On NBC’s “Today,” Obama sought to counter charges that he is triangulating himself into the center by pointing out, among other things, that he has consistently supported faith-based initiatives. This may be an area, however, where he has made an adjustment to the left. In The Audacity of Hope, he writes:
[O]ne can envision certain faith-based programs–targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers–that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems and hence merit carefully tailored support. (p. 221)
Now saying that such faith-based programs are “uniquely” qualified can only mean that they incorporate religion into the treatment plan–something secular service providers can’t do. And that therefore they offer something that employees not committed to the particular religious program can’t supply. In short, this would seem to be an oblique endorsement of a hiring exemption from religious non-discrimination rules for at least some faith-based providers. And that’s something Obama seemed explicitly to rule out last week. For those evangelicals and other embracers of the Bush approach who expected something more congenial from Obama, it appears they had some reason to be disappointed.