White House Keeps the Faith

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February 4, 2011; Source: CNN Belief Blog | Almost a year ago, President Obama's faith-based advisory council issued its report (PDF) on moving forward with faith-based programs, and much more recently the President issued an executive order ostensibly to implement the report's recommendations. A new commission was then to be constituted to move forward with the faith-based agenda, and the announcement of their appointments came only last week. NPQ readers will likely recognize some of the new members of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships:

  • Susan Sterns (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee);
  • Leith Anderson (president, National Association of Evangelicals);
  • Andrea Bazán (president, Triangle Community Foundation);
  • Angela Glover Blackwell (founder and CEO of Policy Link);
  • Brian Gallagher (CEO of United Way Worldwide);
  • Bishop Mark Hanson (presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America);
  • Lynne Hybels (co-founder of the Willow Creek Community Church, the fourth largest church in the United States, http://www.sermoncentral.com/articleb.asp?article=Top-100-Largest-Churches);
  • Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori (presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church);
  • Rabbi Julie Schonfeld (executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly);
  • Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis (Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America);
  • Sister Marlene Weisenbeck (past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious); and
  • Rev. Elder Nancy L. Wilson (moderator for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, largest denomination specifically serving LGBT persons).

This list is interesting because it doesn't have the domestic or international faith-based nonprofits that were represented on President Obama's previous faith-based council (such as representatives of the Christian Community Development Association, Catholic Charities, Interfaith Youth Core, and World Vision in addition to secular nonprofits such as SEEDCO and Big Brothers Big Sisters). The previous advisory council was larger, so perhaps the White House will add faith-based service and aid nonprofits to the panel.

In addition, this list omits anyone speaking for a segment of the Muslim and Hindu populations of the U.S. or the major African-American churches such as the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church or the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). The President seems to have eschewed a "one of each" kind of appointment methodology. Still there seem to be some voices missing from this small list of appointees.—Rick Cohen