By Michelle Boorstein
UPDATE: 1:18 P.M.:
President Obama signed an executive order today to tweak the rules governing how faith-based social service groups do business with the government. The changes are meant to please church-state people on both sides of the ideological spectrum but still sidestep the most explosive, unresolved issue: whether such groups can discriminate in who they hire.
The changes are among those recommended by an independent panel Obama picked to advise him on church-state issues. The panel, which has since been disbanded, made its recommendations in March.
From the White House, the key provisions of the order:
Comments from religious leaders:
I just spoke with Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance and a member of the president’s task force reviewing these church-state issues, who said the executive order “is a significant step forward which can be applauded with caution. I don’t think anyone concerned about civil rights and discrimination can be elated about an executive order that doesn’t address the religious hiring issue.”
Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and a member of the President’s Advisory Council:
“I am very pleased with the Executive Order which President Obama has issued today. The Order adopts all of the key principles and recommendations that our Council put before the President. The Order thus champions fundametal constitutional principles, protects the religious liberties of individuals and promotes the effective and important partnerships the Federal government has with faith-based organizations.”
“Through this Executive Order, and the ongoing efforts of the White House’s ‘faith-based initiative,’ President Obama has advanced America’s social welfare sector and protected constitutional principles.”