Sunday, February 7, 2010

Keeping faith, courting conservatives

Taken from here.

by Peter Wallsten
The Wall Street Journal

President Barack Obama's willingness to keep Bush-era policies on government-backed religious charities has angered many liberals but is helping to woo traditionally Republican evangelical leaders who can influence key blocs of voters.

The approach, according to conservative leaders and liberal critics alike, is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats to regain credibility with centrist and conservative voters who tend to be more religious and have supported the GOP in recent polls and elections.

Mr. Obama has left in place a contentious Bush policy permitting charities that receive federal aid to hire employees based on their religious beliefs--a policy that civil-liberties groups consider unconstitutional and that candidate Obama had criticized.

The president will consider retaining a Bush-era practice of allowing government-backed religious charities to display crucifixes, "Jesus saves" posters and other symbols in the rooms where people receive aid, according to people involved in the discussions. Critics say that essentially amounts to taxpayer-funded proselytizing. This week, a majority of members of a faith advisory council appointed by Mr. Obama to examine the program voted against requiring charities to remove the images, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

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In many ways, a religious Democrat is the perfect President for Muslims. ("Religious," meaning allowing faith to play a larger role in governmental affairs.) The fact that the President is religious means that they will ensure that faith and God are not taboo in American society and allow religious organizations more leeway in what they may say and do. The fact that the President is a Democrat, ensures that the words "religious," "religion," and "faith" don't mean "born again," "Christianity," and "Judeo-Christian."

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