Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More on Obama’s faith-based initiative

The NYT’s Peter Steinfels engages in wishful thinking about a more nuanced Obama approach to government cooperation with faith-based organizations than the one I criticized here.

The Senator himself continues to speak about his faith and faith-based policies. I haven’t yet seen a transcript of the latest speech, but I think I’ve read most of it before.

Discussions - 2 Comments


Who cares?

Good question Plain Vanilla, I suppose Dr. Knippenburg cares. I also suppose that this stuff is big business. Non-profits are a growing sector, despite the fact and perhaps because they have became bureaucratized. Which brings me to object to Dr. Knippenburg formulation concerning turning faith based groups into bureaucrats. My guess is the only people paying attention...the only people who "care" are lawyers and bureaucratized interest groups. And that sort of careing is already the sort of bureaucratized sort of caring that simply cares by "proxie". Essentially the local small fry faith based charity with actual energy is already at odds with the legal intelligensia.

Lets think about it this way, the only people who "care" about the legal battle are the parties involved, these parties are large and bureacratized already. The secularists and gay advocacy groups on one side and the religious intelligensia on the other. When was the last time that a typical guy as a matter of motivation decided that he wanted to work for a catholic aid group despite being aitheist? The equivalent in the "real" business might be a lawyer applying for a position as a plumber. Or as Carlos Mencia said it is like a Mexican without a green card applying for a job at border patrol. Like the sketch of Dave Chapelle applying for a position with the Clan. It is funny not because it is an example of discrimination(which is what the intellectuals make it into), but because it makes no sense motivation wise.

Yet, because no one pays attention and because we delegate authority and money to non-profits, the way the issue is guaranteed to be put foward is as a struggle for religious authority vs. gay rights subjectivity and religious sujectivity vs. Governmental authority. The gay rights groups not getting the recognition they desire in conflict with religious groups seek to ensure that religious groups will not get recognition from the government.

Obama in tossing out his comments about legal requirements and obstacles to funding, is tossing out a bone to appease the gay rights and secular groups, because what Obama wants to end is the particular fighting itself so that it can be refocused on what counts(which in Obama's calculus is hardnosed result based compassionate pragmatism).

In other words what Obama knows and what he is playing with is the gap between legalistic christians and typical christians. If you are a typical christian and mostly interested in social justice and activism then Obama is your man. If you are more of an academic christian worried about the metaphysical grounds of religion then what Obama proposes is scary, in part because it suggests flexibility of doctrine concerning hierarchy and the relation of critical consciousness to authority.

Leaving aside the problem that I think I can read Hegel but not Kant, nevertheless from Kant it would seem that Obama is angling for those who think that the most primary moral quality is "Good Will". In this limited sense then it would seem to me that Obama is playing well with those of "Good Will" who can't or haven't read Kant.

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