dubois.jpgA Presidential insider takes up the work of faith-based initiatives for the Obama administration, it was announced on February 5th. The 26 year old Princeton grad, Joshua DuBois (also a BU alum) will lead a restructured office which got its sea legs in the Bush administration but had its antecedants in prior administrations of government. He is a Pentecostal pastor. Known to be charismatic and bright, DuBois will be assisting faith groups navigate federal funding policies while having the ear of the President. According to the White House Press Office,

“The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will focus on four key priorities, to be carried out by working closely with the President’s Cabinet Secretaries and each of the eleven agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships:

-The Office’s top priority will be making community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete.

-It will be one voice among several in the administration that will look at how we support women and children, address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion.

-The Office will strive to support fathers who stand by their families, which involves working to get young men off the streets and into well-paying jobs, and encouraging responsible fatherhood.

-Finally, beyond American shores this Office will work with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.

“The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will include a new President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, composed of religious and secular leaders and scholars from different backgrounds. There will be 25 members of the Council, appointed to 1-year terms.

Members of the Council include:

Judith N. Vredenburgh

, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America
Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi David N. Saperstein

, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and noted church/state expert
Washington, DC

Dr. Frank S. Page

, President emeritus, Southern Baptist Convention
Taylors, SC

Father Larry J. Snyder

, President, Catholic Charities USA
Alexandria, VA

Rev. Otis Moss, Jr.

, Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Eboo S. Patel

, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Corps
Chicago, IL

Fred Davie

, President, Public / Private Ventures, a secular non-profit intermediary
New York, NY

Dr. William J. Shaw

, President, National Baptist Convention, USA
Philadelphia, PA

Melissa Rogers

, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs and expert on church/state issues
Winston-Salem, NC

Pastor Joel C. Hunter

, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed
Lakeland, FL

Dr. Arturo Chavez

, Ph.D., President & CEO, Mexican American Cultural Center
San Antonio, TX

Rev. Jim Wallis

, President & Executive Director, Sojourners
Washington, DC

Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie

, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church
Knoxville, TN

Diane Baillargeon

, President & CEO, Seedco, a secular national operating intermediary
New York, NY

Richard Stearns

, President, World Vision
Bellevue, WA

All are interesting choices and all seem to be leaders in their respective faith traditions or organizations. I wonder if this group can work with the faith groups across the spectra and not just the people who follow their particular brand of faith. Two members of the Council are Catholics (one being a priest) and they are seemingly on the left side of the Church. THE common thread which unites this group is experience in community organizing, just like the President. I look forward to seeing the fruit of their labors. Dealing with the secularists is not going to be easy even for the theologically left of center people chosen for the Council.

Regarding the mandate to “address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion” I wonder just how this goal is going to be accomplished. It sounds fishy to me as I don’t trust the double-speak of President Obama when it comes to protecting life. He certainly has not demonstrated that pro-life matters are part of his makeup. In fact, the opposite is true: Obama has stepped on the pro-life efforts of reasonable people of all faiths.