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Obama’s faith-based office kept discriminatory policies that Bush started

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So, the right-wing religious fundamentalists are quite happy with Obama's faith-based initiative, which allows discrimination. Excellent reporting from Kerry Eleveld:

When candidate Barack Obama laid out his plan on the campaign trail to revise the White House faith-based initiative established under President George W. Bush, he drew a line in the sand.

“If you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them - or against the people you hire - on the basis of their religion,” Obama told a Zanesville, Ohio, crowd over three years ago on July 1, 2008.

It appeared to mark a departure from a series of Bush executive orders in 2001 and 2002 that established faith-based offices in the White House and major federal agencies and forged the way for sectarian organizations to practice religious discrimination in their hiring practices even if they were receiving taxpayer dollars from the federal government. And according to Bush White House officials, the administration poured about $10.6 billion into faith-based organizations including groups like World Vision, a “Christian humanitarian organization” that has received hundreds of millions of dollars in support from the U.S. government but also openly discriminates against religious minorities in its hiring.

But when President Obama was asked about his Zanesville commitment during a Maryland Town Hall last Friday, he could not affirmatively tell the questioner that he had ended the practice of allowing religious organizations that receive government money to discriminate in hiring. That’s because when Obama issued an executive order in 2009 creating his version of White House faith-based office, the order did nothing to reverse the policy codified by Bush.

In answering the question, Obama acknowledged that there are certain situations where the government does permit religious organizations to discriminate in their hiring -- even for positions financed by taxpayer dollars. He also said that some religious groups believe the administration has been too restrictive in this area while others believe it isn’t restrictive enough.

“I think we've struck the right balance so far,”Obama offered, “but this is something we continue to be in dialogue with faith-based organizations about to try to make sure that their hiring practices are as open and inclusive as possible.”

In fact, a coalition comprised largely of conservative religious groups is quite pleased with the administration’s approach and sent a laudatory letter to President Obama this month stating, “We commend you and your Administration for maintaining current federal law and policy…” Meanwhile, progressive organizations delivered their own letter to the president just last month urging him to “restore key civil rights protections” that were rolled back by President Bush.
This is egregious. Read the entire article. It's offensive. Now, I suspect we'll hear from the usual apologists that we got DADT repealed, so we shouldn't complain or ask questions. But, this policy affects a broad swath of the progressive movement, not just the LGBT community.

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