Monday, February 16, 2009

Faith-Based Funding: Back Step on Human Rights by New President

A New York Times editorial today catches my eye. It’s entitled “Faith-Based Fudging” (here).

As the editorial notes, the order that President Obama signed recently to extend Bush’s faith-based social services program contains no prohibition of discrimination by federally funded faith-based programs. This despite a campaign promise that any renewal of the faith-based initiative would prohibit discrimination in these programs.

As my previous postings about this have noted, discrimination has gone on in faith-based groups funded by this initiative, and I have no reason to doubt that it will continue now (here, with links to previous postings about this issueon this blog). I share the dismay of the Times editorialist that the new president has backed away from his promise to prohibit religious-based discrimination as he continues the Bush program of giving tax dollars to religious groups that provide social services.

In my view, this is another concession by Mr. Obama to religionists of the right, who did not support his campaign and are unlikely to be wooed by such concessions, even as they are eager to take handouts from the federal government. This willingness to compromise on such a key issue—religious groups engaging in discrimination while receiving tax dollars should stop discriminating or stop being funded—does not bode well for the new administration’s commitment to human rights.

Those of us who are LGBT, in particular, should monitor these programs carefully. We are, after all, the primary targets when these faith-based groups choose to discriminate.