Tag Archives: Faith Based Initiatives

Obama’s new rules for Faith-Based Initiatives

President Barack Obama.jpgPresident Obama revised 2001 faith based initiatives established by President George W. Bush with “Fundamental Principles and Policymaking Criteria for Partnerships with Faith-Based and Other Neighborhood Organizations” on November 17, 2010.

Catholic organizations like Catholic Charities, hospitals, clinics, assisted living organizations, adoption agencies would do well to review their policies and practices to see if the present policies cohere with what the President has set down in the executive order since there are some serious potential conflicts. Serious points of contention will likely be around the providing of religious services, counseling rooted in faith and to what degree you can apply pastoral practice to the workings of the agency. The secularists are already jumping for joy with the new amendments because they want more restrictive policies and stringent policies of accountability for the use of monies and practices by faith-based organizations. Having said all this, though, clarity of what can and cannot be done are helpful since they establish rules of engagement. Clear to all reasonable minded people, religious freedom needs to be respected. And we Catholics will hear more about religious freedom in 2011 with Pope Benedict addressing the issue of religious freedom at significant events like world youth day. The Pope is very clear that we propose and not impose our faith in Christ, even with those who claim to be Christians.

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The faith-based initiative of the Admin

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.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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