‘Too big for government to solve alone’?

Hi cafe kids. Christy here, with a knee-jerk reaction to Senator Obama’s new expression of faith in faith-based initiatives.

As conceived and implemented by the pious George W. Bush, this program seemed to serve primarily as a channel for directly rewarding Bush’s faith-based base and culture-war donors. Of course, faith-based folks should do good deeds, and they have a long history of doing so using their own money. Government, too, should do good for the people, using taxpayer funds. Where’s the good in blending and blurring the two financially and in their missions?

I concur with the Rev. Barry Lynn,  executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who told the AP today: “I am disappointed that any presidential candidate would want to continue a failed policy of the Bush administration. … It ought to be shut down, not continued.”

It seems to me that Obama has other avenues for earning the votes of the religious faithful. I don’t see the need for this on strictly political terms, and I don’t like it as a policy position.  What was wrong with separation of church and state?

Obama wants to expand faith-based programs

8 Responses to “‘Too big for government to solve alone’?”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Jeez it’s nice for an old geezer like me to be called a kid. Thanks Christy!

  2. Again Says:

    What was wrong with separation of church and state?

    the same, what was “wrong” with rational behavior - too “uncomfortable”

    religion is much easier as “lifestyle” - for the leaders it is rationalization for aristocracy, for the underlings it is rationalization for timidity

    (OTH - China is the only regime able to survive more than 2000 years - and AFAIK it’s leadership doesn’t depend on religion, very uncommon - isn’t that interesting?)

    btw: one of my favorite thinkers is Bertrand Russell:

    “It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door”

    “We may define “faith” as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups, substitute different emotions.”

    so down with Renaissance! Down with “Sapere Aude”! Back to the good ol’ days of Middle Age and Theocracy, of Spanish Inquisition and Sharia and Malleus Maleficarum!

    “It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.” (again, Bertrand Russell)

  3. juliinjax Says:

    It is quite amusing to see the blogoshere up in arms, alarmed by Obama’s support of faith-based community projects. Do you really know so little about who Obama is and where he has come from? I guess you thought his work as a community organizer in Chicago, working with the Catholic and UCC churches was all some kind of long range plan to pass himself off as religious when the time came to run for President? Are you as cynical about the Faith of MLK? Of Archbishop Tutu? Of John Paul III? Of Ghandi? Don’t begrudge people their faith, just as you do not wish others to begrudge you your atheism, or paganism, or spirituality, or agnosticism. Faith-based initiatives can indeed be a power for good, and can bring communities together and make them stronger. Why should progressives complain about Obama’s stance on this? It comes from his heart, he safeguards against prosyletizing and discriminatory hiring, and the groups will have to adhere to federal employee practices. I say AMEN to that.

  4. RJHall Says:

    Again -

    So, Bertrand Russell said what needed to be done: if there is no evidence that man is a rational animal, then you need to substitute emotion for evidence and have FAITH that man is a rational animal! :)

    Juli -

    It’s not necessarily just one thing in isolation that is alarming about Obama. It’s kind of like on Columbo: lots of little things, each of which might individually be trivial and each of which might be easily explained away, all add up to strongly focusing the detective’s suspicion and making him know whodunit. So with Obama, it’s not just the individual thing that this week he said “Faith-based initiatives? Bring ‘em on!” (obviously I’m paraphrasing here). And it’s not just that last week he said (quoting, not paraphrasing this time), “My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people.” No, it’s lots and lots of little things that add up to his entire campaign being “Bait and Switch”: mentioning “change” since that is what we are all desperately salivating for but really offering it only as one word in this line from a Neil Diamond song: “Except for the names and a few other changes, if you talk about me, the story is the same one.”

    On a comedy tv show a while back (called “Almost Live”), there was a scene in which two happy people are lying back on top of a pickup truck, drinking beer, enjoying life. One of them says contentedly, “It doesn’t get better than this!” The other one (played by Bill Nye) suddenly sits up and says worriedly, “It doesn’t?” Only when enough people start having that last response to the status quo (which definitely includes Obama) can anything REALLY change.

  5. Again Says:


    then you need to substitute emotion for evidence and have FAITH that man is a rational animal!

    ;-) ;-) ;-)

    sounds like casting out Satan by Beelzebub…

    i prefer focusing on brain - then i know, it is rational - clean and pure. That it can make mistakes? Shit happens, Garbage in - Garbage out, Murphy’s Law, the (in effect) infinity of reality - take your pick…

    all add up to strongly focusing the detective’s suspicion and making him know whodunit.

    good description of this vague “stomach feeling”: the Messiah Effect (not a rating, just google that ;-)

    and looking at history, there were so many Messiahs….

  6. Larkrise Says:

    Politics, pure, plain and simple. Be all things to all people. Tell them what they want to hear. Play to the middle.
    I firmly support separation of church and state. It is best for the church and best for the state. L’air de politiciane’. Smells like a barrel of herring.

  7. juliinjax Says:

    Coming back to this topic because of a revelation:The Story of Stone Soup


    Once upon a time, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wanderer came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

    “There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”

    “Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

    By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the stranger sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

    “Ahh,” the stranger said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”

    Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the stranger. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”

    The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.
    This story illustrates to me what Barack Obama is doing in this campaign. On one level, it can feel deceitful, hence the “empty suit” references and the “be all things to all people” impression for others. Got Hope? is one of the messages straight from the campaign, and that is the stone in the soup. We have been living under a regime of hopelessness for 8 years. There are many of us who know bits and pieces of what MUST be done to save the planet for human life, to provide care for the young and the elderly and to allow each citizen a minimum of dignity and human rights. All the rest is policy and we all have strong feelings about certain avenues, but I’m talking about survival measures.

    The challenges are so great and so overwhelming that many people bury their heads in various distractions rather than face what lies ahead. Barack Obama has given so many of us this stone of hope that we can all contribute a small portion of our energy and together we can join these bits and pieces into something that can nourish and sustain a nation.

    It is not the man, it is the movement.

  8. MikeH Says:

    I remember the story of Stone Soup being read on Captain Kangaroo, which I used to watch when I was a kid.

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