The ACLU has just issued a one-year assessment of the Obama administration’s actions on civil liberties, called “America Unrestored.” As the title indicates, Obama has not been all that good for abolishing Bush-era disgraces. There have been some symbolic acts, yes, but by and large, having centrist Democrats in power seems to mean a halting or slowing down of deterioration, not substantial improvement.
Before the 2008 elections, I expressed distrust of Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, where secularism and church-state separation was concerned. So far I seem to be more right than wrong. Yes, Obama has been decent about symbolic acknowledgement of nonbelievers. And many nonbelievers seem to be absurdly grateful about this. (For example, the AHA: “Humanists Applaud President Obama for Including Nontheists in Religious Freedom Day.”) But that just fits this president’s pattern of giving pretty speeches and doing nothing or worse when it comes to delivering substance. Take the most important breach in the wall separating church and state of recent times: faith-based initiatives. Here’s what the ACLU report has to say about the present administration and funneling money to faith-based organizations:
The Obama administration has not acted on these recommendations. In fact, as a result of economic stimulus spending, even more money is being disbursed using Bush-era government-funded religion rules. The only official action in the area of freedom of belief was the creation of a federal advisory committee – the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships – that is comprised mainly of religious leaders. This committee was created without first repealing Bush-era rules allowing federally funded religious organizations to apply religious hiring tests to employees.
I’m tempted to make nasty comments to those of my friends who were taken in by all the “hope” and “change” bullshit in 2008. Still, confirmed cynicism remains cold comfort.