Faith-Based Initiatives

Word has it that President Obama will name Pentecostal minister Josh DuBois head of the new and improved White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, recently born again as the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The 26 year old DuBois handled religious outreach for the Obama campaign. Since the President has pretty much decided that he is keeping the office, arguments for or against funding of faith-based organizations is moot. Those of us who believe in Separation of Church and State are supposed to rest assured since Mr. Obama has proclaimed that “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”

However, I wonder about Mr. DuBois. Aside from his thin managerial resume, his choice of religious allies is a cause for concern for lesbians and gays, their allies, and people who are against bigotry in general. He was responsible for including ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has vowed to battle “the curse of homosexuality,” in the Obama campaign’s “Embrace the Change” gospel tour in South Carolina. DuBois countered outrage with spin:

This is another example of how Barack Obama is defying conventional wisdom about how politics is done and giving new meaning to meeting people at the grassroots level … This concert tour is going to bring new people into the political process and engage people of faith in an unprecedented way.

Then he got Rick Warren to lead the invocation at the Presidential Inauguration. Should we see a pattern here?

Jennifer Vanasco, Editor in Chief of 365.com writes:

What it seems like to me is this: Obama’s religious outreach is not witchhunting or targeting gays in any way. But it also is not looking at us as important religious partners. Newsweek columnist Sally Quinn says that [Josh] DuBois was the person who first floated Rick Warren’s name as a possible inaugural speaker; DuBois, who was in charge of faith-based outreach for the Obama campaign, also put together the program that featured Donnie McClurkin, an “ex-gay” gospel singer who has said that “homosexuality is a curse.”

DuBois is young. I don’t think he did these things to send a message to gays and lesbians – I think he did those things because he doesn’t figure us in at all…

My hope is that gay religious organizations will approach DuBois’s office about funding their valuable social service programs that assist homeless queer youth, people with AIDS, and other disenfranchised LGBT communities. Any President’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships should not only be reaching out to Evangelicals – it should also be reaching out to us.

Perhaps it is DuBois’ youth and inexperience – but he did go to Boston University, Princeton and Georgetown. Pretty diverse places with visible lesbians and gays. Or is he like many African American pastors who think that there is no place in God’s table for homosexuals and transgendered individuals? Will his council be made up of people like McClurkin and Warren?

Perhaps we should talk about Separation of Church and State after all.

Related Post: Dispensable Constituency.

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