Preserving an office comprising neighborhood organizations including religious institutions does not mean renewing the lease on the ill-conceived faith-based initiative as it exists today. In fact, the impetus for the program Barack Obama has proposed comes from the Senator’s strongest attributes: his experience as a community organizer, and his career as a constitutional lawyer.
As a community organizer, he knows that religious institutions make substantial contributions to neighborhood development and offer relief for struggling families. He knows that churches, synagogues and mosques are there for crisis intervention and to assist members of their communities who are desperate for help. And he is among many Americans who recognized that the true first responders to the overwhelming needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina were those organized by houses of worship.
But he also knows that previous administrations have exploited the willingness of religious institutions to provide relief, using the services given by these organizations as an excuse for withdrawing government support for individuals and communities. Senator Obama has never advocated such a thing. And he’s not doing that now.