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. Peter E

    Gasp... a ticker talking about an actual issue? Unheard of!

    July 1, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    Just because the Bush administration is a failure, does not mean that everything they have ever done is a failure.

    I commend Senator Obama for continuing to support faith-based groups helping people in their own communities. Even those not religiously inclined might have eyes to see that a large portion of the good being done to help the homeless, feed the hungry, house pregnant women who choose to have their children, building playgrounds, providing childcare and after-school programs, ministering to AIDS patients, etc. are staffed by those in faith-based organizations.

    We just have to be careful to make sure that services do not exclude ANYONE on the basis of race, religion, gender or orientation if they are to receive federal funds. And religious organizations have the right to opt out of funding if they feel that they must water down their beliefs to be beholden to the government. A win-win situation.

    July 1, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Tina, NC

    Christian Democrat,


    July 1, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Marilyn

    NO tax dollars should EVER support any religious organization. Period. If churches and church affiliated groups want government money, then they should pay taxes like the rest of us!

    July 1, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Peter E

    Laughing my head off! When Bush started public support of religious groups that do charity work the left went into overdrive criticizing him for imposing a religious dogma. Now that Obama wants to give taxpayer dollars to religious groups you think he's being smart about it? Obama even admits he's just following in the footsteps and completing the work that Clinton and Bush started, doing precisely what his predecessors did. And he even says that what was wrong is that these programs were underfunded. He wants to EXPAND this program, give it MORE taxpayer money than Bush has. Where is the left's criticism now?
    Blind-sight is 0/0...

    July 1, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. Peter E

    So, when Bush gives taxpayer money to religious groups for charitable community work it's 'an erosion of the separation of church and state.' But when Obama does exactly the same thing (even wanting to increase funds, apparently) he's just being good-willed?
    Double-standards: the war-cry of the knee-jerk demopublican/repucratic voters. They think that replacing the name and the letter after the name will bring change...

    July 1, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Good idea Obama! This is the type of president you get when the experience ranges from community organizing to civil rights law to constitutional law to politician as opposed from military aviator to politician!

    Rock On Obama!

    July 1, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. aware

    Pander plus!

    Put your toothy grin back in your pocket Obama. A universalist with no moral center has nothing credible to say to evangelicals! 🙁

    July 1, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. proud army and navy mom

    thank you senator obama, you can show bush and his war criminal partners, how to run the faith-based initiative and not just talk about. I love this guy, he is soooooo smart. it's quite refreshing after 8 years of illiterate bush

    July 1, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Rena

    Well if any of you are true Christians then you would know that Jesus, commanded us as believers to feed the poor, tend to the sick, and visit the prisons, etc. So, he is right. We as the church should be doing these things and not the government. The problem Obama will have with this is that the churches today have become so money hungry they have forgotten what their real purpose is. It's not about building big churches and growing large congregations. That's why they can't meet the need of the people because they are too busy building elaborate buildings and putting the money in their own pockets. If he can first address those issues then he will be able to get the church to do what is was originally intended for.

    Now let the church say AMEN!!!

    July 1, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. john williams san diego, ca.

    all these pro Obama groups are under funded because they don't know how to apply for federal funding? Taxpayers get ready for a big Change, socialism is on the way.

    July 1, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. to R.I.F.

    you are totally right!!!!!!!

    obama '08

    July 1, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Val

    I can't stand Obama – he makes me sick to my stomach! He now attacks MoveOn.org when he needs conservative vote, oh please. Where was he last year when this despicable organization ran that ad? People, BEWARE – Obama is a very dangerous man. He doesn't care about anyone, but himself. Let me spell it for you: E-L-I-T-I-S-T. Oh, and I forgot to mention that he is a socialist also.

    July 1, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. skunkrat The Marine

    Sen. Obama, I support you but, the moment sense that you are trying to merge religion & Government is when I will not vote for you. Your obsession with faith is beginning to sound like that of GEORGE BUSH.

    July 1, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. skunkrat The Marine

    I have made a decision, since you are attempting to enrich a bunch of greedy preacher in return for their support, I will NOT VOTE FOR YOU. I will simply stay home you are a phony. Sen. Obama you are not about change, you are about getting elected.

    July 1, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. Texas Hill Country

    How many positions could he possibly flip flop on and how many core Democratic principles and people could he possibly throw under the bus?

    Just Say No Deal.

    A Proud Capital Hill Forum PUMA member.

    July 1, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Anthony

    The so-called clinton supporters on this thread ( called Pumas) are in reality all republican trolls. See the article in Politico .com. Do not believe the hype!! They are garbage.

    Obama supporters: Unite and face the enemy, the forces of darkness, the supporters of Bush-Mccain.

    July 1, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Shelly in IL

    Keep faith out of politics. Not everyone is a believer in those things. All you need to do is the job and do it well.

    July 1, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. K

    "Cybercast News cites a report from the secretary of the Senate which says women working in Obama's Senate office were paid, on average, about $6,000 less than men. And, of the five people in Obama's office who earn more than $100,000 a year, only one is a woman.

    But in John McCain's Senate office, the average pay for women is $2,500 more than men."

    Wow, how about that "sweetie."

    July 1, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Lim

    NObama's new campaign slogan: YES, WE SCAM!

    July 1, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. Lisa Que


    Who does this man think that he's fooling??

    PUMA (PAC)

    July 1, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. Belle2

    What is this? Obama's version of a million points of light.

    July 1, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Glenn

    CNN posted another photo op with McCain not wearing the American flag lapel pin(see CNN article: "In challenge to McCain, majority against free trade). This is a obviouis example of McCain's unAmerican views, lack of American patriotism, probably communistic and atheist beliefs and behaviors. Thanks CNN for capturing this "proof." But what's up with so-called patriotic policemen, Limp Bushbaugh and Karl Rove? They who have so gallantly brought attention of Obama not wearing a flag pin and yet they have not roasted McCain. What's up with this? What wrong with this picture? Where is the love for our country going? Down the tubes? The shame! The shame!

    PS They recently showed a video of the porker, Limpbaugh, ranting on his own radio show and he was not wearing an American flag. What's up with this? Limpbaugh is another one of those GOP ex-druggies. Where were his morals when he did the liberal fantasy tripping?

    July 1, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    Well the flower has fallen off the plant!!
    Routing federal program money to faith based organizations and allowing hiring/ firing to some extent for these groups flies in the face of where the secular aspect of government should move!!
    AS an educated man, I cannot believe, save to kowtow to religious groups, how Obama could find merit in such an exercise. Let such groups fleece their own flocks and use it in their own misguided way to alleviate the world's problems!!
    Obama, you slipped on this banana peel for sure!!

    July 1, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Annoyed by Idiocy

    to Dave, Illinois:

    It's called the First Amendment. You know, the one that states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The Supreme Court has since expounded upon the principle in Everson v. Board of Education and Engel v. Vitale. I learned that in a public school. But go ahead, keep acting as if you know what you are talking about.

    July 1, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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