While loudly proclaiming his outreach to evangelicals, including an embrace of the popular program of Faith Based Initiatives, leaders of the programs tell me that Senator Barack Obama’s planned changes will kill the program.
“It will likely be the embrace of death,” says Dave Donaldson, the bi-partisan point man on the subject, labeled by some as the “father of faith based initiatives.” Donaldson tells me that Obama’s proposed rule that faith cannot be used in hiring will spell the end of the most effective programs since they are operated by specific churches and specific denominational groups who will only want to hire their own. “To lose their religious and cultural identity is to kill the effectiveness of their programs,” says Donaldson.
“Imagine a right wing, conservative Republican showing up at Obama headquarters and demanding a job because they are the most qualified and the Obama people being required by law to hire them regardless of their beliefs?” asks Donaldson. “Or imagine a pro-life person wanting a job from Planned Parenthood? That is what will happen to Faith Based works under Obama. But an atheist running a Teen Challenge drug rehab program will not likely be successful.”
Charitable Choice, as it was called in the Bill Clinton administration was overwhelmingly passed by a bi-partisan congressional majority to give persons of need access to faith based programs if they were deemed the most effective. The movement was successful because some church run social programs outpaced their government counterparts. The Bush administration called those same programs, Faith Based Initiatives.
Senator John McCain would keep the program as it has been established by the Clinton and Bush administrations, faith based groups would still be allowed to hire persons from their own religion.
While getting credit in the national media for moving to the political center, Obama’s new rule for faith based groups may be the harbinger of things to come in what will likely be a much more liberal administration. Donaldson, who has contacts in both political parties and has served on the board of Jim Wallis’ operation is philosophical about the proposed changes, quoting Ronald Reagan’s famous warning, “If you get in bed with government you will never have a good night sleep.”
Read the whole story on McCain and the Evangelicals in the next issue of Newsmax Magazine.