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. ErikS.

    Wow. Bush pushes thgis, it defiles the Constution. Obama backs it and it's a good idea? Do you people even know what you want?

    July 1, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. case

    Obama, is attempting to awaken the sleeping giant..the religious left long ignored by the right and marginalized by the left..

    side note.. another reason why Tim Kaine of VA should/will be his running mate.

    July 1, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Roberta, NC

    His pandering makes me want to throw-UP!

    July 1, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Vig

    I would really like to know who is "laying out" all of Obama's new found "plans" "major speeches" "policies" – all of a sudden this junior senator is full of ideas – mostly he's full of bull.

    July 1, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. LaShanda

    These groups have helped in New York City. The money cannot be used to push a religious agenda, only to help a cause.

    July 1, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Francisco in NY

    What a man ! So intelligent – can't wait until he's president.

    OH WAIT – I'm not a Bama lemming. Get a grip people, why is Bama now espousing republican ideals ?!!? Who is this guy and what does he stand for ? The flavor of the day?

    Keep the State out of Church !! Of course this is a guy who is so deeply entwined in that Pfleger/Wright church of his who knows what will happen if this guy gets in the office. SCARY !!!!

    July 1, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Patriot

    This is a great idea.

    If legally operating Americans feel an obligation to volunteer and efficiently help other Americans in need, then it makes sense that the government could fund the efforts.

    July 1, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. Chris

    As long as there's no proselytization, I'm fine... but that would be tough to monitor.

    July 1, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. Tanya

    Well, Obama always said he is for "change". Now we know it is just a change of names.

    July 1, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Chris, IL

    It's difficult to imagine the logistics here. How can a faith-based organization have two sets of rules for employees that are paid by tax money and those that are not? Does this mean that these organizations then have to track two sets of books, two sets of employment policies, etc?

    This is sounding like red tape.

    July 1, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. Don Colony14Author, Mt Prospect, IL

    Oh, great, yet another government program with little oversight that will cost the taxpayers a fortune and waste tens of millions of dollars.

    Don't get me wrong – I think churches and other non-profit organizations are great for caring for the needs of the poor and helping the downtrodden. But it should be done with private donations, because that ensures aoutomatic oversight. (Many people donate to the Salvation Army, for example, because they understand it has low overhead and a greater percentage of its donations go to help people dircetly.)

    In fact, the federal governnment should get COMPLETELY out of the "helping-people business," and do only what it is supposed to do under the United States Constitution: protect the individual liberties of American citizens. Sixty years of welfare programs have done nothing but make generations of Americans dependent on public programs – programs that exist more to provide non-productive jobs for donators to political campaigns than anything else.

    Vote for the Libertarians, not for socialist candidates or a "democrat-lite" candidates.

    July 1, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Aaron Williams

    You know who the first group both candidates spoke to after the primaries? AIPAC the most powerful lobby in the U.S. Zionism a radical branch of Judaism and the far right Evangelicals are condoning and actively funding genocide and crimes against humanity. You want to end the War on Terror. Demand Israel ends the illegal thirty year, military occupation of the Palestinian people. You can't pick and choose which tyrants to pick on. Iran is six years from a nuclear program, Israel has had a nuclear arsenal for fifteen years and has threatened to use them on numerous occasions. They have never signed a nuclear treaty and should be sanctioned and embargoed. Don't peg me an anti-semite either, I have hebrew blood in my veins. Israel is a military dictatorship, Judaism is a religion. You can criticize one without defaming the other. This is about human rights, which supersedes, rhetoric and dogma.

    July 1, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. sue

    Come on people! All kinds of religious groups have been getting money from the government for decades. This is truly just an attempt to streamline and better document what is going to whom in a straight forward, open manor. The way it has been done before is through those so called Pork Barrel projects and the like.

    July 1, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |


    July 1, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Clinton, no, wait, McCain Supporter

    Golly, Literacy is for Loosers, if there's one I don't want to do, it's look bad to Obama cult members! I'll definitely try to clean up my act.

    You are just full of good advice. Here's some for you: lighten up; you'll live longer.

    July 1, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. This guy will do whatever it takes to be elected...

    Why we don't have a single decent person as a candidate?

    July 1, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Javone

    To all those who say that religion has no place in goverment:
    as quiet as it's kept...religion is very much a part of government. why else would we always have to worry about ome supreme court justice coming along and overturning Roe v.wade? I was raised during the time that there was prayer included at school events. It is NO accident that it was during those times that crime was low...people were not afraid to leave home or come home at night.

    July 1, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Tracie, MO

    Sounds like a plan. I trusted Barack with my campaign dollars and he used the money wisely. His camp is NOT in debt. I can now trust him in leading faith based initiatives.

    Obama is my next president and I'm supporting him all the way.

    July 1, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Ugo

    Hehehehe! Clinton Supportor (or undercover Right-wing nut). That's a good one. You gave me the best laugh of the day. Really are you serious?

    July 1, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Mary

    I agree that church and state should be seperated, but he's talking about having churches to vy for money that other non-profits are getting. I don't see anything wrong with that–they'll have to do the same 30 pages of applications that every other group has to do. If they don't get it, they don't get it.

    July 1, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Connie

    I'm not so sure about this Barack, I don't believe in mixing church and state.

    Obama needs to explain this more before I'm onboard with this. I didn't like it with Bush, and I'm not comfortable with it now.

    July 1, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. Obama/Hillary 08

    I wonder if Joe Liberman is the one that is going to launches the new terror attack. Please stop scaring people for political reason. America, it is not true no terror attack in 2009. If there is one Joe Lieberman and the Republican Party is behind it.

    July 1, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Tommy Hussein in St. Louis

    webster208 July 1st, 2008 12:43 pm ET

    This is what you get for listening To Rev. Wright unquestoningly for 20 years.


    Typical fallacy made by people who quake in their boots about Rev. Wright – to think that Rev. Wright spoke that way EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY for 20 years and Obama was there EVERY SINGLE TIME is absolutely ridiculous. You also cannot possibly know to what degree he listened "unquestioningly" – for all you know, he could have been skeptical about everything that came out of Wright's mouth. We know he had other reasons for staying there, including his work as a community organizer.

    For all we know, unless we were there for 20 years too, Wright's controversial comments may well have been limited to those sound bites that were played over and over in the news, and every other Sunday may well have consisted of a typical sermon. I also wouldn't believe for a minute that other pastors such as Hagee make controversial comments every Sunday without exception either. Rev. Wright is a non-issue – a boogeyman for people who are afraid of a minority president with a funny name.

    July 1, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Proud American

    In Obama we trust.

    July 1, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Laurie-SF

    This is disgraceful. Obama morphing into Bush on the issue. Doesn't Obama know that there is a separation between church and state? Is Obama looking to fund the Catholic Church (payback to Fr. Pfleger) and United Trinity? I hope we don't have too many more examples of Obama adopting Bush policies. This is most disturbing.

    July 1, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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