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February 5, 2009

Obama Signs Executive Order on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

President Obama signed an executive order establishing the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

As expected, Obama named Joshua DuBois as the head of the office. The order says the office will look to "reduce the need for abortion." The office's top priority will be making community groups an important part of economic recovery and reducing poverty. The office will also encourage responsible fatherhood and work with the National Security Council to allow interfaith dialogue around the world.

Evangelicals on an advisory council include Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, Frank S. Page, President emeritus of the Southern Baptist Convention, Joel C. Hunter, Pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, and Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners.

The full press release is below:

Washington (February 5, 2009) ? President Barack Obama today signed an executive order establishing the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will work on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs.

"Over the past few days and weeks, there has been much talk about what our government's role should be during this period of economic emergency. That is as it should be ? because there is much that government can and must do to help people in need," said President Obama. "But no matter how much money we invest or how sensibly we design our policies, the change that Americans are looking for will not come from government alone. There is a force for good greater than government. It is an expression of faith, this yearning to give back, this hungering for a purpose larger than our own, that reveals itself not simply in places of worship, but in senior centers and shelters, schools and hospitals, and any place an American decides."

The White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will be a resource for nonprofits and community organizations, both secular and faith based, looking for ways to make a bigger impact in their communities, learn their obligations under the law, cut through red tape, and make the most of what the federal government has to offer.

President Obama appointed Joshua DuBois, a former associate pastor and advisor to the President in his U.S. Senate office and campaign Director of Religious Affairs, to lead this office. "Joshua understands the issues at stake, knows the people involved, and will be able to bring everyone together ? from both the secular and faith-based communities, from academia and politics ? around our common goals," said President Obama.

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.

As the priorities of this Office are carried out, it will be done in a way that upholds the Constitution ? by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values. The separation of church and state is a principle President Obama supports firmly ? not only because it protects our democracy, but also because it protects the plurality of America's religious and civic life. The Executive Order President Obama will sign today strengthens this by adding a new mechanism for the Executive Director of the Office to work through the White House Counsel to seek the advice of the Attorney General on difficult legal and constitutional issues.

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

Comments

Pray they don't become a hireling to Obama or any political institute. All that politicians are looking for is to take advantage of their use with carrots and sugar-coating - for their power, pleasure and power.

They have nothing to do with faith. Theirs is nothing more than hypocrites' show to entice the gullible people looking for a savior.

Please don't chant the mantra 'God bless America' - He finds no reason to bless it.

Politics and economy are the major ones Satan plays actively, blinding our spiritual eyes as well.

You have got to be Kidding me, a Trillion dollar stimulus plan and this also???

You have got to be Kidding me, a Trillion dollar stimulus plan and this also???

I know the big question lurking in this for many is whether faith-based groups will still be allowed to hire based on religious criteria. That is, can a Christian group restrict their staff to confessing Christians who affirm a similar reading of scripture (particularly around sexual morality?)

bmhowell,
Thanks for your comment. It sounds like each grant will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Since the World Vision president is on the advisory council, it looks like several organizations who hire based on religious criteria will be at least considered. Here's a more detailed story:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/februaryweb-only/105-53.0.html

Sarah Pulliam, online editor

John,
It doesn't sound like the office will receive a larger budget than the Bush administration's office. So Obama would have either had to abolish the office (which may have done damage politically) or maintain it the way it is. See more in this story about the budget: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/februaryweb-only/105-52.0.html


Sarah Pulliam, online editor

I would hope that if an organization is receiving taxpayer money, the organization is hiring and serving people without regard to "religious criteria," which is apparently the new code phrase for "discriminate against the Gay/GLBT community," right?

You take Gay tax money, you take Gay people...money always has strings attached, so why be surprised?

That organization would be missing out on lot of talent, love, empathy and compassion if they did discriminate, condemn and segregate. While Gay people will do as people do, good, bad and gray area, "Gay" does make life a little more interesting.

And, diversity within the organization would help avoid "group think" and "echo chamber" responses that could limit its effectiveness to the community it serves.

Besides, there are a lot of GLBT Christians around, despite the abuse they get from religious conservatives, and, while I won't speak for them, I'm guessing that many would also like to serve God by serving others in established organizations.

I have to admit, the thought of gay vs straight never crossed my mind until Mr. Peterson's comment. Honestly! Does everything have to revert to that?? I am so sick of hearing their paranoia and propaganda it is causing me to go from listening to them to just wishing they would shut up and go back to their closet. I have gay family whom I love dearly, and even they are getting tired of it. There is such a concept of over saturating the market.

Praise God that our government still wants to help religious institutions give a hand up to others. The religious institutions can do it much better than the government can by showing compassion and care and servants hearts. We must let the religious institutions have the freedom to hire and not strongarm them. It is their program and facility and they know what people they need best to help them. Yes, there is seperation of church and state, but not of God and state. He will continue to intervene in the acts of people, therefore we must ask Him to bless our nation as we follow His inspired Word, otherwise things will only get worse.

In one sentence I would like to say that now hard time will be coming for Bibkle Based constitutions and people will astray from their "faith".
When all Religion would be accepted to come together it is completely against the word of God. Turmoil situation is at hand because americans are having already fales cults who are multimillioner.
Evangelical leaders must have a Fasting and Prayer programs and conventions that people should "Repent.
OT and NT in Jesus refuted such practices sternly - do not mix with gentiles.Much can be written , but now christianity today hgas to play a big role in bias "FAITH" Strategy so the Churches which are empty due demoraklization of personal lives......

I would hope that an evangelical magazine, such as Christianity Today wouldn't use the term "separation of church and state" that has been taken from a private letter of Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, and used (& misused?) as if it were the First Amendment. Liberals want separation between government/politics & conservative Christian convictions, but not the same for liberal religious convictions. Susan Pullman would not buy into the terminology of the Religious Left & secular groups like Americans United, ACLU, etc.

I wont money.............becoz i wont to hammar....i haven't money to buy vehicale. please hellp me.

im glard to you if you can help for my dream come true.........


k. jayawardana,
50/5, Angampitiya road,
Etul kotte
kotte

jayawardana_k@yahoo.com

In 1492, Chemor, chief Rabbi of Spain, wrote to the Grand Sanhedrin, which had its seat in Constantinople, for advice, when a Spanish law threatened expulsion.2 This was the reply:

” Beloved brethren in Moses, we have received your letter in which you tell us of the anxieties and misfortunes which you are enduring. We are pierced by as great pain to hear it as yourselves.

The advice of the Grand Satraps and Rabbis is the following:

1. As for what you say that the King of Spain obliges you to become Christians: do it, since you cannot do otherwise.

2. As for what you say about the command to despoil you of your property: make your sons merchants that they may despoil, little by little, the Christians of theirs.

3. As for what you say about making attempts on your lives: make your sons doctors and apothecaries, that they may take away Christians’ lives.

4. As for what you say of their destroying your synagogues: make your sons canons and clerics in order that they may destroy their churches. [Emphasis mine]

5. As for the many other vexations you complain of: arrange that your sons become advocates and lawyers, and see that they always mix in affairs of State, that by putting Christians under your yoke you may dominate the world and be avenged on them.

6. Do not swerve from this order that we give you, because you will find by experience that, humiliated as you are, you will reach the actuality of power.

(Signed) PRINCE OF THE JEWS OF CONSTANTINOPLE.”

2. The reply is found in the sixteenth century Spanish book, La Silva Curiosa, by Julio-Iniguez de Medrano (Paris, Orry, 1608), on pages 156 and 157, with the following explanation: “This letter following was found in the archives of Toledo by the Hermit of Salamanca, (while) searching the ancient records of the kingdoms of Spain; and, as it is expressive and remarkable, I wish to write it here.” — vide, photostat facing page 80.

~ The above was quoted from Waters Flowing Eastward by Paquita de Shishmareff, pp. 73-74

In 1492, Chemor, chief Rabbi of Spain, wrote to the Grand Sanhedrin, which had its seat in Constantinople, for advice, when a Spanish law threatened expulsion.2 This was the reply:

” Beloved brethren in Moses, we have received your letter in which you tell us of the anxieties and misfortunes which you are enduring. We are pierced by as great pain to hear it as yourselves.

The advice of the Grand Satraps and Rabbis is the following:

1. As for what you say that the King of Spain obliges you to become Christians: do it, since you cannot do otherwise.

2. As for what you say about the command to despoil you of your property: make your sons merchants that they may despoil, little by little, the Christians of theirs.

3. As for what you say about making attempts on your lives: make your sons doctors and apothecaries, that they may take away Christians’ lives.

4. As for what you say of their destroying your synagogues: make your sons canons and clerics in order that they may destroy their churches. [Emphasis mine]

5. As for the many other vexations you complain of: arrange that your sons become advocates and lawyers, and see that they always mix in affairs of State, that by putting Christians under your yoke you may dominate the world and be avenged on them.

6. Do not swerve from this order that we give you, because you will find by experience that, humiliated as you are, you will reach the actuality of power.

(Signed) PRINCE OF THE JEWS OF CONSTANTINOPLE.”

2. The reply is found in the sixteenth century Spanish book, La Silva Curiosa, by Julio-Iniguez de Medrano (Paris, Orry, 1608), on pages 156 and 157, with the following explanation: “This letter following was found in the archives of Toledo by the Hermit of Salamanca, (while) searching the ancient records of the kingdoms of Spain; and, as it is expressive and remarkable, I wish to write it here.” — vide, photostat facing page 80.

~ The above was quoted from Waters Flowing Eastward by Paquita de Shishmareff, pp. 73-74