Obama Names Final Names to Faith-Based Council

April 6, 2009

Author: Daniel Burke

Source: Religion News Service


President Obama named nine advisers to the White House office for religious and community groups on Monday (April 6), adding a gay rights leader, an Orthodox Jew, a black bishop and others to an eclectic 25-person council.

The bulk of the council, which will advise Obama on certain domestic and foreign policy issues, was appointed last month when the president unveiled his revamped White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The following people were added on Monday to the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships:

-- Anju Bhargava, founder of the Asian Indian Women of America

-- Bishop Charles Blake, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ

-- The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches

-- Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

-- Harry Knox, director of the religion program of the Human Rights Campaign

-- Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies

-- Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

-- Nancy Ratzan, president of the National Council of Jewish Women

-- The Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Council members, who will serve one-year renewable terms, will advise Obama on coordinating government programs with local community groups, according to the White House. Obama has named four priorities for the faith-based and neighborhood office: poverty and abortion reduction; responsible fatherhood and promoting interfaith dialogue abroad.