Obama Faith Council Debates Religious Icons

By William Wan Obama’s faith council is finalizing its draft report this week, and one of the key debates that … Continued

By William Wan

Obama’s faith council is finalizing its draft report this week, and one of the key debates that emerged from the phone conference yesterday was whether there should be rules requiring religious groups to cover up religious symbols if they receive federal funding for services. For example, if a church gets money for a soup kitchen, would it have to remove or put a cloth over all crosses, pictures, etc., every time it gets ready to feed the hungry?

That sparked a lively debate among council members that largely dominated yesterday’s two-hour teleconference. Melissa Rogers, director of Wake Forest’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs, who is leading the group tasked with solving such church-state issues laid ouit three possibilities the council could recommend:
1. Making such religious icons not allowed for federally funded services.
2. Allowing it only if no other religious neutral rooms are available and covering up such icons is impratical.
3. Not requiring removal of such icons but encouraging religious orgs to be sensitive about the issue.

That led to a lengthy debate from which no clear consensus emerged. As the council’s various taskforces finish up their reports, some thorny issues like this look like they’ll require footnotes or majority/minority opinion sections (ala supreme court).

The other significant news that emerged from the teleconference yesterday was that Rogers has been chosen by the group to be its official chairwoman and to coordinate the finalizing of the final report as the various taskforces wrap up their work.


  • MisterBeee1

    When are people going to WAKE UP! There is nothing, NOTHING in the U.S. Constitution that separates the government from religion. There is a statement in the first amendment that disallows the federal government from establishing one particular religion over other religions. They cannot say, for example, that the Methodist faith is the official religion of the United States, or that the Jewish faith is the official religion, etc. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that keeps the federal government from recognizing that we are a nation “under God” and from recognizing that religion in general, our faith in God is the backbone of this nation; as intended by our founding fathers. It is only he ploy of godless people who want to make “separation of church and state” a non-factual reality. Men and women of faith: we out number these godless people. We need to take back this nation as “One Nation, Under God”, by our voices and our votes.

  • cjmorley

    Please explain to me why President Obama, has a faith council? Should it not read Non-Faith council, or how about Distruction of Faith council. As the writer above stated, there is nothing in the Constitution that refers to the government separation. In my opinion because the president and his is so involved with this, they are not seperating church and state. They are making it the government’s business. That to me is a violation of the Constitution. That’s breaking the law.

  • SHeriger

    I find it hard to fathom the idiocy of suggesting that a faith organization should cover up its icons while serving the poor simply because the government gave it some money. The constitution promised freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. As long as no faith-based organization is discriminated against in the disbursement of those funds, why would any fair and reasonable person have a problem with it?As a Christian and a member of a free, pluralistic society, I fully expect to be exposed to, and sometimes offended by the actions of other, while fully supporting their right to those actions (assuming they’re legal, or course). What offends me more is the current administration’s move to remove any sign of faith from anything touched by government. As long as the government isn’t creating a state religion, there’s nothing in the constitution that would require an NGO or faith-based organization to hide their icons. It’s ludicrous that someone would even suggest something so stupid.

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