Eric Gorski’s got some more skinny on COFANP, and I can’t say it inspires confidence. Apparently there will be an advisory board composed of religious leaders and secular social service pros that will meet “at least twice a year,” for which purpose is unclear. The names of a few of the members have been dribbled out by Gorski’s source, “a religious leader familiar with the details.” These include a couple of prominent evangelicals–the past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the ever-present Joel Hunter–plus Rabbi David Saperstein, who if I were forced to put money on it would be my bet for the “religious leader familiar with the details.” Saperstein, the maitre d’ of all the major religious coalitions of the past two decades, has been a good deal in evidence in the opening days of the Obama administration, praying at the National Prayer Service, giving his hecksher to the CLURT “governing agenda.” Whatever, the source signaled that there would be a wide array of folks on the board, including representation from the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered community. SBL meets GLBT!
Gorski’s got his eye on the thorny hiring issue, and there it looks very much like the White House wants to finesse the issue. As in:
It remains unclear whether the Obama administration will rescind executive orders from then-President George W. Bush that allowed religious groups that get government money to hire only those who share their religious beliefs.
However, the religious leader knowledgeable of the plans for the revamped office said: “You can do a lot of things without rescinding those orders. That’s not a necessary step to make changes.”
I have no idea what that means, but in the meantime, it looks as though SCHIP is going to sail through with the faith-based hiring waivers intact. Bear in mind that the CLURT agenda includes just such a waiver in its “common ground” position opposing discrimination against gays in hiring. (In other words, the faith-based community says, all you secular people have to hire gays but we don’t.) And here’s Gorski’s quote from the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who just doesn’t want churches to have to change their “bylaws” about hiring gay people in order to qualify for federal grants:
“I believe it’s not practical and it’s not going to happen — and the president knows the backlash from the faith community would be egregious,” Rodriguez said. “To push the envelope on that, to say, for example, ‘You’re going to have to hire gays and lesbians’ … that would be unprecedented.”
So consider the following possibility. Via one of the state social service offices, a church gets federal money to set up an after-school tutoring program. It advertises for tutors, saying you must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and by the way, you can’t be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgendered. What changes will be made, without changing the Bush orders, so that won’t happen?