At the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, February 7, President Obama announced that his faith based officer director Joshua Dubois was leaving, despite presidential “pleas” not to. Dubois is a 30 year old Pentecostal minister who has served as the Administration’s religious outreach director for all four years.
A Princeton Seminary graduate who was raised originally in the theologically conservative African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dubois is undoubtedly very accomplished, especially for someone still very young. Some critics have suggested that someone older and more experienced could have helped avert, at least partly, the Administration’s clashes with religious groups over its advocacy of same sex marriage, abortion rights, and the HHS mandate compelling religious institutions to subsidize contraceptives and abortifacients. Despite some inroads among church going voters in 2008, Obama lost overwhelmingly among evangelical and churchgoing Catholic voters in 2012. The Administration’s withdrawal of an invitation to evangelical pastor Rev. Louie Giglio to pray at the 2013 inauguration because of a sermon in the 1990′s against homosexual behavior illustrated the Administration’s difficulty with theologically traditional Christians.
Still, many Religious and Evangelical Left elites still support the Administration and often praise Dubois specifically. Yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast day-long event, one evangelical speaker, in a very powerful story, praised Dubois for facilitating a presidential meeting for a Ugandan boy sexually mutilated by a witchdoctor and flown to the U.S. for restorative surgery. Every administration rightly encourages religious groups in broad good works.
Yet Dubois and this Administration have by necessity appealed to religious groups on the left who are less strongly attached to core Christian doctrinal and ethical teachings in favor of humanitarianism broadly based on expanded state power. These religious groups are either untroubled by or even supportive of the Administration’s strong support for same sex marriage and abortion rights. Even the infringements on religious liberty have some support within the Religious Left, which nearly always prioritizes the state over civil society.
In April, Harry Knox, the head of the main LGBTQ caucus within the Episcopal Church, became chief of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). His caucus, Integrity, had largely become redundant, having successfully persuaded the Episcopal Church to abandon historic Christian teachings about marriage and sexual morality. The Episcopal General Convention in 2012 even affirmed transgender clergy.
Knox’s new responsibility, RCRC, is a coalition of religious groups that support unrestricted abortion rights. Founded in 1973 to rally religious support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe versus Wade abortion rights ruling, RCRC over the years has opposed any limits on abortion, sometimes even calling it “holy,” and defending the legality of late term, partial birth abortions, while opposing parental notification laws, and urging government funded abortions. Religious participation in RCRC even by liberal groups has withered over the years, but several agencies of declining old-line Protestant agencies still stubbornly cleave to its grisly message.
Upon Knox’s appointment to RCRC in April 2012, Dubois enthusiastically tweeted: “Warm congrats to Harry Knox on the RCRC appointment! Awesome buddy.”
Why would any Christian pastor, much less an evangelical, much less a Pentecostal, offer public kudos to an LGBTQ crusader taking the helm at an abortion rights advocacy group?
This kind of public witness has limited widespread religious support for the Administration. Yet Dubois’ “awesome” message exemplifies the trajectory of some on the Evangelical Left, who have followed the old Religious Left in jettisoning historic church teaching for their own version of political relevance, typically premised on moral relativism and unlimited Big Government. “Awesome” indeed.