White House Faith-Based Partnerships Council Gets New Members
Updated 5:45 p.m.
By Michelle Boorstein
The White House today announced ten more members of the council that will advise the president on faith-based and other key issues, such as fatherhood and poverty.
Several new members come from groups representing minorities, including: Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; Anju Bhargava, founder of Asian Indian Women of America and Harry Knox, head of the religion program at the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gays and lesbians.
Other new members include Anthony Picarello, formerly of the religious liberties law firm Becket Fund and now general counsel to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches, a sprawling ecumenical umbrella group of mostly mainline Protestants.
The additions bring the council's ranks to 24 religious and secular leaders. Each will serve a one-year term as part of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The office, which was created by President George W. Bush, is meant primarily to support faith-based groups, including by helping them get government funding or access to legal guidance about church-state boundaries. Under President Obama, it has laid out several priorities including interfaith relations, abortion reduction and improving the environment.
The council had its first real meeting today. The first 15 members had been part of a meet-and-greet but today the full council heard from government staffers about priority areas and gave some feedback in return. The meeting will continue through tomorrow and is meant to be an overview of the office and its priorities.
Posted at 4:19 PM ET on Apr 6, 2009
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