Religious Supporters Cash in on Obama Promise

New president expands inherited Bush administration initiative

Saint John Coltrane Church? The Church of Scientology? Anton LaVey's Church of Satan?

These and other religious organizations in California will be able to feast on that manna known as taxpayer money through the White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships created by President Barack Obama.

Making good on campaign promises to expand access to federal funds for "faith-based organizations" first started under former president George W. Bush, Obama told the audience at the National Prayer Breakfast that he will sign the executive order creating the office today.

The grant money is only to be used for secular activities, such as food and shelter programs. 

There will be no proselytizing, we're assured. And programs funded by public money will not be able to hire and fire based on religious preference, unlike the Bush administration's policy.

Maybe not exactly the true separation of church and state that the band of heretic deists, freethinkers and masons who wrote the constitution might have intended. But it's progress of a kind.

And if there's one sacrament every American can believe in, it's the baptism of private corporations in the well of public wealth. Religious organizations have long been blessed with an exemption from taxes, under section 501(c)3 of the tax code.

Now there's that much more incentive to pick a faith and get in line for social service grants -- for acolytes of the Invsible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster, time to get your paperwork together.

Meanwhile, government-sponsored public aid projects that don't come with any denominational baggage whither under budget cuts from all directions.

For non-believers who supported Obama, they get the occassional mention in a speech such as the atheism of his father the president mentioned today.

Everyone else gets grants. It's enough to shake an Obama believer's faith that the man can change the political culture.

Jackson West is a freelance writer who believes in the transformative power of a good nap.

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