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Obama’s Faith Office Met with Alarm & Questions

February 5th, 2009 · 6 Comments

faith & community 

Fresh out of the box, Obama’s new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is already taking whacks at the hornet’s nest. The big issue: Religious organizations that accept federal funding will have to expand their hiring to include those outside of their faith. Some clergy “get it” and are either going to find ways to comfortably comply, or make new arrangemements to stop taking federal funding. Others, however, are worried.

Under the Civil Rights act of 1964, faith-based organizations have a right to discriminate in hiring with respect to religion. Many of these organizations argue they risk losing their fundamental identity if the government forces them to hire individuals outside their faith (I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick of that word, “fundamental”).

“To us, it’s not a matter of discrimination, it’s a matter of our faith ethos,” said Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “What they are telling us is to negate who we are in order to acquire federal grants. … That’s just unacceptable.”

I’m grateful that the LDS church isn’t in that boat. Although, who knows how else this new “faith office” could affect our organization? It’s not as if we have a voice there.

As of this writing the members of the council include: the Rev. Joel Hunter, the Rev. Frank Page (former president of the Southern Baptist Convention), the Rev. Jim Wallis; Judith Vredenburgh, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities; the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., recently senior pastor emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland; Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago; Fred Davie, president of Public/Private Ventures; the Rev. William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention; Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University; Arturo Chavez, president of the Mexican American Culture Center in Austin; Diane Baillargeon, president of the Seedco in New York City; Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and Richard Stearns, president of World Vision.

Apparently Obama isn’t done with the list, though, so hopefully at least one person who represents our interests will make it in.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tanya // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    It is really too bad that the one thing that this country was built on, Freedom of Religion is being so viciously attacked by those who find religion to be a thing of the past or a tradition that has been found to have faults in today’s world

  • 2 David // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Amen to that, Tanya. I keep going back to Maxwell’s talk about the Secular Church.

    It would be better for the other faiths, though, to try to cut off any subsidies from the government, or they’re going to just feel the noose get tighter and tighter, with lawsuits, investigations and penalties.

  • 3 Karron // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Sigh . . .. it just keeps getting worse and worse under the rule of King O and his court jesters in congress.

  • 4 cheryl // Feb 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Makes me glad we have a Church with Seers. People question why our organization does things the way it does things, but then…voila! Prophecies (vocal or not) come true.

    And “they” thing “we’re” nuts.

  • 5 cheryl // Feb 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I meant “think” not “thing”.


  • 6 queuno // Feb 9, 2009 at 2:09 am

    I don’t have a dog in the fight per se, except that I’m glad the Church isn’t taking any of money.

    If you’re going to take Caesar’s money, you’re going to play by Caesar’s rules…

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