Last February, President Obama established the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and created a presidential advisory council of leading religious and secular scholars and figures to recommend changes in how these partnerships are carried out. While public attention has been focused on the economic downturn, the health care debate and two wars, the White House office has continued to foster government partnerships with religious and secular community organizations around the country. A year into the Obama administration, what is the state of the debate over these partnerships? What has changed since the Bush administration?
On February 18, the Brookings Institution hosted a forum on partnerships between government and faith-based and neighborhood groups during President Obama’s first year in office. The event focused on understanding what has been accomplished thus far. Discussion also centered on what will and should happen in this area over the rest of the president’s term.
Panelists included some of the country’s leading scholars and religious figures focused on examining partnerships with faith-based groups and other nonprofits. Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, delivered an opening address on his office’s first year and plans for the future. The forum concluded with remarks by Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.