WASHINGTON — The White House announced 10 new appointees April 6 to a diverse panel that will advise President Obama on issues related to government partnerships with religious and other community-service organizations.
The appointments round out the Obama’s 25-member Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Community Partnerships. The group — and its associated White House office — are the successors to President Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Obama announced how he would structure the office and council Feb. 5, naming the first 15 members of the panel then. Four of Obama’s original appointees to the council reflect a broad range of the nation’s Baptists — former Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page, Wake Forest Divinity School Professor Melissa Rogers, retired Cleveland pastor Otis Moss and National Baptist Convention USA president William Shaw. It also included a broad range of evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and other leaders.
The new appointees include Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, mainline Protestant and African-American Pentecostal members.
One rumored invitee to the panel whose leaked name stirred controversy did not appear on the final list. Several news agencies reported March 31 that former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy had been invited to join the council, inspiring opposition from some religious-liberty and gay-rights groups. Dungy is an outspoken Southern Baptist who, when he was in Indiana, voiced support for attempts to ban same-sex marriage in that state. He has also supported other Religious Right causes.
But Dungy apparently turned down the offer because he would not be able to make some of the council’s meetings, Christian Broadcasting Network White House reporter David Brody reported on his blog April 6.
However, a spokesman for Dungy said he would serve as an adviser to Obama for his responsible-fatherhood initiative.
One of the new appointees to the faith-based council is Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program. HRC is one of the nation’s oldest and largest gay-rights organizations.
Robert Marus is managing editor and Washington bureau chief for Associated Baptist Press.