Doug Holladay tries to bring moderate evangelicals and mainline Protestants in from the cold.

The most interesting personnel shifts at the White House are not always the ones that occur every four years. Washington watches staff appointees come and go with a vigilance normally reserved for storms brewing off the coast. And predicting changes in the administration as a result of turnover is a favorite Potomac pastime.

A recent ripple in the White House public liaison office may have special significance for mainline and evangelical Protestants. Doug Holladay, formerly with the Department of Education, has taken charge of building rapport between the White House and Christians who differ with the President or do not align themselves with politically conservative groups. As an associate director of public liaison, he also attends to groups representing education and the environment.

Holladay, 37, is an Episcopalian and an evangelical. He studied under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri. In the seventies he directed Young Life in Richmond, Virginia. And he has helped build a thriving network of nonpartisan fellowship groups and Bible studies in government.

Holladay is welcomed by both the pragmatists and the ideologues on the White House staff. He was recommended for the liaison post by Senate moderate Mark Hatfield (R-Oreg.) and conservative William Armstrong (R-Colo.). He says he is particularly interested in “a group [of evangelicals] in the center that gets left out. They’re not politically active like the New Right and basically have a different cultural orientation.” Liberal religious leaders and evangelicals in mainline denominations are targets as well.

“Many of these folks want to stay out of politics. They need to be educated,” ...

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