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Taking Stock: The Bush Faith-Based Initiative and What Lies Ahead

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Publication Date: June 2009

Publisher(s): Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government; Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy

Author(s): David J. Wright

Funder(s): Pew Charitable Trusts; Rockefeller Institute

Funder(s): Pew Charitable Trusts; Rockefeller Institute

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Church and state; Religious freedom; Faith-based organizations (FBO)

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


In the absence of new legislative authority, President George W. Bush moved aggressively to advance the Faith-Based Initiative through executive orders, rule changes, managerial realignment in federal agencies and other innovative uses of the prerogatives of his office. Chief among those innovations was the creation of the high-profile special White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (FBCI).

The pivotal difference in the Obama and Bush approaches to partnerships with religious groups could be seen in their stance on whether religious organizations hiring for positions funded with taxpayer money retained the right they have under the Civil Rights Act to base employment decisions on a person's faith. On Feb. 5, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13199 establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to be headed by Joshua DuBois, who was acclaimed for his work on religious issues and outreach for Obama's campaign.