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Obama Selects Pastor, 26, to Head Faith Office

By Michelle Boorstein and Michael D. Shear
President Obama has named Josh DuBois, the 26-year-old who ran religious outreach for his presidential campaign, to head the White House's new office of faith-based programs, a White House aide said today.

DuBois, who has worked as an associate pastor for a small Pentecostal church in Massachusetts and received a master's degree in public affairs from Princeton University, was widely expected to get the position and is considered close to the president, for whom he also worked in the Senate.

DuBois's appointment to run the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships -- first reported today in the New York Times -- is the first publicly known detail about the future of the office, which partners with faith groups on social service issues and helps advise them on applying for federal funds.

Obama aides have said the president's effort will expand the faith-based office at the White House. Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives made a priority of placing faith offices within federal agencies, but was criticized by some former high-ranking staff for becoming politicized.

It's still unknown whether Obama's faith-based effort will include the same amount of staff at the agencies -- including the Justice, Labor and Education Departments -- or how he will juggle concerns some faith-based social service groups have voiced about being forced to compromise their beliefs in order to compete equally for federal funding. Obama has come under fire for saying he would reverse a Bush executive order allowing faith-based groups to discriminate in hiring based on religion, but then largely halting comment on it.

DuBois is a familiar face to faith activists.

DuBois "is a very close confidant and adviser to President Obama, so this demonstrates the president is very committed to working with faith groups and organizations in this country," said Burns Strider, who ran religious outreach for Hillary Clinton's campaign and now does faith-based political consulting. "He's put a trusted adviser to run it so it can hit the ground running."

The faith-based office will remain, as it did under Bush, within the Domestic Policy Council. There will also be faith outreach staffer in the Office of Public Liason.

DuBois also worked for U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and was raised in Nashville.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 29, 2009; 1:58 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Cast of Characters , White House  
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Some things to consider:

1) The Constitution forbids the federal government from "establishing" any church/religion/sect as the official one. There is no specific "separation of church and state" clause in the Constitution apart from that. The Constitution does not state that the federal government can have no functioning relationships with religious groups(e.g., hire a faith-based organization through a legal contract to provide social services).

2) While our government must be secular, the people whom it serves and even the people whom it hires to serve others are under no such requirement. "Freedom of religion" does and must always include the right of persons to be utterly irreligious (a fact that some of our fundamentals brethren can't seem to accept), but it does not require it. Sorry, folks, but Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom OF religion is not Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom FROM it in all aspects of our national life.

3) That said, I think a vast majority of us believe that the government should not be paying religious groups to proselytize or otherwise advance their religious agendas. That's where it gets tough, I know, for the devil is in the details (again!). I think that it's the religious organizations who have the burden to demonstrate that the services they provide as government hirelings do not involve any religious litmus tests for their clients and that those particular services are not in and of themselves thinly veiled attempts are proselytizing. A corollary to this is that while religious organizations may hire whom they please, the government will not pay anybody for doing anything except the specific NON-religious activity it has contracted.

So Bush had and Obama has officers for interfacing with religious organizations. It makes sense if those organizations can deliver services better and more efficiently than an a governmental agency. Is anyone seriously arguing for creating more bureaucracy? I think Obama must be very careful, and I don't think he should go down the Bush path of politicizing such relationships.

Don't like religion??? Fine. Be as irreligious as you want. But you only get to ask that government itself is secular, not that the people it serves or that the people it hires to serve others must be irreligious.

(Full disclosure: I am a committed Christian, a Baptist who affirms the traditionally Baptist position in favor of strict separation of church and state. I do wish that the majority of Baptists hadn't forgotten that position).

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | February 1, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

It would appear that the Obama White House is continuing the Bush nonsense and has decided that parts of the Constitution, such as the 1st Amendment, are merely arbitratry conveniences. Will free speech or our right to assemble be next?

Sorry Mr. Pres.! However, if Federal funding is going to this office, then you are in violation of your oath. If it's not federally funded, what the heck is the office doing in the White House, on public property, under your auspices? Is the Rev. paying rent?

As a municipal district chairman, who delivered my district over 3 to 1 for you, I am, to say the least, a bit miffed at your disrespect for our Constituion and my right to be free from governmental interference in my religious practices by endorsment of another's religion and the funding of that endorsement by tax dollars.

Posted by: JohninConnecticut | February 1, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I think weblinks should be deleted on these posts.

Faith-based organizations are doing the work of social service government agencies. They should be in touch with each other.

Funding is another matter. Taking our money away from us & giving it to someone else means we have a say in where it is spent. And we should. We have to demand it, though.

I wish the government had a way to connect with everyone & ask them what they think about different choices. We could fill out a poll regularly that has the force of law.

I personally think all laws should be voted on by the voters before they can become law. Would the stimulus bills, for instance, have become law if the voters had to decide? Or pay raises for Congressmen? Or the war in Iraq?

Posted by: NeedToKnow | January 31, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution has no Clause prescribing a "Separation of Church and State". If anyone can find it I would love to see a co-y of the document. As a matter of fact, in 1802 President Thomas Jefferson received a leter from the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut congratulating him on the election and celebrating his zealous advocacy for religious liberty. In response Jefferson rote:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God ... I contmplate with sovereign reverence that the act of the whole American people which declared that THEIR LEGISLATURE SHOULD "MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OR RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF",THUS BUILDING A WALL OF SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE.

This simply FORBADES governemet from establishing a State Church. It DOES NOT forbid the Church from influencing the State. CHECK YOUR HISTORY BEFORE MAKING FALSE ALLEGATIONS ...

Posted by: seigrella | January 30, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution has no Clause prescribing a "Separation of Church and State". If anyone can find it I would love to see a co-y of the document. As a matter of fact, in 1802 President Thomas Jefferson received a leter from the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut congratulating him on the election and celebrating his zealous advocacy for religious liberty. In response Jefferson rote:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God ... I contmplate with sovereign reverence that the act of the whole American people which declared that THEIR LEGISLATURE SHOULD "MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OR RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF",THUS BUILDING A WALL OF SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE.

This simply FORBADES governemet from establishing a State Church. It DOES NOT forbid the Church from influencing the State. CHECK YOUR HISTORY BEFORE MAKING FALSE ALLEGATIONS ...

Posted by: seigrella | January 30, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama is President and he can pick whomever he wants to serve with him. This country was formed on faith based principles. Many faith based communities are the ones that provide assistance to lower social economic people. No matter what Almighty God is in control and not people.

Posted by: lclon | January 30, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I am appalled that Obama would refuse to acknowledge that this is a secular nation with a secular constitution. I voted for him because I thought he'd dump the religious crap.I was wrong.
michael G Teply

Posted by: michaelteply | January 30, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I am deeply disappointed by this action. The "Faith-Based" office should never have been created in the first place. Religion should be a private matter. We need absolute separation of church and state. The result of such an office will inevitably be the use of government authority and tax dollars to implement the beliefs of particular religions. Abolish the "Faith-Based" office.

Posted by: jgnickum | January 30, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Someone must challenge Obama on this appointment. Seems, he has created a position for a friend at tax payers' expense. Hopefully, the Supreme Court or some federal judge will challenge based on the seperation of church and state.What is the need for Obama to be surrounded by pastors and most have been controversail. Should be glad, that he did not select - Wright, Jackson, Haggard, or Al Sharpeton.

Posted by: mimiknight | January 30, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

We have to remember that President Obama is the leader of the nation and not just the Democratic party. Democrats are not going to get it all their way. I voted for Obama, but I do not agree with his every decision. It should not be his desire to please any one party or belief. He is the leader of the nation and that means the people that oppose your beliefs too. Pick your fights. You're not going to win them all.

Posted by: feemill | January 30, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I trust President Obama to make legal, lawful uses of this office. What is striking to me is that he seems to be turning away from the progressive theology that characterizes the United Church of Christ (UCC) of which he was a member for decades. I know he was thoroughly burned by his former pastor at Trinity UCC in Chicago. I know he resigned from Trinity, but I wasn't aware of any publicized refutation of the UCC beyond that. I will be watching carefully for future developments. The Sunday before his inauguration, he attended services at a Baptist church in DC. Then we had Rick Warren at the inauguration, and now we have a young Pentecostal minister running this very visible office in the White House. In my opinion, an outstanding choice to do the opening prayer would have been John Thomas, national president of the UCC, as fine a pastor as you will find and a national religious leader as well. If Obama does turn his back on the UCC and its members, of which I am one, over the long term, I will be sorely disappointed.

Posted by: jothomp | January 30, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Faith based? Which faiths are they referring to when they say this, does this include Buddhist, Brahmani, Agnostic, Hindu, Native, Sanitarian, Muslim, Taoist, and the countless others to many to mention. It seems that the "Faith Based" issue is really Evangelical and the Christian Right. This i a political movement and nothing to do with religion. How about freedom from religion?

Posted by: kristianna276 | January 30, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Where is the separation of Church and Government? For Democrats nothing is sacred not even for the unborn but it is for murderers and rapist.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | January 30, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

How about a "Non-Believers Initiative Program."

Posted by: FromtheRaft | January 29, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

During the previous administration, I worked for the federal contractor that provided technical support for the faith-based initiative known as the Compassion Capital Fund. Much was made about the Bush Administration’s innovativeness in providing public dollars to support the work of faith-based organizations. This was inaccurate. Government support through a network of grants and contracts has been provided to religious organizations for non-sectarian social services for the past 50 years.

What was new was allowing federal funds to be used to support religious and quasi-religious activities under the guise of social services. This happened with a wink and a nod through the Capital Compassion Fund and related faith-based initiatives. This cannot be allowed to continue in the Obama Administration.

Additionally, I witnessed first hand, technical assistance training on how CCF grantees could legally discriminate against people they didn’t want to hire based on religious predilections. As an American, I was and continue to be offended that taxpayer dollars would be used to exclude any group of people. This cannot be allowed to continue in the new administration of the White House’s Office of Faith-based Initiatives.

Yet, beyond these challenges, there is the wider, Constitutional issue of the separation of church and state. The previous administration – certainly not the most respectful of the Constitution in general – somehow believed that the separation clause was up for grabs. It is not.

We are all diminished when government can use its substantial weight to assault the Constitution by funding the peculiarities of religious entities. Let’s hope that President Obama, as a constitutional scholar, will safeguard these vital protections by curtailing the errors of the past faith-based initiative.

Posted by: wjfreeman1 | January 29, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse


Thanks so much for your neurolinguistically challenged disinfo.

Now I am going to listen to one of my favorite Springteen songs -- "No Surrender."

Do those anti-propaganda laws apply to "contractors"?

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 29, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse


Article VI : "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Requiring that this person belongs to a religious group, any group, violates this article.




Posted by: cintronlourdes | January 29, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

He should have closed the office down.

Posted by: svreader | January 29, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

A masters in communication from Princeton, eh? Perhaps the President might take a moment to read James Madison, the Father of the Constitution who wrote the he "always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both" {Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811}. Abolish the "faith office." It defiles both the government and religion, Mr. Obama.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | January 29, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I agree with solsticebelle. The office should be closed.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 29, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Religion has no place in politics, period.

I don't care who is president. It's just as wrong when Obama does it as it is when Bush does it, even though Obama tries to pay lip service to the Constitution when he does it. But that's all it is...lip service.

Posted by: solsticebelle | January 29, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh excuse me, which faith is this man from?

Posted by: linda_521 | January 29, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping he would get rid of this office. Why is the government advising religions at all? Especially advising religions how they can take my tax money.

Posted by: fedssocr | January 29, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm really disappointed with Obama's decision to have a "faith office".

Whatever happened to seperation of church and state. I know I do not want taxpayer money going to ANY religion or religious institution.

If someone wants to support a religion, they are free to do so but they are not entitled to my money.

Posted by: rcubedkc | January 29, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

well, a family in Ohio (4) found dead from murder suicide.
Family number 2 in the news within 48 hours.

The Ohio man was employed they are saying. Law enforcement is not releasing the motive for the murder suicide.

I don't want to know.
So now, and immediately now....this new Father Josh can start his new position by making people believe that suicide is not the way out.
I see a bloody train wreck in 2009 and I am heartily sorry.
(((( long sigh )))

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 29, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

that's also related to the USA Patriot Act. The USA PAtriot Act gave so much "militaristic type" power to local law enforcement. They did not, and do not, have to answer anyone now.

Interesting note: in the 40s and 50s, if you tried suicide; you were AUTOMATICALLY given shock treatments.
As we later found out, shock treatments (as well as lobotamies) were -how do i say this---terrible and should have never been done in the first place.
Today, in modern society, we have stun guns (don't tase me bro). A stun gun delivers the equivalent of a low volume shock treatment.
And boy oh boy, those coppers have alot of fun with them now, don't they.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 29, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

well now, isn't this special.

We will have our own Father Josh at the White House.
Wonder if he looks as good as Matthew McConaughey in Contact?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 29, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse


Team Obama must move swiftly to dismantle the nationwide extrajudicial punishment network of citizen vigilantes and federal security/intel/law enforcement operatives.

This nationwide, KKK-like rogue operation has made a mockery of the judicial system for the past eight years and has claimed many victims from all strata of society. This journalist is among them.

Crimes against humanity are being committed across the nation via the use of so-called "directed energy weapons" which the Bush D.O.J. recently confirmed are being widely deployed to police forces nationwide.

These RADIATION weapons emit silent, pulsed bursts of various forms of radiation -- and are degrading and damaging the health of those on the receiving end as well as their operators.

This weaponry has NO PLACE in civilized society -- much less in the hands of security personnel who interact with the public.

The widespread deployment of this weaponry virtually assures its misuse. Imagine if rogue actors tried to use its silent, deadly force to induce illness or to disable our political leaders.

Perhaps they already have.

Please, Pastor DuBois, read this article. The victims of "The American Gestapo" continue to suffer. I am prepared to give full testimony.

But until justice is done, perhaps you can pray that the monsters behind these "programs of personal destruction" hear the word of God and cease their unconstitutional and inhumane crimes against the American public.

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 29, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Even Froomkin is in this format now:

Posted by: hiberniantears | January 29, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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