Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today in response to the pending appointment of Josh DuBois as head of the White House Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office was previously known in the Bush Administration as the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Rev. Gaddy has been a leading critic of the office and has repeatedly called for shutting it down.

I congratulate Josh Dubois on his pending appointment as director of the Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  He is an impressive, compassionate advocate with whom I have had several opportunities to meet throughout the electoral campaign and the work of President Obama’s transition team.

In every conversation with senior officials on the transition team I have conveyed my preference for the faith based office to be eliminated and a community based office established to help the weakest, poorest, and neediest people in our nation.  However, now that a decision has been made to establish and staff another faith based office, the question remains whether or not a change in the name of the office as organized by the Bush Administration will reflect substantive change in the policies of the Obama Administration that advocates for religious liberty find acceptable.

I am cautiously optimistic regarding the new council.  The transition team has been more than willing to listen to the problems of the prior office and consider a different approach for the new office.  In recent conversations, senior transition officials assured me of President Obama’s interest in establishing a council that protects religious freedom and assures constitutional separation between the institutions of religion and government.  Toward that end, assurances were offered that members of the new council would include people from different professions and not be limited to religious leaders.  I await a final announcement that reflects these assurances.  

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.