According to The New York Times, Obama has tapped Joshua DuBois, 26, the Pentecostal pastor who spearheaded arguably the most aggressive faith outreach for a Democratic presidential campaign in US history when he served as Obama’s religious affairs director.
During the Obama campaign, DuBois helped organise meetings with some of the most prominent Christian leaders in the nation, including those with markedly different views on culture war issues.
Exit polls after the November election showed that Obama had made significant gains among religious voters compared to Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry in 2004.
Prior to working for Obama, DuBois had studied political science at Boston University where he graduated cum laude. He then went to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and National Affairs where he earned a master’s degree in public affairs in 2005.
He was studying law at Georgetown University when he left to work for Obama.
Religious leaders who have been informed of DuBois’ selection say that he will not only be directing the office created by former President George W Bush, but be in charge of expanding it to help groups more effectively address social problems, according to The New York Times.
The religious leaders requested anonymity because the appointment has not yet been formally announced.
Under Obama, the office will be renamed the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and will continue to facilitate the distribution of grants to religious and community groups.
Among the most pressing issues that await DuBois when he assumes the position is the debate over whether faith-based organisations will be forced to hire people whose faith differs from theirs if they receive government money.
Bush had allowed religious groups that accepted funding to hire employees that share the same religion.
But Obama, during a campaign speech last year, said that if a group receives a federal grant then it “can’t use that grant money to proselytise to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion”.
It is unclear if Obama still plans to rescind Bush’s memorandum on the issue.
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) was created in 2001 by executive order to “level [the] playing field” for faith-based organisations seeking federal funding. It was also created to lead a “determined attack” on poverty, disease, and other social problems combining the strengths of the government and faith-based and other community organisations. Bush had called these organisations the “armies of compassion”, praising them for being able to work more effectively with the local communities and those in need than government programs alone.
As of 2008, the concept of FBCI has been replicated by 36 governors (19 Democrats, 17 Republicans). More than 100 mayors have also created an FBCI office or liaison.