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On July 1st, 2008, Barack Obama made a speech in Zanesville, OH detailing his plan to expand President Bush’s Faith-Based initiatives. This immediately created reactions both negative and positive.

AU is in the “negative” category, for obvious reasons. In a statement, Rev. Barry Lynn said, “This initiative has been a failure on all counts, and it ought to be shut down, not expanded.”

Senator Obama offered some assurances about his plan:

Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.

While this may sound good, it may also be short-sighted. Organizations are notoriously good at moving money around. How exactly can the government truly provide oversight and ensure the integrity of the program? What happens when he leaves office and is succeeded by someone who is more open to the ideas of the Religious Right? Will these expanded initiatives come from an Executive Order, as was done by President Bush, or will it be debated and voted on in Congress?

David Kuo, the former Deputy Director of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, wrote a book detailing how the office became a corrupt organization of political favoritism.

Sadly corruption is a logical result we’ve seen time and again. And that is why AU fights against this sort of thing.

Barry Lynn wrote a good article on The Huffington Post about this. It’s worth a read.

The question now is, where do we go from here? And what about John McCain? What is his stance on this??