Thursday, 3 July 2008

The progressive candidate?

From the New York Times yesterday: Obama Seeks Bigger Role for Religious Groups.

This is about giving more federal government money to religious groups to supply social services.

“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,” Mr. Obama said. “Federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs.”

How can anything run by a religious organisation be considered secular? If religious outfits are given government money to spend, that empowers them, it gives them publicity and enhances their status. The sky pilots get the credit, and the government gets the bill. How can this not help them in promoting their beliefs?

Is Obama pandering here, or does he believe in this stuff? For me it makes no difference - motive isn’t important, I’m against it either way. Government services shouldn’t be distorted by irrational belief systems, whatever the motive.

One might have hoped that Obama would have learned something by now of the dangers of dabbling in religion for electoral gain, and of the dangers of religious figures gaining political power in local communities. Both candidates have had problems in this area, but Obama’s were more fundamental, as they concerned his judgement over the long term. It seems to me he still has a lot to learn.

Follow up posts here and here.

The illustration above was drawn in 2000 for the British trade publication ‘Computing’.

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