Before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 changed the course of world events and the administration of George W. Bush, it looked like his focus as President was going to be on making his Faith-based Initiative a reality, despite considerable opposition from Democrats and other groups dedicated to keeping religion and politics separate. Over eight years President Bush has managed to bring his Faith-based initiative to fruition and has had some successes. For proof, one need look no further than the public pronouncements of support from soon-to-be President Obama.
President-elect Obama has offered general statements of support for many of the religious organizations that have received federal money in the past eight years in order to carry out missions deemed to be in the public interest (orphanages, job retraining, soup kitchens, prison transitions assistance). But he has also offered some comments that have some of these groups worried about their financial futures. Obama has raised the issue of discriminatory hiring practices at religious work places where federal non-discrimination laws are not in effect, and has questioned whether federal money should go to places where federal protections do not. Nevertheless, many African-American religious groups that supported Obama’s candidacy are supportive of federal funding for Faith-based initiatives, and are urging Obama to continue moving along the path carved out by his predecessor.
The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy has written an extensive report on the status of Faith-based initiatives during this time of transition. It is vital reading for anyone with an ongoing interest in the successes and failures of Bush’s Office for Faith-based Initiatives and its future prospects.