Magazine article Church & State

Obama Transition Team Deliberates Future of 'Faith-Based' Initiative

Magazine article Church & State

Obama Transition Team Deliberates Future of 'Faith-Based' Initiative

Article excerpt

Staffers with the transition team of President Barack Obama have been meeting with various religious and public policy organizations as they hash out the future of the "faith-based" initiative.

Obama has already stated that the office will remain open. He plans to rename it the White House Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and make other changes.

Americans United and other groups have been urging Obama to rescind an executive order issued by President George W. Bush that gives religious groups the right to engage in hiring discrimination while still receiving tax funding. Transition team members have met with Americans United staff members and others to discuss this and other issues.

Obama has also convened an adhoc advisory group on the faith-based issue. In December, U.S. News & World Report quoted Paul Corts, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, who commented on these meetings.

"The president's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is not being created in a vacuum," Corts said. "Our group is only an advisory ad hoc group invited to serve by the transition team, but we're very hopeful and optimistic. Our advisory group discussions have been wide ranging, robust and with diverse views--but with civility."

Evangelical leader Jim Wallis later told U.S. News that issues like hiring bias "have been in the conversation."

He added, "But I would not expect any significant changes in the near term. …

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