By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Now that Tony Dungy has officially declined the Obama administration's invitation to join its faith advisory council, I'm wondering if the former NFL coach would have decided differently had evangelical groups supported him. A slew of gay rights and liberal groups blasted the invite to Dungy over his opposition to gay marriage, while the only conservative Christian group to defend it, as far as I can tell, is the Family Research Council.
Focus on the Family, whose Indiana affiliate presented Dungy with a 2007 award and was at the heart of the controversy surrounding the White House invitation, kept completely quiet.
The Indiana Focus affiliate, the Indiana Family Institute, was also mum.
So was the American Family Association. Ditto for the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy wing, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Same at Gary Bauer's American Values.
Would those groups' outspoken support for Dungy have made a difference? It could have. The Obama administration had already issued the invitation, so the ball was in Dungy's court. He had lots of folks speaking out against his participation in the council and only one advocacy group in D.C. coming to his defense. He was totally outmanned.
At a moment when a string of states are legalizing gay marriage, wouldn't groups opposed to gay marriage want every ally they can get on Obama's apparently influential faith council? Now those groups will have to deal with a council that has become considerably more liberal in its second round of appointments.