Conservatives slammed it as “anti-religious”—but in fact, some $140 million from President Obama’s stimulus package has gone to faith-based organizations. The money “kind of fell from the sky, and it was unbelievable,” says the head of a church-backed nonprofit. But the matter has gone under the radar, “perhaps because it cuts so sharply across the moment's intensely partisan narrative,” write Ben Smith and Byron Tau at Politico.
The stimulus “has been Exhibit A” in conservatives’ “case against the Obama administration,” Smith and Tau note, yet giving public money to “faith-based initiatives” was, “not long ago, a conservative priority,” as evidenced by George W. Bush. The “anti-religious” claims about the stimulus were based on restrictions to only a “small fraction” of funds. Now criticism is running the other way, attacked by activists as blurring the line between church and state.