Print More

Beliefnet’s Dan Gilgoff has an interview with Obama on religion that’s worth a scan. Nothing especially new, but this answer to the “charitable choice” draws the critical distinction.

You wrote in “The Audacity of Hope” about the role that faith and faith-based programs could play in confronting social ills. Isn’t your view on that similar to George W. Bush’s?
No, I don’t think so, because I am much more concerned with maintaining the line between church and state. And I believe that, for the most part, we can facilitate the excellent work that’s done by faith-based institutions when it comes to substance abuse treatment or prison ministries…. I think much of this work can be done in a way that doesn’t conflict with church and state. I think George Bush is less concerned about that.
My general criteria is that if a congregation or a church or synagogue or a mosque or a temple wants to provide social services and use government funds, then they should be able to structure it in a way that all people are able to access those services and that we’re not seeing government dollars used to proselytize.

  • Asinus Gravis

    Excellent interview–informed, probing, informative, stimulating.
    I find the issue of faith-based programs quite troublesome. It sounds to me like Obama thinks he sees a line that can be drawn that I cannot see at all.
    The recent federal court decision striking down the prison program in Iowa run by Colson’s outfit clealy shows what can and does tend to go badly astray with such faith-based initiatives. I’m fully supportive of the opposition to such things by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and by the ACLU.
    Another problem with such programs is that there has been no interest in trying to find out, by careful impartial empirical studies, whether they work at all. They seem to be purely ideology driven.