By Joseph DeCaro
Washington, D.C., USA (Worthy News) -- United States President Barack Obama has named a young Pentecostal pastor to lead the White Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships as part of attempts to improve relations with faith-based groups, Worthy News learned Monday, February 16.
Joshua DuBois, 26, previously headed religious affairs for Obama's Senate office and his presidential campaign.
His appointment comes after the Office, under former President George W. Bush, was criticized that "it had more politics" than it had funds.
“This is not a religious office or a religious administration,” Dubois said. “We are going to try to find ways to work with faith-based and community organizations that are secular in nature, and don't cross the boundaries between church and state. We understand it is a fine line, but it's a line we're comfortable walking.”
How comfortable, will depend on how the White House deals with the question of whether or not federal contracts should be awarded to religious groups that only hire members of their own faith.
The Justice Department will review a Bush-era policy which said that the doctrine of separation-of-state should not prevent religious groups from competing for government money to help the needy.
PAYING FOR RELIGION?
Opponents say they worry that government would wind up paying for religion.
In addition to DuBois, Obama has named 25 religious and secular leaders to an advisory board, including a critic of the former faith-based Office, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
“In President Obama, you have somebody who is not only religiously knowledgeable, thoughtful, open and sensitive himself,” said Saperstein in a statement monitored by Worthy News. “You also have somebody who understands constitutional law, who understands the strength of our system is no establishment of religion. He's going to work hard to get this balance right," he added.
The advisory council says it will focus on four priorities: enlisting community groups to assist in economic recovery, reducing the number of abortions while encouraging responsible fatherhood, and improving interfaith relations, especially with Muslims.