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January 28, 2009

Report: Obama Plans to Pick Pastor for Faith-Based Initiatives Position

President Obama plans to tap Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old Pentecostal pastor and director of religious outreach for the campaign, to direct the office of faith-based initiatives, according to The New York Times.

Reporter Laurie Goodstein writes that DuBois consulted with dozens of religious and charity groups about the faith-based office.

The most contentious issue that Mr. DuBois will have to help resolve is whether Mr. Obama should rescind a Bush administration legal memorandum that allows religious groups that receive government money to hire only those who share their faith.

Mr. Obama said in a campaign speech last June, "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."

Dan Gilgoff has also written about the meetings with religious leaders during the transition period. Gilgoff recently wrote that the people continuing on with the administration will include DuBois, Mara Vanderslice, and Mark Linton.

DuBois played a large role in the campaign on the religion front, often keeping in regular touch with people like Jim Wallis, Joel Hunter, and Donald Miller. I heard hints of his appointment when I spoke with several religious leaders last week, including Hunter who said that DuBois had an active relationships with many in religious leadership.

From my perspective his credibility has grown, he has several good assistants now, his confidence has grown. He's always been very responsive to me. I do think this is one of those things that you kind of grow into. You go along and learn and if you pick up and start to become conversant with several religious leaders then you gain confidence and credibility, and I think that's what's happening with Joshua.

DuBois faced some large challenges in the campaign, first when false rumors flew that Obama is a Muslim and then when YouTube videos of Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright emerged. Overall, he could be attributed to helping shrink the so-called God Gap, as Steve Waldman wrote after the election.

For more on DuBois, Michael Paulson wrote one of the best profiles for the Boston Globe last summer.

I watched DuBois work at the Democratic National Convention in August. He was very energetic, eager to network with any and every religious leader, but very cautious with the press. Everything we talked about had to go through a public relations team. When I first worked on a story on the Democrats' faith outreach, it took me several weeks to reach him. After I mentioned this problem to a source, I got a call very quickly.

"I'm certainly not a theologian, but there are fundamentals I know to be true. The foundations of my faith are in Jesus Christ and in his teachings, especially addressing the needs of the least of these," DuBois said. "That's certainly a model for me, and that's how I'm hoping to approach my work on the campaign."

DuBois said that while Obama's personal faith (Obama is a member of a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago) shapes his approach to issues, the senator is a firm believer that church and state should be separated.

"Our democracy demands that when people are religiously motivated," DuBois said, "you have to translate your [policy] concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values. We're no longer just a Christian nation; we're also a Jewish nation, a Hindu nation, a Muslim nation, and a nation that does not adhere to a particular religion."

DuBois always seemed very eager to appeal to every religious group. Now the only thing left to do is get all religions to agree on a universal value.

Comments

I always find it interesting to note how individuals like DuBois seem to find a way to boil the teachings of Christ down to helping the poor. That was certainly a major theme of Jesus and an incredibly important task, but if one is going to sum up the majority of His message you would have to say it is on the Kingdom of Heaven. All of Christ's teachings on poverty fit under the heading of the Kingdom, but seeing them as the main thrust of who Christ claimed to be does a disservice to the Gospels account of the Messiah.

So Obama is going to pick an individual that is going to cater to all relgions. Is that the way a CHRISTIAN is suppose to act. Jesus loved people and he came to show us where we had gone wrong. We as christians love the people but dispise the the act in which people are involved in. So if he is going to pick some to lead this nation ins ome type of faith based Initiatives he needs to pick a person that is lead by Jesus not man

That was certainly a major theme of Jesus and an incredibly important task, but if one is going to sum up the majority of His message you would have to say it is on the Kingdom of Heaven.

I think to a certain degree American no longer know who they are or the statistics we read or hear are false. i heard on God TV, that America is probably 60% christian. If that is correct why is it that most Christians in particular America seem to be apologetic about their faith.
I thought democracy is when the majority rules. Or its no longer the case.
It seems the rights of the minority supersedes those of the majority.

No doubt Obama won because of his religious brothers. Running a campaign is not a problem anymore if your a member of a religious group. In that way maybe Obama got advantage from bush. =D

I agree with skin moles. This must be Obama's secret =P I'm kind of impressed. I didn't realize that he is religious.

To Skin Tags,

truly, in my opinion he is much more religious than Bush Junior. Obama's mom as I read from his biography was very religious woman.

I too think the statistics are false. that is just my opinion