Why is this happening now? I'll tell you below:
President Bush ordered the Department of Homeland Security yesterday to create a center for faith-based and community initiatives within 45 days to eliminate regulatory, contracting and programmatic barriers to providing federal funds to religious groups to deliver social services, the White House announced last night....
This is happening now because Karl Rove knows that America is angry about the administration's Katrina response, and he wants to change what we talk about when we talk about Katrina -- not adminstration incompetence, but liberal "hostility to religion." He wants us liberals to get riled up about this, then he wants the administration and right-wing opinion-mongers to attack us for getting riled up.
It's easy to tell that this is a reaction to recent events (the release of pre-Katrina briefing videos, ever worsening Katrina poll numbers) -- if it weren't, why didn't it happen months ago?
Being the party in Washington that didn't screw up Katrina is a plus for congressional Democrats, and Karl Rove is doing what he always does -- he's attacking his opponents by going after their strength. If he blunts the Democrats' advantage on Katrina, maybe Republicans win in November.
So, yes, it angers me that the administration is looking to bang a few more holes in the wall of separation between church and state. But it angers me even more that Rove and the Bushies are looking at the ongoing Katrina debacle and focusing most intently on how they can make political hay out of it.