Blogging from the Religion Newswriters Association meeting in Minneapolis, USA Today‘s Cathy Grossman reports some unhappiness on the part of members of the 25-member advisory board of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFANP). They seem to feel a bit like window dressing, in the sense that they are not being given the chance to deal with the big policy issues, like immigration and housing and health care. In the case of the big faith-based policy issue–the question of what the hiring rules should be for faith-based recipients of public monies–the White House booted resolution over to the Justice Department, which has so far not delivered itself of anything that’s seen the light of day.
In fact, it’s a tribute to the political adroitness of the White House that it’s managed to focus virtually all the modest amount attention paid to the Faith-Based 2.0 (the Obama version) on the advisory board, and not on what the administration might or might not actually be doing to continue to curtail the extensive Bush administration efforts to pump up faith-based social service activity. Advisers are, well, just advisers. Is anything going on in the agencies themselves? Thus far, the reporting has been non-existent.