Thursday, April 9, 2009

Obama's Faith-based office

Interesting. I've been following Obama's formation of his version of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. TIME wrote about it this week:

While the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been around for eight years, the Obama White House is very keen to stress that their version of the office will have an entirely different mission. Whereas Bush established the office to "level the playing field" for faith-based service organizations that he argued were unable to compete for federal grants, Obama intends to use his faith office more for policy matters. It operates under the Domestic Policy Council and is charged with focusing on four issues: domestic poverty, responsible fatherhood, reducing the need for abortion and preventing unintended pregnancy, and interreligious dialogue and cooperation.
"That's how we'll be judging our success," said Dubois on Monday evening. "It's how well we make advances in those areas — not on how many groups end up getting federal grants."
Throughout the two days, council members — as well as approximately 40 additional religious leaders who were invited to attend the sessions — sat through briefings by Administration officials on topics ranging from education reform and childhood hunger to energy policy. In a town where "religious issues" are often thought to be limited to hot-button social concerns like abortion and gay marriage, the wide array of information was welcomed by many of those gathered. "This shows us that none of our faiths disqualify us from being concerned about the issues facing our country," said Vashti McKenzie, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal church. She added, "We've heard from candidates before elections — thank you for coming to us after the election is over."


Mason said...

“domestic poverty, responsible fatherhood, reducing the need for abortion and preventing unintended pregnancy, and interreligious dialogue”

I think these are all things we can agree on and devote our time and energy to as an outworking of our faith.
While the hot button issues matter, they are also usually blow way out of proportion to other more central concerns, and they are often approached in a polarized way that won’t get us anywhere.
I’d love to see a little less frightening between interest groups and a little more coming together to address the issues we all have reason to care about like poverty.

Kacie said...

Exactly. It's not that the issues of conflict don't matter - they do. But in order to minimize the damage, it's important to work together where we can!