Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama Expanding Faith-Based Influence

Barack Obama will reportedly announce the creation of the President's Advisory Council on Faith during a prayer breakfast with various church leaders in the White House this Thursday. Why prayers are so often relegated to breakfasts is anyone's guess, but we do have some idea of what this council will do. Unlike George W. Bush's faith-based initiatives, which sought mostly to funnel federal money into religious charities and social programs, Obama will use the council as a sounding board for policy issues he feels could benefit from faith-based input. While it might seem like Obama is chipping away at the wall between church and state that Bush so clumsily crashed through, this is actually a much smarter policy. (Surprise.) Instead of just throwing cash at church groups, Obama will instead seek the advice of church leaders in matters of healthcare and outreach to the poor--areas where faith-based charities have valuable experience. Look, it would be wonderful if there was a huge infrastructure of secular charities that did as much humanitarian work as religious ones, but that just isn't the case. To take Hurricane Katrina as just one example, faith-based relief efforts were some of the first on the scene, as well as some of the most effective. These people have money and motivation, and a lot of them know what they're doing. It's just a shame that so many of them choose to couch their efforts in superstitious nonsense. In other words, this is another smart move from the Obama administration. Now if only they could get a clue about throwing trillions of dollars the U.S. government doesn't have at an economic problem only made worse by the fact that the U.S. is in the hole for trillions of dollars... More details here.

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