obamajuly2.jpgDALLAS - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s promise on Tuesday of a more robust approach to faith-based social programs has been blasted from the left and the right — and raised some pointed questions from academia.

But it has also won support from the religious left and centrists, the groups it is aimed at as the Obama campaign seeks to woo wavering evangelicals.

Obama unveiled the plan in Ohio, pledging to beef up the faith-based community programs pioneered by President George W. Bush.

On the left, Americans United for Separation of Church and State decried Obama’s promise to expand it, saying : “Rather than try to correct the defects of the Bush ‘faith-based’ initiative, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would do better to shut it down.”

Obama did lay down one rule in his speech that has drawn some comment. He said: “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”