Controversy surrounds Obama's faith office
President Obama's newly revamped Office of Faith Based Initiatives is reigniting a contentious debate across the ideological spectrum over whether religious organizations that accept funds from the government should be allowed to discriminate when hiring.
President Bush was highly
criticized for supporting faith
based groups. Will president
Obama face opposition also?
U.S. President Barack Obama says America and the world need to tap the power of faith to unite people and provide for the common good. Mr. Obama says he will bring clergy and secular leaders together in a joint effort to help communities around the country.
President Obama has taken numerous actions in his first weeks in office to rescind the policies of his predecessor, George Bush. But there is one area in which they are in agreement: the importance of faith in American life.
Some people favor using
faith based groups.
In one corner is a string of religion-backed organizations that have accepted federal funds from the 8-year-old program to advance their secular charity work. President Bush issued an executive order in 2002 that allowed these groups to continue their practice of discrimination with respect to hiring. Specifically, many of the organizations carry policies against hiring outside their religion or hiring homosexuals whose lifestyles conflict with church doctrines.
And some oppose it.
In the other corner are separation-of-church-and-state advocates and human-rights organizations that say the government must constitutionally compel these organizations to follow nondiscrimination laws if they accept federal funding. Anything less, they say, would at best be a violation of church-state separation and at worst an implicit endorsement of discrimination.