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Washington — President Obama signed an executive order yesterday establishing a new faith-based initiatives office, setting out four specific priorities and creating a new advisory council.

The office will focus on reducing poverty, reducing the need for abortion, encouraging responsible fatherhood, and working with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue around the world. Evangelicals on the 25-member advisory council include president of World Vision Richard Stearns, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Frank S. Page, Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter, and president of Sojourners Jim Wallis.

Just a few hours after Obama signed the executive order, Christianity Today sat down with the office's new director, Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old Pentecostal minister who handled religious affairs in Obama's campaign.

How were the four issues outlined in the executive order chosen?

The President picked them. These are priorities that are close to his heart and areas where faith-based community groups can really have a significant impact. These are some of the things he thinks we need to accomplish in our country and across the world, and he decided to do it.

Have you picked the whole advisory council?

Not yet. We still have to pull out 10 more names, and we're looking forward to doing that pretty quickly.

How did you pick the 15 already on the council?

These are folks who are at the top of their fields — both religious and secular that really represent diverse backgrounds and a range of political perspective. They're serving for one-year terms. So there will be a lot of folks over the course of this term — and God-willing, the next term as well — that will be able to plug into ...

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February 2009

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