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Melissa Rogers named to top White House religious outreach job
March 13th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Melissa Rogers named to top White House religious outreach job

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.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Politics

soundoff (251 Responses)
  1. Phillip

    The fact is, no religion is actually more likely to hand you truth or salvation than any other. If any of them are right about God and God's rules, there's just no way for us to know which one it is. If there was, we'd all have picked the same religion by now.

    That means atheists understand that no person believing one religion over another has any real justification for doing so. Communication styles, rituals, and norms – these can differ between people and still be true in their contexts, but statements about the ultimate, like "Heaven can only be reached via Mormonism," have no grounds.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  2. Philip

    How did America come to be addicted to drugs?
    Currently, Americans spend more tax dollars on mind-altering meds than they do on what is called 'National Defense'!
    How on earth did this happen?
    Americans used to be the most productive and physically fit peoples who ever walked this earth. How did we become such an overly obese nation hooked on drugs?

    March 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • .

      The lying troll is back under a new name, not Answerman.

      Get an education you idiot.

      March 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Phillip

    America's Christian Right invests a lot of effort arguing for a connection between family values and their religion, but what basic family values require their religion or belief in their god? Godless families exist because values like love, respect, and sacrifice don't depend upon theism.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  4. Philip

    Not long after the apostles chosen by Christ died, the foretold apostacy set-in. The pagan Roman Empire becamee known as The Holy Roman Empire, as men calling themselves "christians" began to rule the world and mix pagan customs with Christianity. Pagan Rome's Feast of Saturnalia, celebrated long before Christ on Dec 25 of each year, was magically changed into the birthdate of Jesus, for example.
    ALL modern translations of God's word hide the fact that the practice of taking mind-altering meds and drugs was BANNISHED among Christians living in the 1st century. Modern versions of God's word mistranslate 'pharmakeia', a greek word meaning "druggery", to read 'witchcraft', 'sorcery', or the practice of spiritism. Pharmakeia is how God's enemies control people who have been dumbed-down by drugs to the point of seeing God as some sort of patriot, and seeing his son as some kind of buddy.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  5. Philip

    Both America herself and America's "christian" religions were founded by freemasons and high-ranking freemasons, the illuminati.
    The entire Supreme Court of israel is ruled by illuminati, complete with a wooden cross inlaid into the floor where they trample on it while deliberating cases.
    What American's call "christianity" is anything but.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  6. Philip

    Faith in God is not needed to run a country. The pagan Roman Empire, for example. The pagan Greek Empire, pagan Persian Empire, pagan Egyptian Empire, etc, had zero faith in the God of the bible and lasted thousands of years where the US founded by the faith of Freemasons. has only lasted a couple of hundred years. (before sinking to the low sink of debauchery that has brought down every empire)
    FDR was a 33rd degree freemason, an illuminati, for example. Dwight D. Eishower was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, for another.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  7. Ignernt American

    I will debate God with my fellow citizens, but refuse to even bring-up the subject of 'God and the bible' with men I vote for, in other words.

    March 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  8. Ignernt American

    I will personally attack and insult fellow citizens who profess belief in God, but will not question Bush nor Obama's belief in God and will vote for them again.

    March 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Thoth

      Are you able to differentiate between 'attack' and 'debate'?

      March 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Akira

      You seem to think you know how deep Bush's and Obama's faith is. Well, of course you don't, but that won't stop you posting as Answerman or Ignernt American.
      Being as faith in God isn't necessary to run a country, and indeed, separation on church and state is desirable, you point, convoluted as it is, is moot.
      Hint: buy yourself a journal. You don't seem to desire debate; you seem to just want to see your words. A journal would satisfy your desire.

      March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  9. Thoth

    So how much does a "religious outreach" position cost tax payers? And who is reaching out to non-believers?

    March 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  10. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog since the current members know how to balance the budget:

    In order to pay down our $16 trillion debt, we need to redirect money used to support religions especially the christian and islamic cons and put it towards paying off our obligations..

    To wit:

    Redirecting our funds and saving a lot of "souls":

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.
    – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

    Giving to religious groups in 2010, totaled $95.8 billion,

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    March 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  11. Ignernt American

    There is no God. I will now vote for a man who claims there is. That's how smart I am. 🙂

    March 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Tell us all how you've managed to access everyone's voting records. Oh, that's right, you haven't.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  12. Answerman

    Disbelieving in the existence of gods should be considered a realistic option in the context of skeptical questions about theism, because it is possible that the atheistic challenges cannot be met by theism. If it is true that theism is not up to the task, then atheism remains the only rational option. In other words, if one is not able to offer a good, rational basis for accepting theism in the face of atheist questions, then atheism is a reasonable path — and perhaps the only reasonable one.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      What does this or any of your non-stop posts have to do with the topic of this story?

      Answerman...answering questions that no one asked.
      Thanks for your uselessness.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Answerman,

      This =====> _#&%^&@#ss#$%_ <====== is YOUR brain when hooked on religious fantasies and superst'itions.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  13. Answerman

    Theists who are open-minded should take seriously the skeptical questions about their beliefs, because to do anything else requires assuming that it is impossible that they could be mistaken. Atheism can offer one of the most serious skeptical challenges to theism because atheists don’t simply doubt this or that doctrine — atheists disbelieve even the most fundamental characteristic of any theistic system, the belief in a god.

    In addition, for many theistic belief systems, the very existence of atheists poses a serious challenge. Many theists believe in a loving, omnipotent god who wants everyone to believe in it. If that is true, then how could it be possible for anyone to not believe? That atheists exist would suggest that, if a god exists, then this god isn’t too bothered by the presence of doubt and disbelief among humans.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  14. Answerman

    You non-believers will get your wish. America will soon be led by a president who thinks BushOBama's hellgod to be a fairy tale god, and organized religion will be abolished. Personally, I look forward to that day...for the theme of the bible is this: The vindication of God's great and holy name. (a name that has been defamed by "christian" leaders such as Bush and Obama)

    March 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  15. Answerman

    "is totally ignorant of God's word the bible."

    You have to prove God does exist. Otherwise it is perfectly valid to claim that I have frequent debates with the ghost of Elvis Presley in ancient Hebrew. You can't see Elvis because he doesn't want you to see him, and I don't have to prove to you I can speak ancient Hebrew, you have to prove I can't. The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim not the person refuting it. Ah, but I'm making a claim you say. I'm claiming there is no God. Incorrect. I am refuting your claim that there is a God. It's even in the name of the group I identify with: Atheist. Theists believe in a God, Atheist are people who aren't Theists. You are making an assertion and I am disagreeing with you. I don't have to prove you wrong. You must prove yourself right.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Answerman

    And now the imps have resorted to hijacking my personal s/n. (at 12:02PM)
    Which god? Well, the god of the men you vote for. The hellgod...a fairy tale god of Bush and Obama that doesn't even resemble the one true God of the bible those men swear on.
    Your president Obama, for example, can speak near-perfect arabic and has done so reciting the entire Koran. Yet, as was shown during his debate with Representative Keyes, is totally ignorant of God's word the bible.
    Americans who diss God then vote for men claiming to believe in a hellfire wolf god...what's up with that?

    March 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  17. Answerman

    Religion brings us laws and morality and without God we wouldn't have these things and the world would be chaos. You have a very poor view of humanity I think. Religion does do a lot to build community and bring people together, but the problem is you have to be part of the group, if you're not than all those good things that are preached in the Church don't necessarily apply to you. That is the tradition Religion encourages, divisive in groups that dehumanize those not in the group. The list of crimes committed by those claiming to act on behalf of God goes all the way back to the dawn of beliefs in pantheons of Gods. Please don't try to argue that those people weren't acting in line with the true nature of the faith. Particularly if we're talking about something like the Inquisition. The Bible supports things like the inquisition. It also supports taking care of those in need. It does both at the same time. It says that doing these terrible things to this group of people is okay, but don't forget about your responsibilities to your neighbors to help them out when they need it. There are good messages in there with all the passages that support slavery, abusing women, and killing people with different beliefs than yours. Morality and laws and being a decent human being is completely independent of believing in God or not. I'm more worried about the people who insist that everything will fall apart if people stop believing in God and that if people aren't afraid of eternal punishment like Hell, then there will be nothing to stop a constant stream of rape and murder. I fear for people around that person should they ever lose their faith. If the only thing stopping you from being a horrible person is that you believe God will punish you, then you have problems.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Which God?

      answerman says : " The Bible supports things like the inquisition." So, let me see, it would be fine if I torture you because you do believe, and because I don't like what you beileve? Your religion did it to one of their own saints. St Joan of Arc. They BBQ'd her. Your babble supports that? You must think the qur'an is true as well, as death and torture is to be carried out to all infidels, those who don't follow islam. This includes you, answerman.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • .

      WhichGod? this is a different Answerman than the other one, did you read the whole thing?

      March 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Which God?

      "dot." Thanks for pointing this out. I thought I was replying to the right post. 🙂

      March 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  18. Answerman

    It's arrogant for me to assume I know God doesn't exist. I'm always taken aback by this one. It's a rather personal attack. Yet, it's one of the more frequent arguments. My only response to this question really comes down to "why?" Why is it arrogant for me to look at a subject and point out that the claims made can't be proven, or in this case even tested? I'm not trying to be arrogant, I'm saying due to a lack of evidence sufficient to satisfy me intellectually I do not believe the claim being made. Now you can hand me the Bible and say here is the evidence and tell me about your own spiritual awakening if you like, but anecdotal evidence isn't good enough. Sorry. The Bible's veracity is at best questionable. The life of Jesus is virtually the same story as dozens of other mythological characters throughout western history, including Oedipus, Heracles, Osiris, Theseus, and Odysseus. His story wasn't even written down until at least 40 years after his supposed death and the details of that life are inconsistent with the Historical context they supposedly occurred in

    March 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  19. Answerman

    I strongly assert there is no God. Nor do I believe there is any other unifying mysterious inexplicable force in the Universe that I have to accept solely on faith. I don't believe aliens from beyond the moon have come to Earth probe people's rectums either. Nor do I believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Big Foot, or that there is such a thing as an honest politician.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Which God?

      @answerman. I believe there are aliens. There are a few posting on this blog.Like answerman, Chad, l4h, et al. Yep, aliens with strange beliefs in a resurected body of a nobdy, of and a god that must be a hermaphrodite, that gave birth to itself, having no mother or father. Makes manin tis image and then hates them and if they don't worship it and love it, sends them to a firery pit. Strange alien beliefs, wouldn't you say?Aliens among us.

      March 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  20. Answerman

    January 2013 The scientific world is abuzz with news of the ratification of the existence of the subatomic particle called the Higgs boson – or more colloquially, the 'God particle.' This subatomic particle's existence – which was verified recently (with virtually near certainty) by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland – lends credence to several long-standing physical theories such as the so-called Standard Model and the Big Bang Theory.

    The nickname God particle is ironic for two reasons. First, generally, the nuclear physicists who deal with these matters – postulating the fundamental physical laws of the universe and then setting about to either verify or refute them – tend not to be regular church-goers. While there are some highly prominent scientists who balance personal, religious beliefs with professional, scientific quests, most probably go along with the thoughts of the world-famous physicist, Stephen Hawking.

    "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God."

    So, it is a bit ironic that physics' most famous quest has resulted in the discovery of the 'God particle.' Most physicists are quite comfortable having their names associated with famous – even if dead – humans like Newton, Einstein or the afore-mentioned Hawking. One will find few, if any, attributions to deities in the objects that physicists discover and name or the theories they propose.

    Second, and more importantly, the discovery that the God particle really exists does not – as the name suggests – imply that God played some role in the creation of the universe. In fact, quite the opposite.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:50 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.