President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sunday, February 14, reestablishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, to be headed up by Melissa Rogers of the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., based think-tank.

The office, begun under President George W. Bush, and re-shaped under successive presidents, will be targeted, according to President Biden, toward enlisting faith-based organizations “to address the COVID-19 pandemic and boost economic recovery; combat systemic racism; increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities; and strengthen pluralism.”

“This is not a nation that can, or will, simply stand by and watch the suffering around us. That is not who we are. That is not what faith calls us to be,” he said.

The executive order explains in more detail what the function of the faith-based office will be.

It is important that the Federal Government strengthen the ability of such organizations and other nonprofit providers in our communities to deliver services effectively in partnership with Federal, State, and local governments and with other private organizations, while preserving our fundamental constitutional commitments guaranteeing the equal protection of the laws and the free exercise of religion and forbidding the establishment of religion.  The Federal Government can preserve these fundamental commitments while empowering faith-based and secular organizations to assist in the delivery of vital services in our neighborhoods.

Rogers held the same position during President Barack Obama’s second term. In addition to heading up the faith-based office, Rogers will also serve on the White House Domestic Policy Council as senior director for faith and public policy.

According to her Brookings bio, Rogers, an attorney, also served as the director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School, executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

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