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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  | Category:  Religion
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Sounds like more people with their hand out wanting something green put in it.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | April 7, 2009 12:57 PM

New faith-based members seems to be a conglomerate of groups with divergent views. This is not necessarily a bad thing since we live in a pluralistic society. However, if this is just to advance a secularist society, we should name it as such. Unless we can dialogue with respect and consider another's values this is doomed to failure. I believe that certain relevant groups such as the Church of Latter Day Saints and American Orthodox Christians have been marginalized. If it is not inclusive of all religious affiliations don't call it faith-based. Dialogue is good as long as we don't start another religious persecution. Exclusion of religious groups from dialogue is also persecution. Let the games begin and may the God of all creation bless the United states of America.

Posted by: bywaterorfire | April 7, 2009 11:18 AM

its like putting a rabid dog in a cage with a cat they will be fighting each other for tax payers money

Posted by: getsix1 | April 6, 2009 9:32 PM

i like it the more people he drives away comrade dear leader. the less time we have to put up with him 4 years is not long we got rid op the peanut farmer pretty quick

Posted by: getsix1 | April 6, 2009 9:26 PM


I have no objection to the existence of such an advisory council as presently constructed and utilized. I can well see how access to a variety of viewpoints on issues so important to Americans could be helpful to the President. I am especially heartened that THIS President is wise enough to appoint representatives of a variety of interests and faiths.

As originally contructed by President Obama's predecessor, this council was simply political payback to the religious right - a sham to provide clout and government money to conservative churches and evangelists who supported him. A thinly disguised attempt to get around the separation of church and state and fund the anti-choice movement.

It is getting to the point that no matter what the topic, whether it be government's interaction with religion, government's interaction with foreign governments, goverment's interaction with business, government's policy on our civil rights, policy on Iraq and on Afghanistan, on the economy, on the Justice Department - it doesn't mattter, pick any topic - I smile knowing those evil bastards are finally gone and we have honor back in the White House.

Posted by: Speaktruth | April 6, 2009 8:05 PM

Amen to Senatorcat. Why not a no faith-based group composed of agnostics and atheists? Sounds discriminatory to me.

Posted by: hadley2 | April 6, 2009 7:34 PM

That's great!!
Gallup Center for Muslim Studies;
Asian Indian Women of America;
Human Rights Campaign a religion program which advocates for gays and lesbians;
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
National Council of Churches, an ecumenical umbrella group of mostly mainline Protestants.

The office was dominated by extreme, ultra right-wing evangelicals. They had hijacked their own narrow extreme version of "faith". They'll leave in a huff because main-line Protestants aren't "real" christians.

Now all members will be "special" and get to ride on the "Special Needs" Bus.

Posted by: thebobbob | April 6, 2009 6:37 PM

This office should be terminated immediately. It is the remnants of Bush's fanaticism.

Posted by: senatorcat | April 6, 2009 6:22 PM

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