A Faith-Based Fix

Can Obama’s makeover of Bush’s faith initiatives speed the economic recovery?

Obama Votive Candle Stirs Collectors And Critics

Read the washingtonpost.com Live Online discussion on A FAITH-BASED FIX with The Root‘s Washington reporter Dayo Olopade.


The first month of Barack Obama’s presidency brought change to all parts to Washington—none more sweeping than the passage of his American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, designed to shock the U.S. economy out of its slump. A notable portion of the $787 billion should be coming to communities of color that have been particularly hard hit by the downturn. And one of the key vehicles for getting the money to needy citizens will be Obama’s brand-new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The president “wants one of the functions of that office to be the implementation of the Recovery Act,” said Melody Barnes, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, where the faith office will be housed. “He’s outlined a few different ways in which he hopes the office will initially be quite helpful, one of them being the connection between the bill and the reality.”

Though the specifics of the distribution have yet to be filled in, lawmakers in heavily black districts are already expressing hope about the boost to religious-based organizations. “There are huge numbers of faith-based organizations that have nonprofit groups that are serving communities, especially in this time of crisis,” said Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland following the Congressional Black Caucus’ first White House meeting with the president. “I think the administration has taken recognition of that.”

Speaking about the faith-based office recently, a senior White House official, who declined to be identified in order to speak more freely about the office, confirmed that “we’ve tasked the office with making sure these groups are plugged into the recovery.”