Obama Inaction On Faith-Based Initiative Is Deeply Disappointing, Says Americans United

For Immediate Release

Obama Inaction On Faith-Based Initiative Is Deeply Disappointing, Says Americans United

WASHINGTON - A presidential advisory council is scheduled to offer
recommendations today on the “faith-based” initiative and other issues,
but critics say the report is overshadowed by President Barack Obama’s
failure to fix problematic Bush-era rules that undercut civil rights
and civil liberties.

The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood
Partnerships will issue recommendations about the White House
faith-based office and a wide range of other issues during a day-long
session at the White House.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said, however,
that the Obama administration needs to take action, not spend time
studying reports.

“I am deeply disappointed at President Obama’s handling of the
faith-based initiative,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United
executive director. “He has kept the harmful Bush-era policies in place
and added a constitutionally inappropriate council of religious leaders
to offer policy advice. This is not separation of church and state.

“A year has passed,” Lynn continued, “and the president has failed
to take steps to carry out his promise to ban religious discrimination
in publicly funded social services. He has also failed to take
effective action to bar proselytizing. Change is long overdue.”

Lynn noted that the American people want the president to act.
According to a 2008 Pew Research Center poll, 61 percent of Americans
say groups that encourage religious conversion should not be eligible
for public funding. An overwhelming 73 percent say organizations that
hire only people who share their religious beliefs should not receive
government grants.

During a July 1, 2008, Zanesville, Ohio, speech, Obama promised to
end Bush administration policies that permit publicly funded
faith-based social service programs to proselytize and discriminate in
hiring based on religion.

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Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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