When he became President, Barack Obama promised us that his would be the most open Presidency in history. He would end the secrecy of the Bush Administration, he said, and let Americans see what their government would be doing, in order to keep the government honest.
Well, big promises come easy from President Obama. What doesn’t come so easily from Obama is action to follow through on those promises. So, I thought I’d check up and see how much government openness Barack Obama has actually created.
I chose a controversial area in which government openness really matters: What Obama calls “faith-based initiatives”, but really amount to government-funded religious programs. George W. Bush invented the White House Office of Government Religion – a clearly unconstitutional act – but Barack Obama, instead of abolishing the program, expanded it. Obama promised to reform the religious programs of the federal government, to end their taxpayer-funded religious discrimination, but no such reforms have taken place.
So, what has Barack Obama’s White House Office of Government Religion been doing? Which religious groups has it been funding? What other relgious groups has it been assisting in non-financial ways? Have certain religions been given preference over others? I thought I’d go directly to the source to find out, and look to see what information Obama’s religious White House office has to say about its activities.
It turns out that Barack Obama’s White House Office of Government Religion (search for “White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships”) isn’t sharing any information about its activities. That’s in spite of the extra funding the religious office is being given in the Omnibus Appropriations Act currently under debate, and in spite of President Obama’s appointment of an advisory council to the office weeks ago. Reverend Joshua DuBois, the head of the White House Office of Government Religion comes directly from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, where he worked to convince churches to illegally campaign for Obama, promising them that religious groups would have continued special access to White House power through the Office of Government Religion.
But, for all that, and for all Barack Obama’s promises about open government, the White House Office of Government Religion isn’t talking. Like the Bush-Cheney Energy Commission, it’s operating in secret, and It isn’t telling the American people about its activities.
Starting in November of 2002, President George W. Bush provided information about his government’s religious programs on a web site at www.fbci.gov. You can go back and look at the web site as it was during that time using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
President Bush’s web site for information about government religion was misleading and only gave partial information about the federal government’s religious programs. Under President Obama, however, the White House Office of Government Religion doesn’t even have a web site at all. Go to fbci.gov and you’ll be redirected to a general White House web page, Our Government, which has nothing to do with the White House Office of Government Religion.
There is no place at all in any of the Obama Administration’s web sites at which citizens can find out about the activities of the Office of Government Religion and its “faith-based initiatives”.
When it comes to Barack Obama’s unconstitutional efforts to mix church and state, Barack Obama is even more secretive than George W. Bush was. Obama has broken his promises of open government, and I want to know: Just what is it about his government’s religious programs is it that Barack Obama is trying to hide?