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White House announces new appointees to faith council
February 4th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

White House announces new appointees to faith council

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

The White House announced a dozen appointments to its faith advisory council on Friday, with the leader of the nation’s largest evangelical group and the head of the nation’s leading Christian denomination serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people are both on the list.

National Association of Evangelicals President Leif Anderson and Nancy Wilson, head of the and Metropolitan Community Church - the nation’s largest denomination expressly serving LGBT Americans - are among the appointees to the panel, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Lynne Hybels, wife if megachurch pastor Bill Hybels – who leads the Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, Illinois – is also on the list.

The White House also named Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly and prominent Jewish organizational leader Susan Stern to the advisory council, which is officially called the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Stern was appointed to serve as chair of the council.

United Way CEO Brian Gallagher is also on the list.

Two other notable appointees are The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis.  Jefferts Schori is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first woman to hold that role.  Trakatellis is the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

In a statement released by the White House the President said, “I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have agreed to join this Administration, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."

The appointments come late by some estimations. The previous Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships finished and released their report in March 2010. A new council had been expected to come on soon after and continue the work they had begun. In November 2010 the President signed an executive order to implement many of the recommendations of the original council.

Here's the full list of the appointees and brief biographies released by the White House:

Susan K. Stern, Appointee for Chair, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Susan Stern currently serves as Special Advisor on Government Affairs to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which is a humanitarian assistance organization helping Jews and non Jews in Israel and in more than seventy countries around the world. Ms. Stern also serves as Chair of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service and represented the agency on the Cabinet of Governor David Paterson. Additionally, she sits on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America. Prior to her gubernatorial appointment, Ms. Stern was Chairman of the Board of UJA-Federation of New York and President and Chairman of National Women’s Philanthropy of United Jewish Communities. She has also been active in other organizations, including the Leadership Council of Repair the World, the Board of Trustees for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the University of Michigan, the Board of Directors for the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, the President’s Advisory Committee for Hebrew Union College, the Board of Directors of the Peter J. Alderman Foundation, and serves as an Alumni Fellow to the Wexner Heritage Foundation. Prior to her involvement in philanthropic causes, Ms. Stern was the first Director of Quality Assurance at the American Dental Association. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.P.H. from the University of Illinois Medical Center.

Leith Anderson, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Leith Anderson is the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization formed to facilitate Christian unity, public witness and cooperative ministry among evangelical denominations, congregations, educational institutions and service agencies in the United States. Mr. Anderson has also served as Senior Pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota since 1977. Mr. Anderson is the host of the radio programs, “Faith Matters” and “Faith Minute,” which are broadcast in cities across the country. Mr. Anderson holds a B.A. in Sociology from Bradley University, an M.Div. from Denver Seminary, a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a D.Div. from Cornerstone University.

Andrea Bazán, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Andrea Bazán is President of Triangle Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to building a prosperous and culturally rich region across North Carolina. Ms. Bazán’s career has included work in state government, academia and the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the Triangle Community Foundation, she was the Executive Director of El Pueblo, a Latino advocacy and public policy organization. Additionally, Ms. Bazán served as a community advocate before the North Carolina General Assembly for several years and held positions at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She currently sits on the boards of various entities, including Meredith College, the Nasher Museum of Duke University, the Hispanics in Philanthropy Leadership Council, and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, to which she was appointed by Governor Hunt. For many years, Ms. Bazán served as a member and was Chair of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization. Her community and student mentoring work have been recognized by the YWCA, who inducted Ms. Bazán to the Academy of Women in 2010, and by Working Mother Media in New York as well as Bennett College for Women. In 2008, Ms. Bazán was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine. She holds a B.A. from Millsaps College in Mississippi, an M.S.W. and an M.P.H. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Angela Glover Blackwell, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Angela Glover Blackwell is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Policy Link, a nonprofit organization that strives to advance economic and social equity, improving access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education and infrastructure. Prior to founding PolicyLink, Ms. Blackwell served as Senior Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she oversaw the Foundation’s Domestic and Cultural divisions. Previously, she founded the nationally-acclaimed Oakland Urban Strategies Council, where she pioneered new approaches to neighborhood revitalization. From 1977 to 1987, Ms. Blackwell was a partner at Public Advocates, a public interest law firm. She serves on numerous boards and was co-chair of the Task Force on poverty for the Center for American Progress. Ms. Blackwell is a frequent commentator on some of the nation's top news organizations. She holds a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Brian Gallagher, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Brian Gallagher is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Way Worldwide, which is the largest privately supported NGO, has 1,800 local affiliates in more than 40 countries and territories, and engages 2.5 million volunteers. From 2002-2009, Mr. Gallagher served as President and CEO of United Way of America. Under his leadership, United Way focuses its attention on education, income, and health; inviting people and organizations everywhere to give, advocate and volunteer. Mr. Gallagher began his career with United Way in 1981 as a management trainee and progressed to various United Way leadership positions throughout the United States. He holds a B.A. in Social Work from Ball State University and an M.B.A from Emory University.

Bishop Mark Hanson, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Bishop Mark Hanson is the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Bishop Hanson was elected to this position in 2001 and re-elected in 2007. Before being elected presiding Bishop, he served as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod from 1995 to 2001 and before that as pastor of three Minnesota congregations: Prince of Glory Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Edina Community Lutheran Church, and University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. From 2003 to 2010, Bishop Hanson was the 11th President of the Lutheran World Federation, where he represented the global communion of Lutheran churches. Bishop Hanson is on the Executive Council of the Executive Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Augsburg College, and was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he received an M.Div. Bishop Hanson was also a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University Divinity School and has been the recipient of honorary degrees from several colleges and universities.

Lynne Hybels, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Lynne Hybels is co-founder and Advocate for Global Engagement at the Willow Creek Community Church, a religious organization committed to maximizing individual life-transformation as well as encouraging effective leadership of local churches. For two decades, Mrs. Hybels has been involved in Willow Creek's ministry partnerships in under-resourced communities in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. She has written inspirational books and articles focusing on global poverty, HIV/AIDS, and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Under her leadership, Willow Creek is establishing an Advisory Board on Middle East Engagement. Mrs. Hybels is currently a board member of the Africa Advisory Board at Willow Creek Community Church and recently served on the U.S. Board for World Vision. She holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from Bethel College.

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, where she serves as Chief Pastor and Primate to the Episcopal Church’s members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses. Bishop Jefferts Schori is the first woman to head any of the 38 member churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion. From 2001 to 2006, she served as Bishop of Nevada. Between 1994 and 2000, she served as a priest in Oregon, working closely with the Latino community. During this time, Bishop Jefferts Schori was a hospice chaplain, and taught at Oregon State University. Before she pursued her studies for the priesthood, Bishop Jefferts Schori was a research oceanographer. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in Oceanography from Oregon State University, an M.Div. from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctorates.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is the Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative and Masorti Rabbis, founded in 1901. Rabbi Schonfeld is a leader in world Jewish affairs and an advocate for religious freedom and pluralism. She serves the Jewish and broader religious communities in a number of capacities including as a member of the Global Initiative for Faith, Health and Development of the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, as a member of the Summit on Religious Leadership in Response to HIV and as a board member of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. From 2001-2009, Rabbi Schonfeld served as Director of Rabbinic Development for the Rabbinical Assembly. In this capacity, she spearheaded numerous landmark initiatives on behalf of the Rabbinical Assembly in areas such as career mentoring, mediation, dispute resolution, women’s advancement, professional boundaries and ethics. From 1996 to 2001, Rabbi Schonfeld served as the rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, an historic congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where she was known for her dynamic preaching, innovative approaches to experiential education and community leadership. She holds a B.A. in history from Yale University, and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis is currently the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, the Exarch (plenipotentiary representative) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in the U.S.A., and the permanent President of the Assembly of 65 canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America. In 1999, Archbishop Demetrios was elected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to lead the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. He is the spiritual leader of more than 1.5 million Greek Orthodox faithful in the United States and holds leadership and advisory positions in organizations which promote dialogue and reconciliation. Additionally, Archbishop Demetrios is active in interfaith and intercultural dialogues, in religious freedom and human rights advocacy, and in providing Church assistance in national and international cases of major catastrophic events, such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami in Indonesia. From 1983 to 1993, he served as the Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts and as Visiting Professor of New Testament at Harvard Divinity School from 1984 to 1985 and 1988 to 1989. Having been elected Bishop of Vresthena in 1967 in the Archdiocese of Athens, Greece, Archbishop Demetrios served in this position with special responsibility for the education of the clergy until 1999. In 1968, he was elected Metropolitan of Attika and Megaris, but he did not accept the post for reasons related to the canonical order of the Church. Archbishop Demetrios graduated with distinction from the University of Athens School of Theology in 1950. He also received a Ph.D. (with distinction) in New Testament and Christian Origins from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1972, as well as a second doctorate, namely a Th.D. in Theology, from the University of Athens in 1977.

Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Sister Marlene Weisenbeck is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Sister Weisenbeck is an officer and past president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a canonically approved membership organization which exists as a support system and corporate voice for leaders of religious institutes of Catholic Sisters in the United States. She also serves as Chairperson of the Catholic Health Association’s Sponsorship/Canon Law Committee and is a consultant in religious law. Sister Weisenbeck was president of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from 2002-2010. She is also past president of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious and Chancellor for the Diocese of La Crosse. Sister Weisenbeck holds a B.M. Ed. degree from Viterbo University, an M.M. from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, a J.C.L. in Canon Law from Saint Paul University-Ottawa, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson is currently the Moderator (Global Leader) for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches which has hundreds of churches in 38 countries. Rev. Wilson is also one of the nation's leading LGBT pastors. She has been a pastor in multiple Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) congregations including congregations in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California. Rev. Wilson is the former senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, considered the founding church of the Metropolitan Community Church movement. For twenty years, she served as MCC's Chief Ecumenical Officer, representing the congregation at the National Council of Churches and World Council Churches. Rev. Wilson has been an active voice on HIV issues, prisoner treatment programs, LGBT issues, and women's rights. She holds a B.A. from Allegheny College and an M.Div. from SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Church and state • DC • Politics • United States

soundoff (137 Responses)
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    March 8, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  4. Royce

    My only question for all is In the History of Europe what were the four world ruling bodies?
    I remember studing Medes /Persion impire; Greece, then the Roman impire; What was the first?
    I remember studing about Alexander the Great of Greece?
    OK, before you discount the Bible as not being from the Father in Heaven, A chalenge for any one...
    Find a King James Version, then look up the book of Daniel, read chapters 7-8 and 9.
    These chapters were found in full in the 'Dead Sea Scrolls, check them out. If you find any of the words of those chapters in contridiction of the none history of Europe, let me know.
    Then if you really want to get into history check out these subjects- Jesuits, Inquisition,
    and the years 457BC to 1844 (2,300years) What happened in the US on Nov. 13, 1833?
    also 457BC to 1798 (1,260 years) What happened in Europe in 1798?
    Still qurious? look up this website - earthquake.usgs.gov compare that with what can be read in Matthew chapter 24.
    Take the challenge--

    March 8, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  5. Jessica

    It is not a very inter-faith based list. It would have been nice to see someone from the Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, Native American communities in there. If the Atheists want someone to represent them, why not? They have a right not to believe as much as any one else has the right to believe.

    February 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Picks of sura Al-Tawba verses;  
    Al-Tawba sura 09:
    And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! (30) They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no god save Him. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! (31) Fain would they put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah disdaineth (aught) save that He shall perfect His light, however much the disbelievers are averse. (32) He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse. (33) O ye who believe! Lo! many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah. They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom, (34) On the day when it will (all) be heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith (and it will be said unto them): Here is that which ye hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what ye used to hoard. (35). 

    The hypocrites, both men and women, proceed one from another. They enjoin the wrong, and they forbid the right, and they withhold their hands (from spending for the cause of Allah). They forget Allah, so He hath forgotten them. Lo! the hypocrites, they are the transgressors. (67) Allah promiseth the hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers fire of hell for their abode. It will suffice them. Allah curseth them, and theirs is lasting torment. (68) .

    And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise. (71) Allah promiseth to the believers, men and women, Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide – blessed dwellings in Gardens of Eden. And – greater (far)! – acceptance from Allah. That is the supreme triumph. (72) .

    There hath come unto you a messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, merciful. (128) Now, if they turn away (O Muhammad) say: Allah sufficeth me. There is no God save Him. In Him have I put my trust, and He is Lord of the Tremendous Throne. (129).

    February 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Al-Maeda sura 05: 
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Allah made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We raised among them twelve Chieftains, and Allah said: Lo! I am with you. If ye establish worship and pay the poor-due, and believe in My messengers and support them, and lend unto Allah a kindly loan, surely I shall remit your sins, and surely I shall bring you into gardens underneath which rivers flow. Whoso among you disbelieveth after this will go astray from a plain road. (12) And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly. (13) And with those who say: "Lo! we are Christians," We made a covenant, but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished. Therefor We have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the Day of Resurrection, when Allah will inform them of their handiwork. (14) O People of the Scripture! Now hath Our messenger come unto you, expounding unto you much of that which ye used to hide in the Scripture, and forgiving much. Now hath come unto you light from Allah and plain Scripture, (15) Whereby Allah guideth him who seeketh His good pleasure unto paths of peace. He bringeth them out of darkness unto light by His decree, and guideth them unto a straight path. (16) They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. Say: Who then can do aught against Allah, if He had willed to destroy the Messiah son of Mary, and his mother and everyone on earth? Allah's is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He createth what He will. And Allah is Able to do all things. (17) The Jews and Christians say: We are sons of Allah and His loved ones. Say: Why then doth He chastise you for your sins? Nay, ye are but mortals of His creating. He forgiveth whom He will, and chastiseth whom He will. Allah's is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and unto Him is the journeying. (18) O People of the Scripture! Now hath Our messenger come unto you to make things plain unto you after an interval (of cessation) of the messengers, lest ye should say: There came not unto us a messenger of cheer nor any warner. Now hath a messenger of cheer and a warner come unto you. Allah is Able to do all things. (19)..

    Al-Maeda sura 05:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah's Scripture as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And barter not My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers. (44) And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (45) And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (46) Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers. (47) And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee. For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works. Unto Allah ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ. (48) So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires, but beware of them lest they seduce thee from some part of that which Allah hath revealed unto thee. And if they turn away, then know that Allah's Will is to smite them for some sin of theirs. Lo! many of mankind are evil-livers. (49) Is it a judgment of the time of (pagan) ignorance that they are seeking? Who is better than Allah for judgment to a people who have certainty (in their belief)? (50).

    Al-Maeda
    The Jews say: Allah's hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters. (64) If only the People of the Scripture would believe and ward off (evil), surely We should remit their sins from them and surely We should bring them into Gardens of Delight. (65) If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them there are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct. (66) O Messenger! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord, for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect thee from mankind. Lo! Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk. (67) Say O People of the Scripture! Ye have naught (of guidance) till ye observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto you from your Lord. That which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them. But grieve not for the disbelieving folk. (68) Lo! those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabaeans, and Christians – Whosoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (69).

    Al-Maeda sura 05:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. (72) They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. (73) Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (74) The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away! (75) Say: Serve ye in place of Allah that which possesseth for you neither hurt nor use? Allah it is Who is the Hearer, the Knower. (76).

    Al-Maeda sura 05:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed. (90) Satan seeketh only to cast among you enmity and hatred by means of strong drink and games of chance, and to turn you from remembrance of Allah and from (His) worship. Will ye then have done? (91) Obey Allah and obey the messenger, and beware! But if ye turn away, then know that the duty of Our messenger is only plain conveyance (of the message). (92) There shall be no sin (imputed) unto those who believe and do good works for what they may have eaten (in the past). So be mindful for your duty (to Allah), and do good works; and again; be mindful your duty, and believe; and once again: be mindful your duty, and do right, Allah loveth the good. (93).

    February 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  8. Muneef

    Al-Anaam sura 06:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Say: Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord hath forbidden to you: that ye ascribe no thing as partner unto Him and that ye do good to parents, and that ye slay not your children because of penury – We provide for you and for them – and that ye draw not nigh to lewd things whether open or concealed. And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern. (151) And approach not the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better, till he reach maturity. Give full measure and full weight, in justice. We task not any soul beyond its scope. And if ye give your word, do justice thereunto, even though it be (against) a kinsman; and fulfil the covenant of Allah. This He commandeth you that haply ye may remember. (152) And (He commandeth you, saying): This is My straight path, so follow it. Follow not other ways, lest ye be parted from His way. This hath He ordained for you, that ye may ward off (evil). (153).

    Al-Anaam sura 06:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Lo! As for those who sunder their religion and become schismatics, no concern at all hast thou with them. Their case will go to Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do. (159) Whoso bringeth a good deed will receive tenfold the like thereof, while whoso bringeth an ill-deed will be awarded but the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (160) Say: Lo! As for me, my Lord hath guided me unto a straight path, a right religion, the community of Abraham, the upright, who was no idolater. (161) Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. (162) He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him). (163) Say: Shall I seek another than Allah for Lord, when He is Lord of all things? Each soul earneth only on its own account, nor doth any laden bear another's load. Then unto your Lord is your return and He will tell you that wherein ye differed. (164) He it is Who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and Lo! He verily is Forgiving, Merciful. (165).

    February 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  9. Carolan

    Where are the muslim, hindu, buddhist, pagan/wiccan etc. representatives on this council?

    February 8, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Muneef

      Guess first he wants to unite the Christian branches with them selves before he goes to ask others to form a similar unification with their branches for a final round with all councils heads of all religions to bring up peace and respect among them all (I Hope).!?

      February 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Danii

      "Where are the muslim, hindu, buddhist, pagan/wiccan etc. representatives on this council?" (Carolan)

      Great question. Simple answer: there aren't any. I'm going to be completely honest here. Christians hate the Pagan/Wiccan religion. They hate it. (http://paganwiccan.about.com/b/2011/02/04/the-catholic-church-wants-to-cure-you-of-witchiness.htm)(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1353517/Catholic-Church-issues-guide-convert-Harry-Potter-witches-Christianity.html) They're also dissing Harry Potter. But back on track...I don't mean to stereotype anyone. Personally, my best friend is Christian and she's completely cool with me being Wiccan.
      But in actuality, we'll be lucky if we see many different types of religions on this council. The U.S. is predominantly Christian. Therefore, too keep the majority happy, the council will be mostly Christian.
      But what do I know? I'm 17.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Muneef

      Danii.
      As per Concise Oxford English it says (Wicca) the religious cult of modern witchcraft. Derivatives; Wiccan??
      What is that? Is it any thing like Harry Potter's thing ??
      Any way it does not tell if you believe in God or not or who do you worship as your top witch force??

      February 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  10. Religions are a scam

    God existence is as relevant as touching oneself – I.e. keep the personal crap to yourself!

    All religions are the subjugation of self & others – no more; no less. Don't fool yourself, there is nothing humbling about religions.

    February 8, 2011 at 3:42 am |
  11. Religions are a scam

    On agnostic and atheists' tax dollars! Hmmm...

    February 8, 2011 at 3:40 am |
  12. Muneef

    Al-Alaq sura 96:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth, (1) Createth man from a clot. (2) Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, (3) Who teacheth by the pen, (4) Teacheth man that which he knew not. (5) Nay, but verily man is rebellious (6) That he thinketh himself independent! (7) Lo! unto thy Lord is the return. (8) Hast thou seen him who dissuadeth (9) A slave when he prayeth? (10) Hast thou seen if he relieth on the guidance (of Allah) (11) Or enjoineth piety? (12) Hast thou seen if he denieth (Allah's guidance) and is froward? (13) Is he then unaware that Allah seeth? (14) Nay, but if he cease not We will seize him by the forelock – (15) The lying, sinful forelock – (16) Then let him call upon his henchmen! (17) We will call the guards of hell. (18) Nay, Obey not thou him. But prostrate thyself, and draw near (unto Allah). (19).

    February 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Yackety-yack and on and on goes the koranic-based drivel !!!!

      February 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Can we say the same thing about your many cut and paste post?

      Excluding the bad words post. :)

      February 7, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Reality

      Christian drivel as in the Roman Catholic version of the Apostles' Creed:

      "1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
      2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
      3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
      4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
      5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
      6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
      7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
      8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
      10. the forgiveness of sins,
      11. the resurrection of the body,
      12. and life everlasting.

      Amen.

      February 7, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Muneef

      4Reality.

      Al-Maeda sura 05:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. (72) They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. (73) Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (74) The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away! (75) Say: Serve ye in place of Allah that which possesseth for you neither hurt nor use? Allah it is Who is the Hearer, the Knower. (76).

      February 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  13. Muneef

    Al-Asr sura 103:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    By the declining day, (1) Lo! man is a state of loss, (2) Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. (3).

    Al-Bayyina sura 98:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters could not have left off (erring) till the clear proof came unto them, (1) A messenger from Allah, reading purified pages (2) Containing correct scriptures. (3) Nor were the People of the Scripture divided until after the clear proof came unto them. (4) And they are ordered naught else than to serve Allah, keeping religion pure for Him, as men by nature upright, and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion. (5) Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings. (6) (And) lo! those who believe and do good works are the best of created beings. (7) Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden underneath which rivers flow, wherein they dwell for ever. Allah hath pleasure in them and they have pleasure in Him. This is (in store) for him who feareth his Lord. (8).

    Al-Adiyat sura 100:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    By the snorting coursers, (1) Striking sparks of fire (2) And scouring to the raid at dawn, (3) Then, therewith, with their trail of dust, (4) Cleaving, as one, the centre (of the foe), (5) Lo! man is an ingrate unto his Lord (6) And lo! he is a witness unto that; (7) And lo! in the love of wealth he is violent. (8) Knoweth he not that, when the contents of the graves are poured forth (9) And the secrets of the breasts are made known, (10) On that day will their Lord be perfectly informed concerning them. (11).

    February 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  14. The Adm

    Whoa Nellie! What happened to separation of church and state? There should be NO prayer breakfasts, Congressional Chaplains or discussion of any religious theory or intent by ANY governmental official while on duty.

    This nation was founded on the basis of protection FROM religion least we forget that.

    February 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Whoa Adm !!! :)

      Its had a religious underpinnings since the start.

      The Nation was founded on the basis to protect Religion from Government control. So that there is not a set state controlled religion.

      February 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • 425

      Actually, both are true. But Mark, how can religion be protected from government with things like a faith advisory council? They are probably all Christians. Therefore, Judaism, Mohammedanism and other faiths aren't being protected.

      February 6, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      " But Mark, how can religion be protected from government with things like a faith advisory council? They are probably all Christians. "

      425 – Dear friend, I am upset that there are no Imans or Buddist but there is a Rabbi or two. Maybe its a start but I do notice that there is a person that represents LGBT issues. Maybe this is part of his plan to tackle gay marriage in Christianity. There does not seem to be a push for for Gay and Lesbian marriage in the mosques or temples.

      February 7, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      Mark,

      I'm not certain there is a push for gay marriage in catholic churches either. In America, marriage is a civil contract. That's why judges can perform the ceremony and the state issues a marriage license. It does not HAVE to be a religious event.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Danii

      Adm, I completely and totally agree with you. There should definitely be a separation of Church and State. Our government officials should not be bringing religion into government. All it will do is cause controversy and corruption and also favortism. Soon we'll have elections based on religion rather than ability.
      I also happened to notice there are no Pagans on this Council....mostly just Christians. I honestly find this completely unfair, seeing as there is more than just Christianity in our country. I myself am Wiccan and I would like to see a Pagan of two on this Council.
      In all actuality, I'd like to see this whole entire council abolished. Use the money to fund education instead of the pockets of greedy politicians.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  15. Muneef

    The truth is that a secular state is the best thing for the country and all religions that fall under it. A religous state means no freedom for individuals and for various religions or branches of the major religion that is in the ruling seat....! Secular for a state means creativity and invention while religion could mean hibernating many freedoms of all and becomes as good as dictatorship to those different to it...

    February 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Wow, we agree completely. Somebody write this down.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Muneef

      Great but I am not happy with laws which are being soft dealt with against crime activities...therefore suggest to be dealt with as the Holy Books of God states...

      Al-Maeda sura 05:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah's Scripture as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And barter not My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers. (44) And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (45) And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (46) Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers. (47) And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee. For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works. Unto Allah ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ. (48) So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires, but beware of them lest they seduce thee from some part of that which Allah hath revealed unto thee. And if they turn away, then know that Allah's Will is to smite them for some sin of theirs. Lo! many of mankind are evil-livers. (49) Is it a judgment of the time of (pagan) ignorance that they are seeking? Who is better than Allah for judgment to a people who have certainty (in their belief)? (50).

      February 9, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  16. Joreg

    Lot's of grammatical errors in your article – see first few paragraphs.

    February 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  17. Mark from Middle River

    She is a lesbian that has been with the same partner for over thirty years. She has worked for same s-ex marriage and other gay rights. What is it that you hate about her. That she is not down at the local church sieging the front doors? I am a FoxNews guy and I don't have that much love for Obama's politics but I am happy when folks organize opportunities for people of different backgrounds to come together.

    John, Obama has sat a Lesbian down at a table with a group of folks that, on a good chance, disagree with her lifestyle. That Nancy Wilson has chosen to sit down across the table with some that might wish her gone..is enough reason for you to open your heart and at least give her your support as a gay man.

    I am not gay but, I gotta admire her guts to be apart of such a forum.

    February 6, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Begrudgingly I say thanks to Reality and for the cut and paste words list.

      ....now if yah could just drop the other cut and paste ones. :)

      February 6, 2011 at 5:11 am |
    • Reality

      For all BO's Christian-based groups to read and comprehend:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      February 6, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  18. Mark from Middle River

    Flash forward over a hundred years and we are now the largest African American church in the country. We even have churches in other countries, even one in Ja-pan. You call it a "faith ghetto" and I feel that is a very hurtful thing to say to those that attend these parishes. I have visited a LGBT church before and I did not see it as a place for downtrodden souls, as you would call a ghetto.

    February 6, 2011 at 5:05 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.