Biden relaunches faith-based White House office

The White House announced on Sunday that President Biden would be relaunching the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“As our country grapples with a global pandemic, a severe economic downturn, the scourge of systemic racism, an escalating climate crisis and profound polarization, President Biden knows that civil society partnerships are essential to meeting such challenges,” the White House said in a release.

The office was established 20 years ago by former President George W. Bush, the White House noted, and continued on through the Obama administration. Former President Trump did not appoint a director to the faith-based office during his tenure and its website remained blank during the four years he was in the Oval Office. Trump instead created the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, which served as the Health and Human Services Department’s “liaison to the faith community and to grassroots organizations” and sought to “champion religious liberty in all HHS programs” according to its website.

Melissa Rogers will reassume the position she held in the Obama administration as executive director of the office and as senior director for faith and public policy as part of the White House Domestic Policy Council. White House Senior Adviser for Public Engagement John Dickson will serve as deputy director of the office. He previously served as national faith engagement director for the Biden campaign.

Trey Baker, also a White House senior adviser for public engagement, will serve as the office’s liaison to Black communities.

“At a time of great challenge and opportunity, the Biden-Harris administration is re-launching this bipartisan initiative,” the White House said. “The Partnerships Office’s initial work will include collaborating with civil society to: address the COVID-19 pandemic and boost economic recovery; combat systemic racism; increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities; and strengthen pluralism.”

Biden has cited his Catholic faith as being extremely important to him throughout the years, though he has often shied away from “proselytizing.” He attended a church service before his inauguration along with other lawmakers, including those from the GOP. He often carries his late son Beau Biden’s rosary with him.

“There are not Democrats or Republicans dying from this pandemic, or losing their jobs, going hungry and facing eviction in this economic crisis, or facing the sting of systemic racism or the brunt of the climate crisis. They are fellow human beings. They are fellow Americans. And this is not a nation that can, or will, simply stand by and watch the suffering around us,” Biden said in the White House statement.

“That is not who we are. That is not what faith calls us to be. That is why I’m reestablishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to work with leaders of different faiths and backgrounds who are the frontlines of their communities in crisis and who can help us heal, unite, and rebuild,” he added.

–Updated at 1:45 p.m.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Biden Melissa Rogers Presidency of Joe Biden White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
See all Hill.TV See all Video