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Obama Delivers Remarks on Faith

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Democrat Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups. Video by AP

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008; 5:56 PM

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: ... a particular meaning for me, because, in a way, they are what led me to public service. It was a Catholic group called the Campaign for Human Development that helped in part funded the work I did many years ago in Chicago to help lift neighborhoods that were devastated by the closure of a local steel plant.

Now, I didn't grow up in a particularly religious household, but my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life and an anchor in the community. In time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community, that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the lord's work.

Now, there are millions of Americans who share a similar view of their faith, who feel they have an obligation to help others. And they're making a difference in communities all across this country, through initiatives like Ready4Work, which is helping ensure that ex- offenders don't return to a life of crime; or Catholic Charities, which is feeding the hungry and making sure we don't have homeless veterans sleeping on the streets of cities like Chicago; or the good work that's being done by a coalition of religious groups to rebuild New Orleans.

You see, while these groups are often made up of people who've come together around a common faith, they're usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all. And they're particularly well-placed to offer help.

As I've said many times, I believe that change comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, our synagogues, our temples, and our mosques.

And that's why Washington needs to draw on them. The fact is, the challenges we face today -- from saving our planet to ending poverty -- are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach.


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