“The president said he wanted to reduce the need for abortions,” said Ashley Horne, federal issues analyst with Focus on the Family Action. “So, that topic would have been a natural fit for this group.”
“It’s one more strike against a president who, so far, has catered only to the pro-abortion agenda.”
Besides the abortion issue, the report has also been criticized for not including religious language. Council member Dr. Frank Page, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he appreciated the work of the advisers but he wished the report expressed the motivation behind why faith leaders care about the issues.
Nevertheless, DuBois said that he is proud of the work the office and its first advisory council has done in the first year. The office under President Obama went directly to faith leaders and community leaders, through the council, and sought their advice on how best to partner, he said.
“The previous initiative largely had a dollar-and-cents vision of their office which caused a lot of controversy,” DuBois said to The Christian Post. “We’re seeking to communicate that when we partner with faith-based groups, it doesn’t have to be about finance. It could be about sharing information with them, about building their capacity, serving as a convener, and we think that will slowly but surely help turn this initiative around.”
The new faith-based advisory council will be installed sometime this spring or summer. Advisers serve one-year terms.
Some of the recommendations made by the council include:
- Utilization of the knowledge, expertise, and on-the-ground experience of local faith- and community-based organizations to redefine the federal poverty guideline so that it more accurately measures and responds to the needs of low-income people
- Support of faith-and community-based partnerships as a means to fill the gaps in providing essential services like transportation, housing, food assistance, job training, education, and healthcare for low-income families and individuals
- Hosting of an annual Father’s Day Celebration at the White House to honor exemplary fathers and to highlight advances in father involvement resulting from the government’s interdepartmental working groups and the strategic partnerships formed at the quarterly roundtables
- Formation of an Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Environmental Protection Agency and assignment of faith- and community-based liaisons to EPA regional offices
- More partnerships with interreligious councils and women of faith networks to advance peace building and development
- Placement of Faith-Based and Civil Society Engagement Officers in USAID missions
- Reduction of barriers to obtaining 501(c)(3) recognition