Saturday, September 25, 2010
If the White House office of faith-based initiatives is going to be used as propaganda unit, it might as well be shut down.
I was George W. Bush's director of faith-based initiatives. Imagine what would have happened had I proposed that he use that office to urge thousands of religious leaders to become "validators" of the Iraq War?
I can tell you two things that would have happened immediately. First, President Bush would have fired me—and rightly so—for trying to politicize his faith-based office. Second, the American media would have chased me into the foxhole Saddam Hussein had vacated.
Yet on Tuesday President Obama and his director of faith-based initiatives convened exactly such a meeting to try to control political damage from the unpopular health-care law. "Get out there and spread the word," Politico.com reported the president as saying on a conference call with leaders of faith-based and community groups. "I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what's now available to them." Since then, there's been nary a peep from the press.
With nothing else working, President Barack Obama is asking religious leaders to help him sell the public on health care reform.
POLITICO listened in to an Oval Office conference call Tuesday, where Obama and top administration officials, beseeched thousands of faith-based and community organizations to preach the gospel on new insurance reforms, chiefly the Patients’ Bill of Rights. ...
Get out there and spread the word,” Obama told leaders from across the religious spectrum on the conference call. ... Obama instructed faith leaders to treat the new law as settled fact and use their perches of power to convey that message to congregants and friends. “The debate in Washington is over, the Affordable Care Act is now law ... I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what’s now available to them,” he said. ...The White House sees the faith-based community as a key partner in spreading information on health reform issues. "We believe community-based and faith-based can spread the word," an administration official told POLITICO. "They are reaching people every day in churches, synagogues, mosques and secular organizations. They can spread the word about these things."
IRS resources on political activities by charities and churches:
- Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations (Publication 1828, Nov. 2009)
- Charities, Churches, and Educational Organizations -- Political Campaign Intervention (Sept. 17, 2010)
- Charities, Churches and Politics (July 12, 2007)
- IRS Reminds Charities and Churches of Political Activity Ban (Nov. 20, 2009)
- On-Line Educational Resources -- Political Campaign Intervention by 501(c)(3) Organizations (Sept. 24, 2010)