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Decisions Presentation


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Decisions Presentation

  1. 1. The Decision: On July 1, 2008, Barack Obama announced that as president he would expand President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives…
  2. 2. White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives/Neighborhood Partnerships The Federal Government* Faith-Based Organizations $ for social services *Congress distributes funding to 26 federal grant- making agencies (e.g. the Department of Health and Human Services). These agencies then award grants to private groups, including faith-based organizations, that provide social services. Religious Activities Secular Activities
  3. 3. July 2008 “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.”
  4. 4. February 2009 Obama signs an executive order instituting the renamed Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Instead of getting rid of discriminatory hiring as promised, Obama instead says hiring decisions will be considered on a case-by-case basis by a new 25 member advisory panel and the Justice Department—at least until future notice.
  5. 5. Mainstream Print Coverage of July ‘08 Announcement • Horse-Race Reporting – nearly all major outlets framed Obama’s decision as an attempt to woo evangelical voters • Constitutional issues mentioned, but not explained • No statistics on effectiveness of Bush initiatives • No historical context given
  6. 6. Mainstream Print Coverage of February ‘09 Announcement - Failed to ask, “What happened between July and February?” - NYT and LAT say “religious groups” and “conservative groups,” respectively, have been lobbying Obama, but both fail to name a single one - Very little placement of 25 member advisory panel - Existence of faith-based office taken as a given - Again, very little exploration of constitutional issues or historical context.
  7. 7. Another Perspective Another part of the story that often goes uncovered is that some religious groups are wary of partnerships between faith-based groups and the government. R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “I would never advise a Christian organization to participate in these federal programs or to receive tax monies. The brutal reality is that where government money flows, government regulation inevitably follows…When government policies violate the organization's convictions, or when regulations would require a compromise of those convictions, government funding is a trap.”
  8. 8. Issue History 1787 to 1989 (Jenny) 1989-2009 (Nicky)
  9. 9. Kramnick and Moore cite two legacies in American history with respect to church/state issues: “Some Americans have inherited extravagant hopes about what religion, specifically Christianity, may accomplish in solving social problems through moral instruction. Others look to a different legacy, one that suggests how easily partisan religion in the hands of a purported majority can become a dangerous form of intellectual and political tyranny.”
  10. 10. September 17, 1787 The United States Constitution is adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia
  11. 11. The constitution makes no mention of God or Christianity. In article 6, it does, however, make a sole reference to religion, declaring: “…no religious test shall ever be required as qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” At the time 11 of the 13 colonies required religious tests for public office. For example, Delaware required all public officials to profess “faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God blessed and forever more.”
  12. 12. As the states considered whether or not to ratify the constitution, fierce debate broke out about its Godlessness, its failure to declare the U.S. a Christian nation, and whether or not the no religious tests clause was a good idea. An (offensive) example: A January 1788 editorial in the New York Daily Advertiser decried the fact that, without religious tests, the following groups would be allowed to govern in the United States: “1st. Quakers, who will make the blacks saucy, and at the same time deprive us of the means of defence—2ndly. Mahometans, who ridicule the doctrine of the trinity—3rdly. Deists, abominable wretches—4thly. Negroes, the seed of Cain—5thly. Beggars, who when set on horseback will ride to the devil—6thly. Jews etc. etc.”
  13. 13. But not all those worried about the constitution’s omission of God were hysterical or bigoted. There was a genuine worry that democracy could not function without state-sponsored religion. A widely reprinted 1788 editorial in the Massachusetts Gazette read: “…[I]t is more difficult to build an elegant house without tools to work with, than it is to establish a durable government without the publick protection of religion.”
  14. 14. During the ratification debates, many worried the constitution failed to adequately protect civil rights. In 1789, the Bill of Rights was drafted to correct this oversight. It introduced ten amendments to the constitution, the first of which read: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
  15. 15. The First Amendment Congress shall make no law… The Establishment Clause: respecting an establishment of religion, The Free Exercise Clause: or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Over the years the Supreme Court has issued numerous rulings clarifying the meaning of these clauses, generally upholding the Jeffersonian idea of “a wall of separation between church and state.”
  16. 16. 1947 - Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing The school board cannot reimburse parents for cost of busing their children to Catholic school. “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State.’”
  17. 17. 1964 – The Civil Rights Act passes. Prohibits discrimination in hiring, but an exemption is made for jobs that are “religiously significant.” 1972 – After some debate over what this means, Congress amends the act so that religious groups can discriminate with respect to religion in hiring for any job. But to this day no one is sure if religious groups that receive federal money can discriminate in hiring without violating the constitution.
  18. 18. 1971- Lemon v. Kurtzman Supreme Court rules that the government cannot provide salary subsidies to teachers at religious schools, even when they are only teaching secular subjects. The Lemon Test – Three guidelines to judge whether a law regarding religion is constitutional. 1) Must have a secular purpose 2) Its main effect can not be to advance or inhibit religion 3) It cannot “foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.”
  19. 19. 1989 – Dodge v. Salvation Army U.S. District Court of Biloxi, Mississippi Salvation Army fires an employee for being a Wiccan. Court rules that her was substantially funded by the government, her firing was prohibited under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
  20. 20. Final thought – lest you think I am a left-wing ideologue quot;The issues are always framed in terms of how would someone not religious feel in a program that was religious and I just think it is also important to think about the fact that the situation is often reversed,quot; Humphreys says. quot;What's happened, you've got the chattering class, the sort of commentator class, the professional class, the academic class [who] are generally white educated people who have health insurance and they will never access any of these programs. They're also very secular people. And so they think, 'I would really be upset if that happened to me.' But that's not who we're talking about. We're talking about the most religious segment of the country, who don't have health insurance, who end up in the public sector system. So I'm ultimately worried less so about how somebody who is not part of that world and will never be affected by this program speculates about it and how the people who actually need these services so they don't die of this rotten disorder feel about it.quot;