Obama really gets 'religious' - but we'll pay for it


Barack Obama plans to expand Bush's "faith-based" initiative.

That just about does it for me. The flag pin he decided to add to his lapel should have been a warning, but I really found myself distanced from the man after enduring his "adjustments" on fundamental issues like gun control, government surveillance, trade policy, and getting us out of Iraq. Now I'm also supposed to go along with his call for escalating the government's financial support (my taxes included) for the most powerful institutions of superstition, obscurantism, prejudice and hate in the nation.

Haven't we and the world already paid far too much for the mistake of giving religion the free pass it enjoys now (and I'm not referring only to its tax-free status)? If organized religion were capable of benignly and impartially ministering to the welfare of everyone we wouldn't have had to invent government. And if religion could possibly be described as fundamentally caring and nonpartisan, there'd be only one of them out there.

Obama still has four months to continue turning off many of his most enthusiastic supporters. Does he think the big money he will attract by doing so will smell better than the mites coming from those with little to spare? Does he actually believe in the junk positions he's assuming, or does he do it because he has to do in order to get elected? Either way, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any president to move to the left once she or he slithers into the Oval Office. The creditors wouldn't stand for it.

I should pay more attention to what I've already written: We really do have only one political party.

George Carlin was right.

ADDENDUM: This excerpt is from a post by Huffington Post blogger Barry W. Lynn, an ordained minister and Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

The problem with the faith-based initiative is that it's a euphemism. We used to call such things "taxpayer-supported religion." Of course, no one would support it if it were called that. After all, the idea of taxing people to pay for religion is scary. It's what got folks so riled up back in the colonial period. No one wanted to pay taxes to support some other person's religion.

No one wants to pay them today, either. Yet increasingly we are being asked to do so. Eager to appear faith friendly, candidates in both parties are increasingly upping the ante for how much they plan to dole out to religion if elected.

[image from Steve Kemple]

Those of us non-believers who supported Obama from the beginning, in Iowa, have always been aware of his interest in using religion to accomplish his political goals. Why is this surprising to anyone who has read his books or knows his biography? His stint as a community organizer was sponsored by churches. He believes that people with religious beliefs can and should address the issues of justice and fairness. Where would the black civil rights movement have been without the black church? He does demand accountability and that federal employment rules be followed in order to participate. Jimmy Carter first opened the door, inviting religious people to support him; while I wish that decision had not been made, it cannot be undone. The least our tax-exempt churches could do for us is to be useful in solving some of our worst social problems, and that is clearly what Obama intends.

Thanks James.
Good to see my partener and I aren't out alone in this. This spoonful of sugar crap really gets me. Obama the man the
Mr. Flip Flop run to the middle. The man never appealed to me. He will do us in as quick as Billy Clinton. Remember when he was the poster boy of the GLBTers? Sure f***ed them fast. While Obama moves to the right he is forgetting one thing. He will gain no support from the right and lose all his support from the left. At least the thinking left. I do not want one penny of my taxes going to any type of religious faith based crap or any religion period. They should keep their noses out of politics. I hate it when the liberals stick their nose into GLBT issues. Man I told them once I told them twice I don't want their holy wars. I don't care what Jesus said or didn't say, nor do I give a rats bottom for Buddha, Confucius, Krishna, Mary, Allah g-d or old Uncle Harry.(he's got that little church up in the hills where he is charmed by snakes and eats a lot of apples)

Religious people can support him all they want or all he wants but don't use my money to pay them off.

Of course we only have one political party. Isn't it a shame that America can't grow up.

I think he is just trying to pick off voters from the religious community. Progressive Catholics. Latino Catholics and Evangelicals who feel alienated by xenophobic and nativist Republican immigration policies. I think he has a right to appeal to these voters. I'm an atheist myself but I agree with progressive Catholics about the death penalty. They are swing voters for a reason. Many of their views are not in line with Republican policies.
Anyway he just came out in support of trans inclusive ENDA. If he starts courting the hard right I'll be concerned.

I think BO is looking at the bigger picture. He recognizes that he will not be able to get anything meaningful done (end the war, better health care, energy policy, etc) without support from some groups (religous and conservative) that he would most likely rather not deal with.

Also, I think its worth mentioning that he actually acknowledges the arts as an issue. His policies (more for art ed, health care for artists, tax fairness, etc) are on his site.

He might be heading more to the middle for the general election, but this is common practice in these situations. Call it selling out, flip flopping, whatever you want, but I see it all as strategy for getting into office.