The White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was started by President Bush in 2001 in order give taxpayer money to religious groups to provide social services. Even though the office spits at the spirit of the separation of church and state, President Obama kept the office and expanded it. Recently it was announced that the President would be appointing Melissa Rogers as the office’s new director. The general consensus of the various free thought groups is the appointment of Rogers is a good move and you know what means – trouble for the religious right. Hopefully.
A month ago, when Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast (another potential church/state violation), he announced that DuBois would be stepping down from his post… which brings us to a major development announced yesterday.
His replacement will be Melissa Rogers, former general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
Doesn’t sound like a step up, but trust me, it is. In fact, she could be a nightmare for the Religious Right if she’s able to make certain changes to the office.
In 2010, Rogers was part of a taskforce assigned to fix the OFBNP, a group that included the awesome Reverend Dr . Welton Gaddy (of the Interfaith Alliance) and Rev. Barry Lynn (of Americans United for Separation of Church and State).
Those recommendations forbade groups receiving federal money from “engaging in ‘explicitly religious’ activities” when doing the work they’re getting money to do.
You can also check out Hemant’s post at the link above to read a good overview of comments from the other freethought groups like the ACLU, American Humanist Association, and American’s United for Separation of Church and State among others. As he points out there still are issues with the office, like no atheists on the advisory board, but it is hoped that Rogers will be able to address those issues.
We will all be keeping an eye on things. Fingers crossed.