White House names new advisors to faith-based office

By Michelle Boorstein Then-Senator Barack Obama speaks speaks to the media during his presidential campaign at Eastside Community Ministry in … Continued

By Michelle Boorstein


Then-Senator Barack Obama speaks speaks to the media during his presidential campaign at Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio, July 1, 2008. (Reuters)

The White House today named some of the new members of an advisory council that advises the president on partnerships between the government and faith-based non-profits.

The Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships is part of President Obama’s broad outreach to faith-based groups, a network of offices that includes a dozen branches in agencies from the Justice Department to Health and Human Services to International Development and other staff.

Among the newly named members:

Lynn Hybels, Co-founder and Advocate for Global Engagement at the Willow Creek Community Church

Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Read the full list here.

The first council of 25 members ended its term last year and the White House today released the names of 12 members of the second council. The other names are still being vetted. As it was last time, the list includes major names from the world of organized religion, including leaders of denominations (the spiritual heads of the Episcopal Church, the Greek Orthodox Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), advocacy groups (the head of the National Association of Evangelicals and past-president of a major group of Catholic nuns) and large non-profits (the president of United Way).

The last group attracted a lot of attention partially because the administration was new and Americans were eager for a sense of who Obama saw as his “advisors” on faith issues. Two years later it’s clear that group’s scope was extremely limited and the most broad, controversial issue, faith-based nonprofits, was taken off their table. (At issue was whether faith-based groups partnering with the government have the right to hire only people of their own faith.)

Officials said the new group – which will eventually be up to a full, 25-person roster – will continue to focus on the same priorities as the last group, which include: promoting fatherhood, boosting interfaith cooperation and above all, smoothing partnerships between faith-based and secular non-profit groups and the government. Such groups run a vast amount of social services in the United States.

Rather than be a direct pipeline for religious progressives to the president, as some religious conservatives feared, the office has adopted the conservative view on several contentious issues that come up in the non-profit world — a tact some see as a strategic way to be close to religious conservatives. The White House has left in place the Bush administration policy of letting groups discrimination on the basis of religion in hiring, for example.

The Obama administration has sought to tone down religious culture war issues and makes a display of how ideologically broad their advisory council members are. The White House also sought at the beginning of Obama’s term to differentiate itself from the Bush administration’s stated strategy of helping faith groups access money, emphasizing that funding is tight and faith-based groups would be primarily getting guidance. However, the scope and impact of the White House’s outreach isn’t yet clear. Politico did an interesting story a few months ago about the significant chunk of stimulus money that has gone to faith-based groups.

  • wiki-truth

    GOOD BYE OLD-TiME “10-TEN COMMANDMENTS”"!

  • detroitblkmale30

    “The White House has left in place the Bush administration policy of letting groups discrimination on the basis of religion in hiring, for example.”Bad writing on the post’s part. Not to mention the poor grammar. Not an accurate statement. The courts have consistently upheld these organizations right to hire those in keeping with their belief system, a right that secular groups enjoy. This is supposed to be news not an opinion piece right? A suggested edit “The White House has left in place the Bush administration policy of letting groups exercise their right to hire on the basis of religion, for example.”

  • eezmamata

    And DETROITBLKMALE30 gives us a fine example of Christian Politics 101 – the wordplay lab.Let’s try rephrasing some of the other ‘discriminations’ we’ve all been brought up to feel negatively about, maybe we can enhance our abilities to practice them and nobody will be the wiser.Letting groups exercise their right to hire on the basis of race.Yeah, that’s it. Discriminating against racially unsatisfactory people sounds bad, the rephrase sounds much better.Letting groups exercise their right to hire on the basis of sex.And boom, there goes the problem the feminists are always whining about. Discrimination based on sex is ugly, exercising a right to hire based on sex … why, who could complain about that?… right to hire on the basis of sexual orientation. Bamm, there goes that ‘homo’ problem, nobody would accuse you of being homophobic, you’re just exercising your right to hire on the basis of who’s boinking whom. Or what for that matter.So tell us, DETROITBLKMALE30, if you’re user id is descriptive, how much of a dance do you have to do in your mind to make your rephrasing of ‘discrimination against’ into the more palatable ‘discrimination for’ ?Are you sure you want people to start doing this?

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