By Ken Camp // The Baptist Standard
This is an excerpt. Visit the Baptist Standard website for the full article.
WASHINGTON (RNS)—President Trump unveiled a new initiative that aims to give faith groups a stronger voice within the federal government and serve as a watchdog for government overreach on religious liberty issues.
Trump signed the executive order May 3, the National Day of Prayer, “to ensure that the faith-based and community organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the federal government,” a White House document reads. …
‘Takes more than a proclamation’
Government and religious organizations can partner in a constitutional manner, but it demands great care and hard work, said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
“Details matter. We know from our experience and advocacy efforts with the prior two administrations that government and religious organizations can partner in constitutional ways to deliver social services, but that getting it right takes more than a proclamation and a Rose Garden ceremony,” Tyler said.
“Standing up for religious freedom requires both protecting the free exercise rights of all Americans and ensuring that government neither promotes any one faith tradition nor favors religion over irreligion.”
The creation of the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative follows the initiatives of previous administrations that created similarly named offices to foster partnerships between the government and religious organizations.
President Obama launched the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, whose work ranged from fighting the Ebola and Zika viruses to feeding schoolchildren nutritious meals in the summertime.
That office, along with similar ones in 13 federal agencies, followed President George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The White House said agencies and executive departments that do not have such offices will have a designated liaison to the new initiative.