Joe Biden signed an executive order last week “reestablishing” the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a relic of the George W. Bush era. The White House’s announcement of the office, however, suggests it will have little to do with faith. The issues Biden has assigned to the office pertain not to religion but to left-wing politics. The office, according to the White House announcement, will “combat systemic racism,” “increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities,” “advance international development and global humanitarian work,” and “strengthen pluralism and respect constitutional guarantees.”
Notice that last issue, which is just disguised secularism. To “strengthen pluralism and respect constitutional guarantees” means downgrading America’s Judeo-Christian traditions and placing them on the same plane as atheism. The language in the fine print of the White House announcement is telling: “Fundamental to these goals is respecting our cherished guarantees of church-state separation and freedom for people of all faiths and none, as the executive order notes. The Partnerships Office, for example, will not prefer one faith over another or favor religious over secular organizations.”
Why, then, have a “faith-based” office at all? The answer is that the Democrats find it useful to enlist the left-wing religious in their causes. Democrats like to give a religious patina to their reverse racism and big-government policies. They oppose the influence of religion on politics but not the influence of politics on religion.
Hemant Mehta, who writes a blog called “Friendly Atheist” at Patheos, cheered the news of Biden’s faithless “faith-based” office: “Joe Biden Is Restoring the White House Faith Office, But It’s No Cause for Alarm.”
Biden has appointed Melissa Rogers to be the executive director of the office. Rogers previously headed up the office under Obama and was very popular with secularist groups, according to Mehta:
[S]he generally got rave reviews from our side of the aisle. Rogers respected the Establishment Clause — so much so that her appointment was met with gushing praise from the leaders of several church/state separation groups, including Americans United, the ACLU, Interfaith Alliance, the American Humanist Association, and the Center For Inquiry.
During Rogers’ time there, the office met with the Secular Coalition for America, invited atheists to a discussion about “interfaith and community service programming on campus,” and pushed for a policy preventing groups receiving grants from preaching while using taxpayer funds.
So while the office itself was the center of a lot of criticism from the atheist community, Rogers was certainly more inclusive of us than anyone before her and the office did what it could to prevent religious proselytization at taxpayers’ expense.
The deputy director of the office is Josh Dickson, who is also popular with secularist groups. It was Dickson, says Mehta, “who helped us launch ‘Humanists for Biden’ last fall.”
Mehta reports approvingly that Americans United for Separation of Church and State is thrilled with the appointment of Rogers as executive director of the office. The group sees her as an ally in the fight to secularize the First Amendment:
We applaud President Biden for choosing Melissa Rogers to, once again, run the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships…. The Trump administration spent four years adopting policies that misused religious freedom to sanction discrimination, deny access to health care and require taxpayers to fund religion. We have confidence that the Biden administration will work hard to right these wrongs and reclaim religious freedom as a shield to protect rather than a sword to harm others. We must ensure that our laws do not allow people to use their religious beliefs to harm others.
In other words, Biden’s “faith-based” office is not based on faith but the secularist and liberal conceits of the Democratic Party. Biden seeks not to protect faith but to corrupt it by drawing the faithful into left-wing political causes. Meanwhile, as in the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, he supports using government power to coerce the faithful into violating their consciences.
One of the Left’s longstanding projects has been to take religion out of religion while putting politics into it. The latest product of this campaign is Biden’s “faith-based” office, which is not a concession to the religious but an attempt to con them.