Hello! Producer Dana Brown Ritter here, let me first introduce myself. I'm the new girl at CBN News in Washington!
While David was under the weather yesterday, I spent 8 hours in a meeting observing the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives, at work. The meeting was around a huge table in a room at the Commerce Department. The room was filled to capacity with council members, task force members and members of the media and the public. There was certainly no shortage of ideas!
A little background -- As you know, President Obama redefined the mission of the group earlier this year. Since then, the council members have been working in task-force mode to draft recommendations to the White House in six different areas on how faith-based groups and non-profits can work with the government to better serve Americans. The meeting was headed up by White House Faith-Based Office power players Joshua DuBois and Mara Vanderslice.
Here's a look at the task force breakdown:
-Fatherhood and Healthy Families
-Economic Recovery Domestic Poverty
-Reform of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
-Global Poverty and Development
-Environment and Climate Change
The council was in "listening" mode yesterday, they'll hash out the offiical language over the next few months. So, the point was just to look at the draft and talk about it. Nothing is official at this point, but here are some highlights:
Some of the most interesting discussion centered around whether the recommendations will specifically say whether it supports families with same sex parents. They talked about "reducing the number of abortions," but didn't give any specifics of exactly how that will be accomplished.
Another really interesting debate centered around what Houses of Worship can display in the area of religious art, scripture, messages or symbols in rooms where federally funded social programs (for example, say a Head Start program) are offered.
Yet another debate was about whether it's right to specifically recommend community organizations focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Is paying special attention to that conflict okay? Or is it unfairly singling one region of the world out?
Several task forces urged the government to cut down on red tape in applying for social services, so that those who qualify for services can get easier access to programs that are already in place.
That was literally just a taste of what they discussed around the table. There are 61 recommendations, total! The President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives will present their final report to President Obama in February.
As for those debates - Joshua Dubois says there doesn't have to be an across-the-board consensus. The Council has already been in communication with government officials who would have to implement any changes, should the White House choose to follow any of the recommendations. Stay tuned!