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. Nia - Phoenix, AZ

    I think it's a good idea to not only provide publically but also to reach out to religious organizations in areas hit hardest. Right now they are struggeling to help people who need it the most. i just hope that unlike Bushes plan these religious organizations aren't forced to be apart of that particular religion etc.

    July 1, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. what?


    July 1, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Martin

    Welcome to the Obama Theocracy.

    To heck with the constitution, Obama says.

    To heck with the separation of Church and State.

    July 1, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Jody

    Obama courting religious evangelicals and now promoting more of Bush's faith-based initiatives makes me very nervous.

    Obama is blurring the lines between government and religion moreso than many Republicans. Is he really going to be able to do anything to secure a woman's right to choose and equal rights for all Americans, gay and straight, with all he is going to owe to Christian evangelicals?

    Some group is going to get sold down the river in his administration – progressives or evangelicals. You can't please them both. I wonder which group it will be? Hmmm...

    July 1, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. wiser

    Just what we needed a Democrat like Bush!

    This is what politicians do when they don’t have good ideas to help the US with its problems.

    Democrats for McCain! A real leader with character and experience!

    July 1, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. troy

    Isn't this forcing people who have no religious affiliation to pay tithes?

    July 1, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Jan

    If this man is elected, think of how trinity church and Mr Wright will benefit–they will be paid to destroy America!

    July 1, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. bd

    The Obama sheep are amazing and arrogant. If this would have been a GOP member... its unconstitutional. Amazing... the arrogance is thick in this group.

    July 1, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Phil in KC

    I am an Obama supporter, but I disagree with him on this one. Not one cent of public money to religion-based organizations. I have nothing against them and they do good work, but that is tantamount to government backing of a specific religion. It flies in the face of separation of church and state – one of the founding principals of our country.
    All he's doing is pandering to the so-called "Christian Coalition" for votes. I'm very disappointed.

    July 1, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Lisa

    Not one dime of my taxpayer money should be going to any faith based group. I, as an individual American citizen, allocate charitable funds as I see appropriate, to groups based on their works. Sometime an organization may be faith based, some time not.

    Separation of church and state MUST be an absolute. Period. No taxpayer money funneled through religious groups, EVER. PERIOD. EVER.

    July 1, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. Jai in PA

    I disagreed with it when Bush proposed it and I disagree now. The general concept is fine, but implementation is a problem. It is a slipery slope that will end up discriminating against certain religions. I am still supporting the candidate, but I hope he will rethink his position on this matter.

    July 1, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. demwit

    Oh...., faith based groups like the one Reverend Jeremiah Wright is controlling in Chicago...

    July 1, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. DJ, LA, CA

    Makes sense...there's a lof of great things faith-based or religious groups can do for their communities. Obama is smart to embrace them and try to win them over from the GOP.

    July 1, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |

    Pander... Pander....

    I think Obama already knows how to get federal money to the churches... Ask Rev Pfueger... He got an earmark...

    I don't understand why Trinity has not lost its tax exempt status yet for allowing pastors to preach politics at church... The only place Obama gets more more positive coverage than Trinity is on CNN and MSNBC.

    Still for Hill, but voting McCain

    July 1, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. David Illinois

    Great idea. As he panders to the religious right in this country. Yeah, Let's give some money to the likes of Rev. Wright....remember him the racist who was Obama minister for what was it 20 years....and he never heard a sermon based on race?????Please.
    This man is such a liar and pandering pol. Make more room under the bus it is going to get crowed down there when this guy is done with it all. PUMA? you bet.

    July 1, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. People come on

    strangely people don't know how to read and always screws up information when it's right there in your face. READ PEOPLE READ!!!!!! on one blog they said that obama will have this put in place so that they can hire and fire based on religion which is what he DOESN'T want to happen. he wants the communities around to get involed and the gov. can fund it why not helping out never hurt anyone it would be better maybe we could make our home better and next the world. who knows. but as a positive person this might make some negative people angry. get over yourselves let's move this thing forward please?

    July 1, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. The Voice

    Faith based initiatives is a complete scam! It started by Bush! this program was created for religion to infiltrate the goverment and now it's impacting politicial decision making.

    We are using tax dollar funds for people pretending to provide public services, they are just cashing the checks just AFDC, Unemployment, Workmans comp etc., this is just another way to scam the goverment.

    I would of thought Obama would destroy this so called program, this a flaut out political move to win the evangelical vote!

    July 1, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Rob indetroit


    July 1, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Alex

    people, US is a very religious country. I am not, but when he talks about this... it brings positive views...however this type of talk conservatives hate..conservates don't like to help out the homeless and the poor,

    July 1, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. mg

    This seems like an end around for this marxist to begin government control of religion. The silliest rumor out there is that he is a muslim. Ridiculous, he is an ardent radical marxist like Stanley, his mother. Marxist believe in the power of government and the uselessness of religions in general.

    July 1, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. It takes sound judgement, not experience

    Obama could walk on water, feed the hungry, obtain world peace, make us all rich and some of you would still hate him. Get over yourselves and open your heart to another emotion besides hate. You might actually be happy for a change.

    July 1, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. David Illinois

    To Jay- get used to it buddy. The man will show so many sides by the time this election is over.....Are you all starting to see him for what he is? Just another same old chicago Pol ....He sold you a bill of goods. The sad thing is so many in the Democratic party are still buying it. Premature grab for power. Nothing more. When will he start voting "Present" again....just so he doesn't have to take a stand. Oh, he has started doing that already. My mistake. Drink the Kool Aid kiddies. You have been taken in by a huckster pure and simple.

    July 1, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Chipster

    If Sen. Obama supports federal funding, while allowing religious discrimination in hiring practices, he will immediately lose my support.

    I will never, ever vote for Sen. McCain but there's no point in voting for someone who approves of discrimination in any form and I certainly don't want my taxes used to support such vile policies.

    July 1, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Tim Hutchins

    Why is this such a great idea now that Obama is saying it, but it was criminal and nasty when President Bush put it into action?

    July 1, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Pat in Cali

    The hiring or not hiring based on religious belief makes sense for the non-Federally funded activities.

    You would not hire a rabbi to lead as a Baptist preacher. That would make an interesting employment discrimination law suit.

    July 1, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7