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Obama's faith list and Torah misquote

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Well, here’s part of the list we have all been waiting for: Folks who will be on Obama’s “faith council” to advise him on public policy.

 Before we go on to that, must mention that the Chief Executive’s speechwriters need to be a bit more on the ball in terms of quoting Scripture.  At one point, the new president said, in his National Prayer Breakfast speech this morning, “The Torah commands, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” “

 That is not in the Torah, aka the Old Testament. It’s from the Talmud, specifically a quote from Rabbi Hillel in the book Talmud Shabbos. (The Talmud, a 20-volume biblical commentary, was compiled by Jewish sages in second-century AD Babylon.)

 OK…below we have 15 members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, to be part of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, once known as the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They will be advising the White House in the same way religious leaders advised President Bush during weekly Monday afternoon conference calls moderated by Bush aide Tim Goeglein.

I didn’t want to post this list until we identified the religious affiliation of some of these folks. Some are obvious. Others, like Eboo Patel, an Indian-American who is Muslim, are not. Here is an interesting interview with Mr. Patel by Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Then again, the title does include “neighborhood partnerships” so it’s possible that some of the people below are just representing a charity and are themselves not part of a particular faith. If any reader knows to the contrary, please let me know.

  A couple of folks I expected to make the list did not, inciuding emergent church leader Brian McLaren, Orthodox Rabbi Nathan Diament and Washington Episcopal Bishop John B. Chane. Also, don’t see any openly gay folks here.

  On the list are:
1.Judith N. Vredenburgh, president and CEO, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America
Philadelphia, Pa.
2.Rabbi David N. Saperstein, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and noted church/state expert
here in Washington.
3. The Rev. Frank S. Page, immediate past president, Southern Baptist Convention, Taylors, S.C.
4. The Rev. Larry J. Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA, based in Alexandria, Va.
5. The. Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio.
5. Eboo S. Patel, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Corps, Chicago, Ill.
6. Fred Davie, President, Public / Private Ventures, a secular non-profit intermediary, New York, NY. He is Presbyterian.
7. The Rev. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention, USA, Philadelphia, Pa.
8. Melissa Rogers, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs and expert on church/state issues, Winston-Salem, N.C. She is a former counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty. She also attended Baylor University. We understand she is a moderate Southern Baptist.
9. The Rev. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed, Lakeland, Fla.
10. Arturo Chavez, Ph.D., president & CEO, Mexican American Cultural Center, also known as the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas
11. The Rev. Jim Wallis, president & executive director, Sojourners in Washington, DC. Last time we talked, he said he splits his time between the Episcopal Church (his wife is an Angican priest) and Brian McLaren’s non-denominational church in Spencerville, Md.
12. Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church
Knoxville, Tenn.
13. Diane Baillargeon, President & CEO, Seedco, a secular national operating intermediary
New York, NY. Anyone know her faith affiliation?
14. Richard Stearns, president, World Vision, Bellevue, Wash. We called his office asking what denomination he’s part of and have yet to get an answer.

- Julia Duin, reigion editor

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About the Author
Julia Duin

Julia Duin

Julia Duin is the Times' religion editor. She has a master's degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...

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