Yesterday, I gave an overview of my visit with the Executive Office of the President and White House staff. I was a part of a delegation of “goodwill Baptists”, in which there were about 60 of us from around the country. For part 1 and background on the meeting, please click here.
Looking back on the meeting, there are several things that I want to share with you. First, as I have blogged about before, faith and ethics inform this White House administration. Several of the administration officials spoke of their own experience with their churches and how their Christianity guides their work. It is clear that the administration is fighting such social ills as human trafficking and economic problems such as the mortgage crisis. And, did you know that at 14 federal agencies there are faith-based offices?
At the meeting, two officials were presented with a Common English Bible translation, which was given as “a moral document”. The translation renders the words “stranger” or “alien” as “immigrant”. Paul Monteiro, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Julie Rodriguez, associate director of the Office of Public Engagement received a Bible:
Second, it was very clear that, despite some political commentators, these White House officials and Obama administration officials care deeply about their work. A number of officials opened the lines of communication by saying, “Please call my office. We’ll talk with you.” The federal employees that we met were not lazy bureaucrats. They really want people to call their office for help. During the meeting several administration officials offered phone numbers, people’s names, and information to help with foreclosure and housing woes.
Third, it appears that the Obama administration is reaching out to several key groups of people to create two way communication. The White House is rolling out a multiple city “Community Partnership Summits”. The goal of these meetings is to build relationships, communicate how to connect with the administration, share ideas, and to work together to leverage community solutions. You can find all the info on these summits here.
Fourth, it was wonderful to be among other Baptists at this White House meeting. I connected with old friends and made new ones. Also, this was billed as a “dialogue” meeting from our perspective but it was clear that the White House treated it more as a briefing. We were told that we could bring honest dialogue, but often the message of the administration, in the form of a briefing, took most of the time. If this type of meeting happens again, I would strongly recommend for more feedback from the attendees.
Thanks again to Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, and Ricky Creech, executive director/minister of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention for putting the meeting together. For a full break down of the meeting check out the article from Ethics Daily.
Look for part 3 of my blog post series where I will share about how social media played a huge role in this White House visit.