The White House released some new additions to President Obama's Faith Council. Read the names and then get my take:
Additional Faith Council Members Announced Today:
Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ Los Angeles, CA
Anthony Picarello, General Counsel , United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Washington, DC
Harry Knox, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign Washington, DC
Anju Bhargava, Founder, Asian Indian Women of America New Jersey
The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President-Elect, National Council of Churches USA Minneapolis, MN
Nathan Diament, Director of Public Policy, Orthodox Jewish Union Washington, DC
Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies Washington, DC
Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) Indianapolis, IN
Nancy Ratzan, Board Chair, National Council of Jewish Women Miami, FL
Faith Council Members Announced Earlier
Diane Baillargeon, President & CEO, Seedco New York , NY
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association Chicago, IL
Dr. Arturo Chavez, President & CEO, Mexican American Catholic College San Antonio , TX
Fred Davie, Senior Adviser, Public/Private Ventures New York , NY
Pastor Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed Longwood, FL
Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church Knoxville, TN
Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church Cleveland, OH
Dr. Frank S. Page, President emeritus, Southern Baptist Convention Taylors, SC
Eboo S. Patel, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core Chicago, IL
Melissa Rogers, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs Winston-Salem , NC
Rabbi David N. Saperstein, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Washington , DC
Dr. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention, USA Philadelphia , PA
Father Larry J. Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA Alexandria , VA
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision Bellevue , WA
Judith N. Vredenburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America Philadelphia , PA
Rev. Jim Wallis, President & Executive Director, Sojourners Washington , DC
Look, here's a shock for you: the Council is mostly liberal. Is anybody really surprised though? Having said that, the President's faith team is clearly making an attempt to reach out to some serious pro-lifers too. I mean one of the new members, Bishop Charles Drake , called out President Obama on the abortion issue at the Democratic Convention. Read more about that here.
Also, Anthony Picarello, General Counsel, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is as pro-life as they come and had challenged Obama on the conscience protection issue. Frank Page and Joel Hunter are solid pro-life, pro-traditional marriage guys too. So you know what we have here? We have exactly the type of Faith Council that Obama wants. He is looking for a diverse range of opinions and ideas. Well, guess what? He's got it.
Of course the danger is here is that you tick off both progressives and conservatives and are left with nothing to work with. But the idea here is to get all these folks in a room and see where it leads. Maybe through all the differences there may be some consensus somewhere. I know…I know…the skeptics will say no way and they make have a point. Look, this thing is a gamble. It could backfire if conservative Christians on the Council walk away claiming they were just window dressing and part of a smorgasbord of liberal mumbo jumbo but I don't think that'll happen. The Obama administration better make sure that doesn't happen because if it does, this whole thing will start to look ideological real fast. The White House has no desire to have this thing turn into an ideological tug-of-war but the thinking here is that it probably won't because the conservative Christians who agreed to be on the council know the deal. They understand they are outnumbered but are less interested in the numbers game and are more interested in finding solutions and representing traditional values. An ideological fight would not serve any of the council members in a positive way.
So as an Evangelical Christian you may not like the entire makeup of the council but would you rather have ZERO conservative Christians on it? Would you rather have the traditional values camp left outside the door? Maybe the answer is yes with the thinking being that let the liberals be left alone to their own version of a faith council. I'm sure you'll find plenty of Evangelical Christians who believe that having conservative Christian leaders on this council is a problem because it waters down the traditional message. It's an interesting discussion worth having. I think we'll have a better idea of how this plays out once we see some of the council's recommendations on abortion, fatherhood initiatives and other topics.