There has been some talk lately about the Administration’s commitment to the separation of church and state. President Obama strongly believes that while faith-based organizations play an integral role in providing social services, their interactions with government must be grounded in sound law and policy, and must respect the Constitution. In the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, we embrace that foundational belief and work to implement it every day.
The President’s commitment in this regard has been unwavering. When he launched the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the White House noted:
As the priorities of this Office are carried out, it will be done in a way that upholds the Constitution – by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values. The separation of church and state is a principle President Obama supports firmly – not only because it protects our democracy, but also because it protects the plurality of America’s religious and civic life.
The President and our Office put these words into action. We established an Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and charged a taskforce of church/state experts with addressing key issues related to faith-based partnerships with government. The Council issued recommendations, which President Obama incorporated in a groundbreaking Executive Order. These recommendations are now informing a working group of senior officials from across government that are implementing thePresident’s Executive Order. Trainings are also being scheduled for federal agency staff on the principles included in the President’s Executive Order.
The bottom line is this: while critical issues remain, President Obama and we in the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships are committed to ensuring that we lead with our values: of constitutional separation of church and state, respect for faith-based and secular service providers alike, and commitment to doing the most good for individuals and families in need.
Joshua DuBois serves as Special Assistant to President Obama and Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.