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March 3rd, 2009
10:16 AM ET

A faith-based fix

Can Obama’s makeover of Bush’s faith initiatives speed the economic recovery?

The Root
Dayo Olopade

The first month of Barack Obama’s presidency brought change to all parts to Washington—none more sweeping than the passage of his American Recovery Act, designed to shock the U.S. economy out of its slump. A notable portion of the $787 billion should be coming to communities of color that have been particularly hard hit by the downturn. And one of the key vehicles for getting the money to needy citizens will be Obama’s brand-new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The president “wants one of the functions of that office to be the implementation of the Recovery Act,” said Melody Barnes, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, where the faith office will be housed. “He’s outlined a few different ways in which he hopes the office will initially be quite helpful, one of them being the connection between the bill and the reality.”

Though the specifics of the distribution have yet to be filled in, lawmakers in heavily black districts are already expressing hope about the boost to religious-based organizations. "There are huge numbers of faith-based organizations that have nonprofit groups that are serving communities, especially in this time of crisis,” said Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland following the Congressional Black Caucus’ first White House meeting with the president. “I think the administration has taken recognition of that.”

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Filed under: Economy • Faith • President Barack Obama • Religion
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Chris Sosa - Boston, MA

    While the concept sounds nice, the realities of government-sponsored funding for any religious group makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I am a very active progressive Christian, and as such have had plenty of opportunities to watch the church abuse the resources they already have. It seems that President Obama is unaware that the vast majority of American churches have one goal in mind: conversion. If the money was to be exclusively used for the intended purposes, this would be an excellent program. The bleak reality is that the churches will most likely use the money as a springboard for their own conversion agenda. This money should be given to more trustworthy organizations.

    March 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Melissa: If it is front to get the Christians in this country to do what they should be doing----my question is what are the Atheists suppose to be doing?-–I hope not relying on the Christians?

    March 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  3. Melissa

    Faith is bad. But since Obama chose to actually include the Atheists in his inaugeration speach, I'm holding up hope that its mostly just a front to get the Christians in this country to do what they should be doing anyway.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  4. Dulcie - Denver

    What about people like me who don't want to be beholden to religious zealots? What do we do? I guess we either have to suck it up and mouth the platitudes or go hungry.

    I don't want to be force-fed Jesus just so I can get a little help.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  5. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships--implies in God We Trust--American Recovery Act-–means the rest pays cash.

    March 3, 2009 at 11:55 am |