Dubois and Obama.jpegThe scoop, according to NYT’s Laurie Goodstein, is that President Obama will name Joshua DuBois to head COFANP, the Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships that inherits President Bush’s faith-based initiative. The 26-year-old DuBois headed religious outreach for the Obama campaign, and while he wasn’t in the inner circle of chieftains, he is by all reports close to Obama himself.
Goodstein elicited words of praise for DuBois from John DiIulio, the bigfoot professor who first ran Bush’s effort, but there’s no hiding the fact that he’s not a social service pro, from either the academic or the practitioner side. He’s about the care and feeding of the community of the faith-based, as is underscored by the fact that Goodstein got her information from “religious leaders” whom the White House had informed about the appointment.
No question, the hiring issue–whether Obama will, as promised, forbid those who receive government grants to discriminate on the basis of religion–is a biggie. But no less important is whether COFANP will absorb and act on what researchers have learned over the past decade about the nature and effectiveness of faith-based social service provision. If not, it will, like Bush’s faith-based initiative, be mostly about jollying up elements of the religious community for P.R. and political purposes.