Not many policy proposals from the 1990s can be trotted out a decade later in almost exactly the same form. But Barack Obama’s plan to launch his own faith-based initiative closely echoes proposals endorsed years ago by Al Gore and George W. Bush. John DiIulio, one of the godfathers of the initiative and the first director of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (DiIulio soon concluded the office was just for political show), said Obama’s plan reminds him “of much that was best in both then–vice president Al Gore’s and then–Texas governor George W. Bush’s respective first speeches on the subject in 1999.”
The faith-based initiative has always been fine in concept. Many social services in this country are already provided by faith-based and other nongovernmental groups, and it makes sense to encourage their activity and find ways for the government to partner with civic organizations that are doing creative work.