Obama sharpens church, state line

Secular and faith-based groups are receiving federal funds to provide relief to struggling families and individuals, but there’s a fly in the ointment.

‘ In his effort to rejuvenate the economy, President Obama continues to encourage the role of non-profit organizations. He believes the new Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships can provide vital economic stability necessary for inner-city communities.

His notion seems convincing, until it threatens the separation of church and state, as established in the Constitution. Needless to say, a conflict arose and was addressed Thursday by President Obama.

Under the previous administration’s faith-based aid guidelines, organizations founded on religion did not want to acquaint themselves with individuals who did not represent their beliefs and blatantly discriminated on their grounds to hire. For instance, they are openly unwilling to hire homosexuals. An executive order issued by former President Bush in 2002 permitted them to continue to do so while receiving federal funds.

With the advent of a new administration, there has been a resurgence against this hiring policy. Not just that, many are questioning the principles of the executive department.

The government does not regulate how these funds are put to use by the recipients. It would be fair to say these organizations may be biased in utilizing American taxpayers’ money. Furthermore, it implies the government is consciously assisting lop-sided growth, while instead the funds should be used in accordance with nondiscriminatory acts.

The FNP and its representative are faced with valid skepticism.

‘ President Obama has vowed to revise the programs structure.

‘(The groups) can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people (they) help, and (they) can’t discriminate against them – or against the people (they) hire – on the basis of their religion,’ Obama said Thursday at a prayer breakfast.

Asserting the government’s role as a supervisor, he has given way to an advisory council. The council will assist with problems faced by the office through developing procedures. For instance, instead of handing out funds, they will be issued on the basis of the organization’s productivity, not its religious founding.’

White House lawyers and the Justice department are asked to participate by providing a hiring policy.’ Ira C. Lupu, a George Washington University School of Law professor, does not see any resolution to be written in stone.

‘There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this hiring problem ‘hellip; faith-based hiring is going to be allowed in some government-funded programs and not in others,’ he said.

The fact of the matter is non-profit organizations are efficient and highly productive because of their concentrated nature.’ Well-aware of this fact, Obama wants to use them as a resource to the advantage of the people, as well as to ease pressure off the government.

He believes these organizations have the advantage of being closer to the people in need, making them advocates of the government’s welfare provision. Thus, he feels optimistically of the joint venture of these two institutions in society.’

Many adamantly oppose the ecumenical effort. In an effort to keep up with the agenda we should make it worthwhile instead. President Obama stands his ground and states: ‘This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.’

Anousheh Kehar is an architecture sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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