A triumph of framing
When President Barack Obama launches his version of the faith-based initiative Thursday, he will expand the mission…He will also try to avoid the thorniest constitutional issues that beset the program for years under his predecessor. Mr. Obama’s approach to the federal faith office reflects his search for common ground on contentious social issues, and his willingness to dial back some of his campaign positions.
Okay…there shouldn’t be such a thing as ‘the federal faith office’ – that should be an obvious clanging embarrassing oxymoron, or else a symptom of lunacy or breakdown that should send everyone screaming for the hills. There shouldn’t be a fucking ‘federal faith office’ because the state should not be imposing ‘faith’ on people because ‘faith’ is a bad defective stupid wrong broken incompetent erroneous way to think. I’m sick of this crap. I’m sick of hearing ‘faith’ glorified on all sides at all hours of the day and night; I’m sick of being unable to escape the stupid mistaken pigheaded idea that ‘faith’ is 1) a good thing 2) morally superior 3) a sign of warmth and normality and all-around okayness; I’m sick of having religion dressed up as ‘faith’ as if that made it somehow less intrusive or coercive or obnoxious. I’m sick of it. It’s sentimental, it’s patronizing, it’s deceptive, and it implicitly denigrates rationality and critical thinking.
[T]he Bush plan was ensnared by constitutional questions about the separation between church and state, most notably whether an organization that received tax dollars can make hiring decisions on the basis of religion. As a candidate, Mr. Obama came down firmly against such hiring. But on Thursday, he will take a more nuanced position, saying that these issues should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
‘Nuanced’ – that’s more manipulation by wording, more ‘framing,’ more bullshit. Try that another way: ‘most notably whether an organization that received tax dollars can make hiring decisions on the basis of race. As a candidate, Mr. Obama came down firmly against such hiring. But on Thursday, he will take a more nuanced position.’ Maybe there are some issues on which we don’t want a more ‘nuanced’ position, maybe there are some issues where ‘nuance’ is just a sly way to bargain away other people’s rights. Consider this: an organization that can make hiring decisions on the basis of religion can exclude all women, because women’s subordination is religious doctrine for many ‘faith communities.’ Religious institutions are already exempt from various gender equality laws, meaning they are permitted to keep all-male clergy. That’s bad enough, and extending it to other kinds of hiring is worse. We don’t want nuance here, we want principle; we want Not One Step Farther; we want never again; we want equality is the law of the land. We want the state not to pay groups to treat some people as second-order citizens.
That approach will likely anger some on the left who were hoping for a clean break with the Bush policy. In a speech last July, Mr. Obama presented a more clear-cut view of how to draw the constitutional line. “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,” he said then. But the new approach will please people like David Kuo, who was deputy director of the Bush faith-based office.
Yes no doubt it will, but why should we want to please people like David Kuo? Why should we keep forcing ‘faith’ on everyone? Why can’t we have the other thing now?