New Director Offers Vision for Faith-Based Office
Will you be working with other departments like Health and Human Services on reducing the need for abortion?
We will certainly be working with the agency secretaries, and one thing about reducing the number of abortions is that it doesn't sit in the one office. So if we stand up a taskforce on women, one might expect that this office would work with that taskforce to find some common-ground areas.
Who do you report to?
My boss is the President of the United States and the head of the Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes.
Will you be involved in other parts of the administration as it pertains to religion?
I certainly would be one voice in that conversation, and that's why it's helpful to be on the Domestic Policy Council. We are surrounded by folks who are weighing in on these topics — education, faith, and so forth. Since I'm integrated in that policy structure, I'll be able to have a voice on issues outside of just the faith-based initiative.
I know some are still wondering where the President will go to church. Have you been involved in that decision?
No, that's a personal decision that I'm letting them make, and it's something that's obviously very important to them and also obviously very difficult to do in the confines of the White House and Washington. He's going to make it at the time and place he thinks is best for his family.
Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives was criticized for being too political. How are you going to transition from your role on the campaign to being director of this office?
Very easily. We're just going to root out the politics in our decision-making. If you look at the council that we've stood up, it includes people from across the board. We're going to make sure decisions are made based on which programs work and which don't, not who's a friend of Barack Obama, President Obama, and who's not. That's an edict that goes out — that's not the way we do business. We're simply not going to do it that way.
How do you respond to criticism from those who say that federal funding should not go to faith-based organizations?
We have tough problems here in our country and across the globe, and we need all hands on deck. That includes faith-based and community groups. If we're going to address global climate change or make sure folks are getting out of poverty and back on their feet, we need to go to the institutions that are in these communities, which are local organizations — everything from Big Brother to the local church, synagogue, or mosque. I think it's about the problems we need to solve, not who's doing the solving. In many cases the folks who are out there working are these organizations.
Have you looked at any research that looks at how effective faith-based organizations are compared with other organizations?
There's a lot of key research there, but it's not about who does it better or worse as much as it is about how we need all hands on deck.
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Last year, Christianity Today interviewed John DiIulio, the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
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