Obama to Expand Faith-based Programs

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Continuing his effort to appeal to Christian conservatives, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Tuesday that if elected he would expand President Bush's faith-based programs.

Under the Bush administration, the faith-based programs have allowed deserving religious charities to be subsidized by federal dollars.

Obama says he would also require that these charities get more involved in government anti-poverty programs.

He says he will support the religious groups ability to hire and fire based on a person's faith. But some critics may charge that such faith requirements are discriminatory.

"The challenges we face today. are simply too big for government to solve alone," Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. "We need all hands on deck."

Obama is focusing on American values this week leading up to Friday's Fourth of July holiday. He presented his faith-based approach while touring the Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio.

The senator is also working to quell any voter doubts about his patriotism or his faith. At the same time, he is making appeals to many evangelical Christians, a group that has been one of the cornerstones of the Republican Party for more than 20 years.

David Kuo, a conservative Christian who was deputy director of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives until 2003, praised Obama's approach as smart, impressive and well thought-out. But he said he is taking a wait-and-see attitude about whether it would deliver.

"When it comes to promises to help the poor, promises are easy," he said. In 2006, Kuo wrote a book describing his frustration with what he called Bush's lackluster enthusiasm for the program. "The question is commitment."

Obama says he would bring up the program to be a "moral center" of his administration.

Under his plan, the program would be renamed as the President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It would also move to allow larger religious charities to counsel other deserving charities in their communities.

Obama's faith-based council would partner with state and local governments to make sure that resources would be available. All community-based programs would be evaluated for their effectiveness and the results of those evaluations would be reported.

Source: CBN News, The Associated Press

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