Changes in the Obama Faith-Based Initiative

Changes in the Obama Faith-Based Initiative

In March, 2013, Melissa Rogers replaced Joshua DuBois as head of President Obama’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. IRFA President Stanley Carlson-Thies comments on her appointment and on the future of the office.

Melissa Rogers has been involved in a series of important “common ground” projects designed to foster understanding of and respect for religious freedom.  Her background is church-state separationism.  In its Baptist form—her heritage—the intention of such separation is to protect the church from the state, and not to protect government from religion.  IRFA President Stanley Carlson-Thies served with Rogers on a task force of the early Obama Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  The task force advocated that the Charitable Choice and Equal Treatment church-state principles developed during the Bush and Clinton administrations should be maintained.  Rogers, unfortunately, believes that the freedom of faith-based organizations to consider religion when hiring and firing staff should be limited if the organizations receive government funds.

IRFA President Carlson-Thies commented on the Obama faith-based initiative and proposed ways it should be expanded and improved, in his contribution to a Brookings Institution conference, Dec. 14, 2012, “Four More Years for the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.”  Hear the event or read the transcript here.