Surprise, surprise! After much heavy criticism of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, the media is giving Obama’s equivalent faith-based office a free pass — meaning little coverage and less criticism. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway has the scoop in this Wall Street Journal op-ed: Faith-Based Double Standards.
Here’s the worst part:
This scant media attention is all the more incredible given that, as Americans United for Separation of Church and State has noted, Mr. Obama has left “the entire architecture of the Bush Faith-Based Initiative intact—every rule, every regulation, every executive order.” More controversially, the office has become a major hub of political outreach. In frequent conference calls, the administration informs faith-based leaders of its policy initiatives, as when it recently asked rabbis around the country to give sermons on health-care reform during the coming high holiday season. Representatives from politically important religious groups have been appointed to a 25-member religious advisory council. The office was also involved in drafting President Obama’s June speech delivered from Cairo calling for alliances with Muslims.
I was dismayed to read about the willingness of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to play Obama’s game:
Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was a vocal critic of Mr. Bush’s faith-based office. Now, under Mr. Obama, he serves on the advisory council’s task force to improve the functioning of the office. Explaining his turnaround, he said he doesn’t view Mr. Obama’s office as partisan—the way Mr. Bush’s was. But acknowledging that there was no substantive difference between the offices yet, Mr. Lynn said: “We have a guarded optimism that when the advisory council, Justice and the White House act and get down to the nitty gritty, they will make this a constitutionally protected program. However, we have no proof of that and no guarantee.”
I am not satisfied with AU’s response here. Hence, although I’ve contributed to them in the past, they won’t get another cent from me.