The White House has announced nine new
appointments to its Faith Office. A gay man is in, and an anti-gay
former coach is out.
Harry Knox is among the new
appointments announced Monday to President Obama's Advisory Council
to the White House Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood
Partnerships, an extension of President Bush's Faith-Based Council
that delivered funds to church social groups. The 25-member council
met Monday for the first time and will do so again today.
Knox is the director of Human Rights
Campaign's Religion & Faith Program. HRC is the nation's largest
advocate for gay and lesbian rights. New Hampshire Bishop Rev. Gene
Robinson, the openly gay man whose 2003 consecration has splintered
the worldwide Episcopal Church into several factions, also serves
alongside Knox on the HRC panel.
Knox is a former pastor of a United
Methodist Church in Georgia.
“I hope this council will draw upon
the richness of our unique perspectives to advise the president on
policies that will improve the lives of all the people we have been
called to serve,” Knox said in a statement.
“The [gay and lesbian] community is
eager to help the administration achieve its goals around economic
recovery and fighting poverty, fatherhood and healthy families;
inter-religious dialogue; care for the environment; and global
poverty, health and development.”
Missing from the list is former
Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy, who said he decline the
president's invitation to join due to scheduling conflicts.
Last week, the news that Dungy had been
asked to advise the president on faith issues sparked outrage from
liberal and gay groups alike. Dungy supported a 2007 effort to ban
gay marriage in Indiana.
“The Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnerships council shouldn't be used to reward voices of
intolerance like Tony Dungy,” Tanya Clay House, director of public
policy at People for the American Way, said in a statement.
Groups have also criticized the
inclusion of Joel Hunter and Jim Wallis to the panel. Hunter once
headed the Christian Coalition, the most widely recognized anti-gay
and anti-abortion group in the nation. He now runs a conservative
megachurch in Florida. Wallis is a vocal opponent of gay marriage
and currently serves as president and chief executive of Sojourners,
a Washington-based evangelical magazine.