In upcoming months, I'll be spending time in Colorado and missing my volunteer commitment in Minneapolis. Recently, I looked for a local agency that would allow me to continue working with homeless kids.
My most likely place to volunteer is run by Catholic Charities.
As a secular volunteer, I'll be in the minority, but won't be subject to restrictive hiring practices at the root of contention over faith-based initiatives that funnel federal money to religious organizations. As a progressive, I wish President Obama had made a more definitive statement against faith-based hiring when he announced his extension of Pres. Bush's faith-based initiative.
But we replaced the Decider with the Nuancer, and we'd better get used to it.
Groups on different sides of the hiring issue are not going to agree, no matter what Obama decides. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives faith-based organizations the right to discriminate in hiring with respect to religion. Most progressives think groups that discriminate shouldn't receive public money. And many advocates for the poor are interested in what works for them, which is where I come down.
According to this analysis, Obama isn't waffling on his campaign statements against federally funded faith-based hiring. He's considering the "legal, political and operational issues" more thoroughly before making a judgment.
Meanwhile, Obama will make two significant changes in the Bush-era office.
An expanded portfolio that "will include abortion reduction, promoting responsible fathering, and engaging in global interfaith dialogue, particularly with the Muslim world."
A less evangelical orientation that "includes Jewish, Muslim, mainline Protestant, and Catholic members, along with representatives of secular organizations."
Religious groups like the Mormons are likely to remain on the funding sidelines, where they will continue to promote discrimination in society at large.