By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The White House has announced the additional members of its faith advisory council, and the list is as noteworthy for who isn't included—former Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy—as for who is (list below). I reported last week that the White House had invited Dungy to join the council—officially called the President's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships—triggering denunciations from liberal groups because of Dungy's endorsement of a same-sex marriage ban in Indiana.
A White House source tells me that Dungy ultimately declined the invitation to join the council because of scheduling conflicts; he could make only two of this year's four council meetings. "But [Dungy] has agreed to be an adviser to the president on fatherhood issues," the source tells me.
The nine newly announced additions to the council—which brings the total number of members to 25—are notable for their diversity, including members from the Muslim and Jewish traditions and a gay rights activist, and their mostly liberal orientation, though representatives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Orthodox Jewish Union have staked out conservative stands on certain hot-button issues.
Here's the list:
- Anju Bhargava, founder, Asian Indian Women of America, New Jersey
- Charles Blake, presiding bishop, Church of God in Christ, Los Angeles
- The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect, National Council of Churches USA, Minneapolis
- Nathan Diament, director of public policy, Orthodox Jewish Union, Washington
- Harry Knox, director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign, Washington
- Dalia Mogahed, executive director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Washington
- Anthony Picarello, general counsel, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington
- Nancy Ratzan, board chair, National Council of Jewish Women, Miami
- Sharon Watkins, general minister and president, Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), Indianapolis
It seems to me that the White House strategy in assembling the council was to get conservatives and evangelicals on board first, to ensure their participation, and to use this next round to go after more of the usual Democratic suspects.