Black Gay To Serve on Obama Policy Council on Faith-Based Initiatives

From Gay Davie, the openly gay president of Public/Private Ventures, has been named to serve on President Barack Obama’s Policy Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Davie will work to provide objective, nonpartisan advice to the president on a variety of public policy matters, including strategies to increase the effectiveness of social services delivered by community and faith-based organizations.

Before the gays break out the champaign–I don’t like the idea of government-funded social service programs to religious institutions. I don’t care who is on the decision making body (and if you look at the rest of the body, it is not clear that this is the most progressive of faith-based leaders, and they’re almost entirely Christian). Since the Bush Administration began the faith-based initiative project several years ago, it also allowed for faith-based institutions taking federal grant money to make decisions about hiring based on their, or an applicant’s, religious (read: moral) preferences. Obama, in announcing this new (but not new) office, has held off reversing this decision, which they say is under legal review, according to a story published in US News & World Report. Also, listed among the goals of the office, is to work on “abortion reduction and fatherhood participation” initiatives–both of which have the potential for more liberal, Daniel Patrick Moynihan-esque social policy that is about supporting patriarchial family structures in poor (and especially Black) communities.

I am all for churches who do good work–feeding people, caring for the sick & elderly, providing community spaces for people to gather. But I don’t want them to take money to do that work, and then turn around and preach shitty things about queers, or racist & misogynist fundamentalist churches as well. Also, what does this do to further paralyze Black churches, who have all but abandoned mass action and community organizing, to only turn them into service providers. Black churches historically have done both, but will getting government money further move them in that direction?

NOTE: I should say that I have known about Davie for many years. I used to work in workforce development where Davie is well known and very well regarded in progressive circles (you can find some of his speeches on the PPV website which seem OK. I don’t care for faith-based initiatives with government money, and have strong reservations about the office itself.