Bahai News - TIME'S Tamala Edwards on faith-based initiatives
TIME'S Tamala Edwards on faith-based initiatives
Tamala Edwards is a panelist on CNN's Take 5. She is a New York-based
senior writer for TIME magazine, covering politics, society and breaking
CNN: Welcome to CNN.com Newsroom Tam Edwards. Thanks for joining us today.
TAMALA EDWARDS: Hey! Glad to be here!
CNN: President Bush's so-called "faith-based" initiative passed in the House
yesterday. In their bill, how would such a plan be implemented?
EDWARDS: Well, first, they need to get through the Senate, and that's going
to be hard. The Senate is controlled by Democrats, who are skeptical about
the bill, particularly provisions that allow faith-based groups to
discriminate against people of other religions or certain lifestyles, like
homosexuality. But, if the bill does finally get through the Senate, what
will be interesting is to see what happens in conference, where the House
and the Senate try to reconcile their bills. The Senate version would
probably be more liberal than the House version, and J.C. Watts, a Republican
in the House who got other Republicans to vote for it, would have to make
good on his promise to moderate the House version in conference.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: In the bill, who has the responsibility to maintain
clear separation of church and state?
EDWARDS: That's a great question. That has not been finalized. Probably what
would happen if the law passed, is you would see lawsuits that get to the
Supreme Court over the provision delineating whether or not the law would
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Tamala, do you think the "faith-based" funds will be
distributed equally to all religions, or just Christian-based?
EDWARDS: It's hard to tell, until the law is implemented. The Bush
administration says they'd administer it fairly, but one would imagine
that probably Christian and Jewish groups would be more likely to get
larger shares of the pie, than say people of the Bahai faith. That's
likely to be another source of contention. That gets into the question
of what is a legitimate religion, and could someone just start up a
"religion" and then receive funding.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Isn't it true that church and state is a non-issue
because the government is not sponsoring a religion?
EDWARDS: No, it's still an issue if the federal government is giving
funds to religious groups for social programs, rather than leaving it in
completely private hands.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: With federal money, comes accountability and control.
How will Christian groups, particularly, give aid without recruiting new
worshipers? And wouldn't that violate the Constitution?
EDWARDS: Again, what is so tough is that we're at the beginning of the
process. Until we have a final bill, and it's implemented, we won't
really know. We would imagine there will be some things in the final
bill that call for aid to be dispersed in a non-discriminatory way. But
in terms of hiring, already we see groups tipping their hand that they
are going to be very specific in who they do and don't want on staff.
It's not clear to me if you can regulate that, and how.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Is opposition ready with legal briefs to challenge the
faith-based bill if it passes?
EDWARDS: I don't know, but I would guess yes.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Is the courtship of the Hispanic vote by Bush an open
concession that he will not have the Black vote in any election? Why
have the Republicans failed so miserably?
EDWARDS: I don't think Bush sees it as an either/or. All projections show
that the Latino vote will be very important in 2004, and both parties would
be wise to court them. At the same time, I expect Bush to also try to win
over black voters, even though he and his advisers will probably count on
low turnout. They won't build their house on that sand. But if you look at
some of his appointments in places like the Justice Department, it's clear
that he's appointing high level African Americans, and I'm sure that's
meant to send a message to that community.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Tamala, shouldn't Colin Powell's appointment as the first
African American secretary of state help gain black votes for Republicans?
EDWARDS: Absolutely. As Powell continues to have a very visible role,
and remains a popular politician, and actively campaigns for the
president in the next election, it should help him with black voters,
and indeed voters of all races.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: But don't you think Colin Powell has been rejected by
the majority of black voters as a non-representative figure?
EDWARDS: Is he a figure of the old civil rights establishment? No. But if
you look at figures, it shows blacks, particularly younger blacks, are
leaning more towards being independent, rather than affiliated with either
party. I think that many of them are open to being persuaded by Powell.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: What do you think of the new law replacing affirmative
action in California for the UC system whereby the top 12 percent of any
school can go to UC from community college?
EDWARDS: I'm not surprised. The UC board had made clear that they were
looking for a way to take race and class and other things into consideration.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Hi Tam, when it has been a busy news week, how are the
topics of the show chosen?
EDWARDS: The same way every week. There's a big conference call. All
week long, people send in ideas. On Friday, we pick final topics.
CNN: Any final thoughts for us today?
EDWARDS: Thanks for chatting, and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow
night on Take Five!
CNN: Thanks for joining us today, Tam Edwards.
EDWARDS: Thank you!
Tamala Edwards joined the CNN.com Newsroom via telephone from New York.
CNN provided a typist for her. The above is an edited transcript of the
interview on Friday, July 20, 2001.
©Copyright 2001, Cable News Network
Page last updated/revised 072401
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