Friday, February 06, 2009

Obama Expands "Faith-Based" Programs

President Obama has expanded the faith-based office Bush made into the evangelical wing of the White House, even though he criticized Bush's programs while on the campaign trail. He says it's going to be more fair and not discriminatory, and there is an openly gay person on the 25 member panel. But that is all window dressing: This program, which allowed people to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs, should have been abolished. By keeping it in place -- and expanding it -- he allows the next president to even further blur the separation between church and state even if he doesn't:

The decision angered Democrats and civil libertarians who thought Obama had agreed with their view that Bush's 2002 executive order went too far.

"Based on what he said, we thought the issue had been resolved," said U.S. Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-Va.).

"You'll have to ask them why they think it's all right to discriminate," Scott said. He added that administration officials are "either offended by the idea of discrimination or they're not."

But Thursday's announcement surprised and pleased some religious leaders, particularly religious conservatives, who had a strong ally in Bush and had been pressing the new Democratic president to revoke his earlier promise.