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Progressive Revival

Obama’s Council on Faith Based Partnerships – Missing in Action When We Need It Most

Obama’s Council on Faith Based Partnerships has fallen off
the map – and we need them back.  
Nothing exemplifies the sad lack of contribution of this much hailed
diverse group of religious leaders than the current impasse on Health Care with
the Stupak Abortion amendment. 

Even before President Obama took office he was assembling a
team of religious leaders from a wide range of backgrounds to advise him as he
proposed to tackle difficult issues such as poverty reduction, health care, war
and other moral questions of governance. 
Many of us were excited about the prospect of Obama’s Faith Council which included
such theologically and politically diverse names as Father Snyder of Catholic
Charities, Rabbi Saperstein of the Reform Action Committee, Dr. Frank Page
former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. Sharon Watkins,
General Minister of the Disciples of Christ. 


Unlike in the past, Obama’s Faith Council was allotted no
money to dispense so it was relieved of the political nightmare of accusations
of favoritism and could focus on policy questions.  The promise of this group lay in its diversity.  The idea being that if this group could
come to some consensus on the important moral issues of the day that it would
help inform President Obama’s administration to enact policy that reflected, by
proxy, the religious wisdom of the vast majority of the American population.

Unfortunately, after a much-publicized announcement and
launch, the group has basically been silent.   Apparently the Council is working on a “report” to
give to the President sometime next year on the various areas they have been
assigned to investigate.  This
seems like a classic blow off – “Yes, faith leaders, why don’t you go write a
report.  I look forward to glancing
at it.” 


The issues that need moral guidance are on the table now!  By its silence, the President’s Council
on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is acquiescing to its own
irrelevancy.    Most Americans and policy makers have
assuredly forgotten the council exists – but not those of us who really
believed in the possibilities of the group.

The ‘Urgency of Now’ includes finding a way to a health care
bill, address questions of unemployment and foreclosures, the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, torture and even balancing gay marriage with freedom of religion.   The time will never be more
urgent for the Council’s moral voice on these questions.  

Comments read comments(4)
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posted November 15, 2009 at 9:34 pm

As a matter of fact, I was at forum this past Friday at NY Theological Seminary with officials from the US Dept. of Education on connecting faith communities with public schools to improve educational outcomes, and came away feeling that after 8 wretched years, perhaps the Federal government might actually become an ally again in particular community-based efforts. While the faith council you mention may be missing in action, the Office of Faith-based and Community Partnerships seems to be stirring some activity in some departments and agencies.

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posted November 16, 2009 at 10:01 am

Religious in politics only.
Barack Hussein Obama.
You gotta hand it to him. It gave him the White House.

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posted November 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Unfortunately, after a much-publicized announcement and launch, the group has basically done nothing………….
a bit like the president they serve then!

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posted November 19, 2009 at 10:14 pm

you may be surprised by all we have been working on behind the scenes…the report you reference is only one dimension of the work we are doing…including raising our voices on healthcare reform, Afghanistan, racism, economic recovery…and more…
pray for us…we have much more to do…and so little time…our terms are over in Feb, but I think we have done a good job of getting the ball rolling.

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