President Barack Obama signed an executive order Thursday that built on former President George W. Bush's faith-based initiatives office, upholding Bush's policy that faith-based organizations that hire from their own religious group can apply for federal grants.
Obama also laid out specific priorities for the office: poverty reduction, abortion reduction, encouraging fatherhood, and interfaith relations.
Obama tapped Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old Pentecostal minister who led religious outreach during his campaign, to lead the office Obama renamed the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. DuBois may seek guidance from the Justice Department if questions arise about the legality of potential grant recipients.
"So, say an agency secretary reaches out to us and asks a question about a particular grant recipient," DuBois told Christianity Today. "They will say, 'Hey, can you look into this?' and start that mechanism, and then we'll provide some feedback to them or elevate it to the President if necessary."
Obama did not make the faith-based initiative an emphasis in his campaign the same way that Bush did, but he did say that he would expand the office. During the campaign, he told a crowd in Ohio that "if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion."
One member of the new office's advisory council is Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. The Christian humanitarian organization was approved for a $1.5 million grant from the Bush administration in October 2008 for the salaries of staff members running a program that helps youth avoid gangs. A memorandum ...