Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Obama’s faith-based initiative yet again

Last week, I wrote something for the First Things site, which is posted here. I’m still defending religious hiring rights against those (like Obama) who don’t think that religious freedom is compatible with government cooperation with faith-based groups.

Actually, I don’t know whether Obama actually believes this, but it’s the position his party has held ever since George W. Bush took office: government dollars must needs be secularizing dollars. And rest assured, Barack Obama wants more of those secularizing dollars out there.

Hence Acton’s Robert Sirico thinks that the faith-based initiative is--always has been--a bad idea. If, for Rev. Sirico, there’s a silver lining in Obama’s cloud, it is that perhaps some groups will stay away from those secularizing dollars. But the dollars--more of ’em--will still be there. And, unless I miss my bet, those dollars (secularizing or not) will be there regardless of who occupies the Oval Office.

For another version of Rev. Sirico’s argument, see this post by our friend Jordan Ballor.

Update: MOJ’s Tom Berg has the best brief account I’ve seen of the state of religious hiring rights, an account so nuanced and subtle as to make Harvard Law’s Martha Minow look like an ideologue by comparison.

Discussions - 1 Comment

The key question might be whether expansive government and separation of church and state can go hand in hand. Progressives used to assume that religion was the way of the past, and, as such, it would die off. If that assumption was wrong, and if, in fact, religion is natural (in the sense that so long as there are men on earth there will be religions), then, as the state expands, it is the state that has intruded upon the sphere that properly belongs to religion. If that's the case, in order to continue to have religious liberty in the age of the megastate, we have to find a model other than the "wall of separation."

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