US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sunday reestablishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which will promote partnerships with religious and secular organizations to better serve people in need.
According to a White House statement, “As our country grapples with a global pandemic, a severe economic downturn, the scourge of systemic racism, an escalating climate crisis and profound polarization, President Biden knows that civil society partnerships are essential to meeting such challenges.”
According to the White House, “twenty years ago, President George W. Bush established the first White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. As President Bush said, government cannot be replaced by the efforts of religious and other community organizations, but government “can and should welcome [such organizations] as partners.”
The White House noted that in 2009, the Obama-Biden administration continued this initiative, while also putting its own stamp on its name, practices, and policies. For example, this office helped prevent foreclosure amidst the housing crisis by sharing information with more than 50,000 faith-based and community stakeholders on mortgage refinancing and scam prevention; increase the number of summer meals served to kids for a total of more than 1.2 billion summer meals served; assist communities in responding to and recovering from disasters; and train diverse faith leaders on protecting their houses of worship.
The White House said the Partnerships Office’s initial work will include collaborating with civil society to: address the COVID-19 pandemic and boost economic recovery; combat systemic racism; increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities; and strengthen pluralism. The office will also support agency partnerships that advance the United States Government’s diplomatic, international development, and humanitarian work around the world. All of this work will be done in ways that respect cherished constitutional guarantees.
Leading the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will be Melissa Rogers, who will serve as the office’s Executive Director and as Senior Director for Faith and Public Policy in the White House Domestic Policy Council.