Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Good (Bipartisan) Sign

For a Red Tory, perhaps the most attractive policy in the world is for the government to effectively partner with religious organizations to help the poor and dispossessed. Canada has always, it seems to me, been better at doing this than our southern neighbours. Perhaps as a result of the extreme church-state separation theory that has been influential in America, US governments had a strong tendency to try and replicate what churches and ministries were already doing, rather than supporting and working with them. George Bush's faith-based initiative was a strong step forward, but didn't succeed as well as many hoped. Still, reasons for hope abound:
Hillary Clinton has declared that there is no contradiction between “support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles.” John McCain has supported the idea especially as it relates to improving educational programs for disadvantaged children. Barack Obama describes faith-based programs as a “uniquely powerful way of solving problems” especially where former prisoners and substance abusers are concerned. When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney created his own faith-based office.
Perhaps more importantly, Kuo and DiIulio report that faith-based initiatives are spreading on the local level:
Increasingly, governors and mayors, with or without Washington’s help, are on the case. Since 2001, governors by the dozens and over a hundred mayors have started faith-based initiatives on their own. In numerous places, the initiatives have persisted through changes in administrations and party control — further evidence for the emerging political consensus in favor of using public dollars to support faith-based organizations. The ideological disputes that infect inside-the-Beltway debates over the separation of church and state have little life in cities where what gets accomplished (or not) in juvenile justice, health care and other social services is a visible, life-and-death drama.
Good to see Americans become more sensible- like their Canadian cousins.

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