The White House God Squad

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Two months after announcing the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the White House released the full list of council members just a few hours before they meet for the first time this evening. The full list is below the jump, but just a few initial observations:

* Only two of the 25 council members come from secular organizations (Fred Davie’s Public/Private Ventures is a secular non-profit, but he is very much rooted in the faith world). That is likely to raise eyebrows among critics of the faith-based initiative and questions about whether the “and” in the council’s title is just for show.

* Former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy’s name is not on the list. Dungy’s invitation to join the council had been leaked last week and generated an immediate outcry among liberal groups like People for the American Way because of his support for an anti-gay marriage initiative in Indiana. A White House source tells David Brody that Dungy just couldn’t make all of the meetings. Believe that? Me neither. 

* With Dungy off the council, it definitely skews left. There are some notable exceptions, including Frank Page of the Southern Baptist Convention and Anthony Picarello of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

* The council has a wider range of religious diversity than we saw at faith gatherings during the Bush years, and there are more conservatives in the fold than Bush had liberals.

Each member of the Council is appointed to a one-year term.  The members of the Council are:


Diane Baillargeon, President & CEO, Seedco

*Anju Bhargava, Founder, Asian Indian Women of America


*Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ


Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association

*The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President-Elect, National Council of Churches USA


Dr. Arturo Chavez, President & CEO, Mexican American Catholic College

Fred Davie, Senior Adviser, Public/Private Ventures 

*Nathan Diament, Director of Public Policy, Orthodox Jewish Union


Pastor Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed

*Harry Knox, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign


Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church

*Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies


Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church

Dr. Frank S. Page, President emeritus, Southern Baptist Convention

Eboo S. Patel, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core

*Anthony Picarello, General Counsel , United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


*Nancy Ratzan, Board Chair, National Council of Jewish Women


Melissa Rogers, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs


Rabbi David N. Saperstein, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dr. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention, USA

Father Larry J. Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA

Richard Stearns, President, World Vision

Judith N. Vredenburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America

Rev. Jim Wallis, President & Executive Director, Sojourners

*Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Disciples of Christ (Christian Church)



NOTE: Members marked with an asterisk were announced today. The White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will be a resource for nonprofits and community organizations, both secular and faith based, looking for ways to make a bigger impact in their communities, learn their obligations under the law, cut through red tape, and make the most of what the federal government has to offer.  Other members of the Advisory Council were announced earlier this year.