Monday, June 9, 2008

Keeping The Faith - Eleanor Clift Latest NPT Column

Along with the Iraq War and his efforts to democratize the Middle East, President Bush will be remembered for bringing a more open embrace of religion into his administration. He campaigned on a promise to forge a partnership between government and religious organizations that deliver social services, and in his first week as president, created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

If the Founding Fathers were around, the president might have to explain why this overt introduction of religion didn’t overstep the line they drew between church and state. In any event, the faith-based initiative that is Bush’s signature project has withstood legal challenges and is now well established in the government with offices in a dozen departments and agencies, including Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services.

It is perhaps Bush’s proudest domestic achievement, and one that he would like to see extended regardless of who follows him as president. Bob Tuttle, a professor of law at George Washington University, says, “It’s safe to say none of the candidates would be devoted to it as a personal issue the way Bush has, but it’s hard to see the political advantage in abolishing the faith-based initiative. I’m not sure they’d want to take that on.”

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