toilet.

    July 1, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. P, CA

    Good blog post... positive, focusing on issues important to faith-based groups/people, and no instant negative reaction from the Tucker Bounds posse. Right on, CNN.

    Cue the PUMA, NoBama, VotePact, McHillaries, and other anti-Obama threads in 3... 2... 1...


    You guys need to chill out.

    July 1, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Patrick Henry

    This idea stunk when Bush came up with it.
    It still stinks.
    How will compliance with federal regulations be managed? Will that be the responsibility of the "regligious council" or a whole new federal regime? Or will they just wait until a whistle blower steps forward like GWB?

    And how about the theology? Would money go to Islamic groups with strong links with nations on the terrorist list? And what about the folks at Trinity? Would white people want to see their tax dollars sent to a racially biased group?

    This is lame–exactly who is just extended the Bush legacy here?

    Libertarians 2008
    Barr/Root 2008

    The last thing we need is more government meddling in our lives and more tax dollars thrown away with minimal congressional/executive accountability.

    Got Libety? Think again.

    July 1, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. ANGIE

    i agree with obama man this man is really intelligent and he is going to be a great president and i agree P,CA here comes the mccain smear group in 3 2 1 begin

    July 1, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Former Bitter HRC Supporter Coming Around

    There are plenty of Non-faith based programs available that could do the same thing. I disagree with this move – the government should not be providing the church any money. Those are my tax dollars and I'd like to see them go to a charity the represent the population – not just the evangicals.

    And if we are to provide them money, we need to monitor how they are using it. Not that there's corruption with today's religious leaders...

    July 1, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Great idea

    I am a caseworker in Dallas. We, a government agency, work with faith based groups all of the time. I work for the government, but we partner with churches and non-profits to meet our clients needs. It's going on already, so why not make a bigger impact. It works!

    Thank you, Obama!

    July 1, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Former Bitter HRC Supporter Coming Around

    And to all of you hardcore evangicals out there – he supports gay rights. That's right!

    I hope you hate him. I'd like to see you as far away from the government as possible.

    July 1, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Greg, NY

    Wow, "Clinton Supporter" I now realize why you people can't see why Obama is your solution now. You really physically cannot see!

    The answer to your question is in the paragraph you quoted from the article.

    July 1, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. joe in VA

    Wow. Sounds like BHO is using a page from G W Bush's playbook. This was originally a Bush initiative.

    I wonder how that makes teh obamaniacs feel. Will BHO ever come up with anything new himself? I mean, he's got at least 2 years experience with the Federal govt....that's enough isn't it?

    July 1, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Raymond Duke

    Faith based programs should never have been started to begin with. They are nothing but a scam to get federal taxpayer dollars for political support and to let their buddies and supporters steal from the taxpayer. Shut them down. The old we could help, the kids if a parent can't support them , take them away from them, real disabled physically or mentanally take care of them. All them slugs that are healthy, drug addicts, alcholocis or the ones squirting a kid out every year to get a check, let them work or die.

    July 1, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Sam

    "Clinton Supporter", it's obvious that you refuse to listen to anything Obama has to say , because he says it right there in the comment that you copied. You're utterly pathetic !!!

    July 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Faith-based groups may be highly motivated to help those in need, but they must not be allowed to use that opportunity to proselytize if taxpayer dollars are funding their work.

    I understand Obama's affinity for church-based groups, since he was once hired by a group of churches. But when my tax dollars go to help shelter the homeless or feed the hungry, I want the recipient to know that the generosity is that of the American people, not the church.

    July 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    With so much media focus on the negative side of actions attributed to "faith", it is well that Obama reminds us that positively faith based initiatives can impact our society most benefically. Not spin, but making lemonade outta lemons.

    July 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Cody

    I am all for faith-based charities, but publically funding them opens up a lot of church-state separation issues. As an Obama supporter, this disappoints me somewhat. However, I don't think he misrepresented himself on this. Based on his prior speeches, I knew he would probably do this.

    July 1, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Darlington

    Hopefully this euphemizes your pain....

    July 1, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Obama or Bust 2008

    This is an example where I disagree with one of Obama's positions, but am still supporting him. I don't believe religion has any place in government. That doesn't mean I can't support him.

    I hope others feel the same way. So what if there are one or two things you don't agree with? By and large, he is the best man for the job, especially when compared to McCain. Vote wisely.

    July 1, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Cincinnati girl

    Given Obama's history as a community organizer, he has some great insight into how, when working properly, faith-based organizations do great outreach work to build their communities. He has visibility over how these organizations can/should work, their needs, and the impact they have on local communities. Great work for an out of touch elitist, right Sen McCain?

    July 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. RJ, CA

    Now isn't that just too "rich." Bush promised the Evangelicals "faith-based" programs when he ran. In the end, he gave them absolutely NOTHING in that category. Now you'll be "duped" again - but this time by Obama!

    July 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. no more republicans

    Will have to wait and see where Obama is going with this. Separation of State and Churche is one of the foundation of U.S. If we were to go on this path, we cannat discriminate against any religion nor against anyone who do not beleive.

    July 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Michelle

    What did Obama do for his own districts, Chicago neighborhoods?

    He helped the slumlords while his constituents lived in deplorable conditions.

    Those of us who won't vote for Obama don't hate him. We just don't
    trust him to be president.

    July 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. Theresa

    Why did Senator Obama fail to visit the Central Democratic Leadership Conference, which met in Chicago this past weekend?

    The media reported that he spent the weekend in his hometown, so it would not have been a great hardship for him to make an appearance.

    To me it appears that he wants to not anger his far-left wing base by appearing with the center-right members of his party that he will anger when he is elected to the Presidency.

    I do believe that the Reverencd Jeremiah Wright was correct when he stated that “Senator Obama is a politician and he must say and do things that will get him elected.”

    July 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    To disagree with one is normal, but to use the word hate is puzzling under any circumstances and the only purpose hate serves is ones own self destruction. Raise the bar.

    July 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Veteran in Kansas

    Faith based organization, I have no prblem with faith based organizations they can do lots of good with their own money, from their own members. I do not support governent money being given to faith based organizations. Secular groups only.

    I remeber a time when faith based organizations worked for the betterment of the community because it was the right tihing to do.

    July 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    This man thinks of everything concerning his candidacy that is good! Obama in 2009!

    July 1, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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