Religious adviser to Obama responds to CBC's criticism
By Hamil R. Harris
In the wake of Congressional Black Caucus members' accusations that President Obama has not been responsive enough to African American concerns, a top religious adviser to the president called Friday on the community to help the president. And his faith-based programs director emphasized the outreach the White House is doing to religious communities on issues the CBC cares about.
"Criticism goes with the office," said the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. "There are various kinds of criticism, constructive and destructive. Some of the criticism from leaders in our community is a call for help, and in making that call we have to understand that call is coming from within the family."
Moss attended the council's final meeting this Tuesday at the White House, and he said he came away convinced that the president's heart is in the right place.
"I have great faith, respect and administration for the president's commitment and leadership, but we have to help him," Moss said. "Not since President Lincoln or Roosevelt has a president inherited such tremendous challenges nationally and globally. We must remember that he is dealing with not just eight years, but an accumulation of many years of right-wing and wrong directions."
The 25-member commission included other prominent African American church leaders, including Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; William J. Shaw, former president of the National Baptist Convention; and Bishop Charles Blake of the Church of God in Christ.
Aides to Obama also attempted to downplay the CBC's criticism, saying that the president has undertaken numerous initiatives to improve the quality of life for African Americans.
Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, noted that he has weekly calls with clergy from across the country. Topics have included "job creation, poverty measurement, health insurance reform, immigration," as well as other issues that the CBC members think the president is moving too slowly to address.
Hamil R. Harris
March 12, 2010; 8:30 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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