March 13th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
By Dan Merica and Adam Aigner-Treworgy, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The White House announced on Wednesday that President Barack Obama has named Melissa Rogers, a religious academic, to the highest religious outreach job in the White House.
Rogers, who worked with the Obama administration during the planning of his first inauguration in 2009, will become Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a job that includes working with outside religious groups and acting as the top White House official on religious issues.
The job was left vacant when Joshua DuBois stepped down in January after over four years in the position.
In a press release about Rogers, DuBois called her an "excellent and truly visionary choice to lead the White House faith-based office."
“There is no better person to lead the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and bring the federal government into deeper, effective and constitutional partnership with faith-based and other nonprofit groups around the country,” DuBois wrote.
In an opinion editorial for the Belief Blog, DuBois wrote that the job allowed him to meet people "who care first about God, and second about their neighbors, and seek to live this care out into the world."
Rogers steps into a White House that is dealing with a number of faith issues primarily how to handle the policy of insisting health insurance plans provide contraceptive coverage over the objections of groups like the Catholic Church and Christian leaders. The issue persisted throughout Obama’s first term in office and will likely continue into his second.
In addition, different faith groups have been pushing the White House on issues of religious freedom, gun control and immigration.
Before coming to the White House, Rogers served as the director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School and a senior fellow at the Brooking Institute.
She is a lifelong Baptist and served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
In addition serving as the head of faith-outreach at the White House, Rogers was also named a special assistant to the president.
Politico was the first to report Rogers appointment.
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