HAS OBAMA RENEGED ON A PROMISE TO EVANGELICALS?

In a post at HuffPo, Tony Campolo, the minister and "Red Letter Christian" who served on the platform committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, claims that on the eve of the election, to quell evangelical anxiety, Obama promised that he would not reverse the Bush-era rule permitting recipients of federal faith-based funds to discriminate in hiring. Obama had promised he'd reverse the rule on the campaign trail, so in the tete-a-tetes that Campolo claims took place, Obama would have been contradicting that promise.

When he did create the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships last month, he took a somewhat middle ground, ordering that instances of possible discrimination would be referred for legal review on a case-by-case basis.

But now Campolo says that an Obama "counselor" has signaled that the rule might well be reversed, much to the consternation of the evangelicals Obama worked so hard to assuage:

During the days leading up to the November election, there were numerous telephone conversations between Obama's political strategists and the leaders of some of the largest faith-based organizations in the country. To still the anxieties of these leaders, word was sent down on the eve of the election giving assurances that if no fuss was made by drawing attention to these problems, the policies that were in place on these matters during the Bush Administration would be continued. The message, according to one Christian leader, was that Obama himself had communicated this to him.

Now, weeks after the election, there comes, loud and clear, from a counselor to the President, that such assurances were not for real, and that the promised money will not be given for social programs to religious organizations that discriminate against gays or those who are not in harmony with their religious beliefs. This appears to be a betrayal of what was heard prior to Election Day.

Campolo isn't clear who that counselor is, or what the statement specifically was. But he strongly suggests that Obama has sold out these faith-based leaders, and they're not happy.

--Sarah Posner

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