Guest / Limited Access /

When President Obama issued his executive order repurposing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, some groups on the Left predictably decried the office as blurring the line between church and state. But conservatives and others who support the office also expressed concerns.

Some groups had feared that Obama would require faith-based organizations that receive grants to hire applicants from other faiths. But the President decided not to issue a blanket rule. Instead, the White House announced that DuBois would be working with the Justice Department to consider the hiring question on a case-by-case basis.

"That strikes me as arbitrary. How do you decide on a case-by-case basis what is equitable to all?" said Amy Black, a Wheaton College political science professor. "We don't want religious discrimination to become a cloak for other forms of discrimination."

Calvin College political science professor Douglas Koopman questioned the office's more issues-driven approach. Obama set specific issues for the office to address: reducing poverty, reducing the need for abortions, encouraging responsible fatherhood, and fostering worldwide interfaith dialogue.

"[T]hat's the cart before the horse. They should be going to the faith-based groups for the agenda, not asking them to fit into the agenda that they have created," said Koopman, Black's coauthor for Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives. "For all of his flaws, Bush respected the independence, creativity, and savvy of faith-related groups more so than what I'm reading about the Obama approach."

It will also be difficult to measure the success of some aspects of the office. How does one know if the office is really encouraging ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Passages
Mark Young becomes president of Denver Seminary, Mary Hulst becomes chaplain of Calvin College, and other transitions in the Christian world.
RecommendedExclusive Video Premiere: Churches Take on the Billion-Dollar Industry Making the Poor Poorer
Exclusive Video Premiere: Churches Take on the Billion-Dollar Industry Making the Poor Poorer
When the state government did nothing, Texas churches stepped up to fight for change in their local communities.
TrendingWhy Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
It's one the great mysteries of ministry. Why do pastors have such a bad reputation for answering or returning phone calls? Here are 9 reasons.
Editor's PickFearless Faith in a Time of Forgetting
Fearless Faith in a Time of Forgetting
Our culture can’t remember what makes Christianity good, but there's no reason to freak out.
Christianity Today
Pressure to Prove Himself
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.