Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today in response to the pending appointment of Josh DuBois as head of the White House Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office was previously known in the Bush Administration as the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Rev. Gaddy has been a leading critic of the office and has repeatedly called for shutting it down.

I congratulate Josh Dubois on his pending appointment as director of the Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  He is an impressive, compassionate advocate with whom I have had several opportunities to meet throughout the electoral campaign and the work of President Obama’s transition team.

In every conversation with senior officials on the transition team I have conveyed my preference for the faith based office to be eliminated and a community based office established to help the weakest, poorest, and neediest people in our nation.  However, now that a decision has been made to establish and staff another faith based office, the question remains whether or not a change in the name of the office as organized by the Bush Administration will reflect substantive change in the policies of the Obama Administration that advocates for religious liberty find acceptable.

I am cautiously optimistic regarding the new council.  The transition team has been more than willing to listen to the problems of the prior office and consider a different approach for the new office.  In recent conversations, senior transition officials assured me of President Obama’s interest in establishing a council that protects religious freedom and assures constitutional separation between the institutions of religion and government.  Toward that end, assurances were offered that members of the new council would include people from different professions and not be limited to religious leaders.  I await a final announcement that reflects these assurances.  

Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.