Sunday, April 12, 2009

Feeling religion?

Feministing looked at Pres. Obama's Faith-based initiative.
Obama has made his final appointments to his controversial council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Sarah Posner summarizes what that means for reproductive rights:

With his council appointments now complete, Obama has given far more seats on his council to religious leaders who are anti-choice than to ones who are openly pro-choice, even though the majority of Americans favor legal abortion. There are only two pro-choicers, and they're both Jewish. Reproductive-health advocates suggested several pro-choice Christians to the White House as worthy additions to the council. By not giving them seats, though, the administration shows that it is too afraid to challenge anti-choice evangelicals by putting their pro-choice brothers and sisters at the same table.
Frances Kissling also points out that the appointments aren't just predominantly anti-choice -- they're also mostly men. Five of the council members recently signed on to a letter asking Obama not to overturn the Bush administration's HHS policy allowing health care providers to deny services (such as contraception) based on their personal beliefs. (Planned Parenthood has a letter you can sign asking Obama to follow through and get rid of the policy!)

I agree with folks who argue that religious groups can be providers of essential services without proselytizing or stepping on the rights of others. But Bush's legacy is strong. He primarily used "Faith-Based Initiatives" as a way to pander to his base politically -- not to actually provide more services to more people in need. And he supported many of these faith-based groups' decisions to only hire people of their religion or to maintain discriminatory policies toward LGBTQ people. Obama's actions are looking all too familiar.

And still the Newt thinks Obama is "anti religious." Wrong again, Newt. Wrong again.

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