When Barack Obama recently promised that if elected, he would embrace President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative and build upon it. As a Democrat who directed this initiative for over four years in the Bush White House, I applaud his good intentions.

Indeed, the beneficiaries of Bush's policy extend across the country and continents. More than 200,000 addicts have been helped through the innovative "Access to Recovery" treatment program, and ex-prisoners participating in Bush's novel re-entry program return to prison at rates less than half the national average. The widely acclaimed global AIDS relief program has transformed the lives of millions.

Here at home, thousands of religious charities have received grants to help the hurting — from the Empowerment Program in Denver that helps ex-offenders successfully re-enter society to the Community Kitchen in Loveland, which provides free, hot meals each day to individuals in need.

While Obama's faith-based platform promises more federal spending, it bears bad news for groups ranging from the Salvation Army to Orthodox Jewish social service organizations.

This is because Obama wants to abandon President Bush's — and President Clinton's — efforts to protect the right to hire on a religious basis of faith-based charities that provide taxpayer-funded social services.

Obama visited Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California last weekend, a Southern Baptist organization on the front lines of helping individuals in need at home and around the globe. Saddleback would rather disband than submit to governmental approval on hiring.

In Colorado, faith-based organizations like Denver Rescue Mission receive federal funds through city and state grants to help the homeless. Prior to the Faith-Based and Community Initiative, federal regulations barred many of these organizations from receiving government dollars to serve Colorado communities. But my guess is that the proposed Obama policy would be a deal-breaker for them and other religious groups, not to mention many African-American churches. Telling church and synagogue groups that they cannot hire people who share their vision and mission risks sapping their life-saving programs of their effectiveness.