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Wake Forest professor appointed to President Obama's faith-based advisory board

February 6, 2009

Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religious and Public Affairs at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, has been appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  President Barack Obama named 15 of the council’s 25 members Feb. 5. 

Rogers has spent many years working on constitutional issues surrounding the separation of church and state, and has been active in discussions about religion’s role in policy and public life.  “The government should not subsidize or promote religious activities,” she says, “but it should subsidize and promote programs that feed the hungry and help people move from welfare to work, for example.”

Rogers said that the appointment “is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity to work toward the reconciliation of two core American values: serving people in need and safeguarding religious freedom for all.”  She added:  “I also am pleased that this body will work with the National Security Council to advance interfaith dialogue around the world, promote responsible fatherhood, and reduce abortions.” 

Rogers previously served as the executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C.  The forum, a project supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, serves as a clearinghouse and town hall for the discussion of the ways in which religion shapes ideas and institutions.  Rogers has also served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.  She is co-chair of the Religion Clauses issue group of the American Constitution Society on Law and Public Policy, and serves as a member of the Religion, Public Values, and Public Policy Task Force of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

In December, Rogers and E.J. Dionne, a senior Brookings fellow, issued a report calling on the new president to welcome partnerships with religious as well as secular organizations and to increase funding for programs that work, but listed many recommendations for reforming these partnerships. 

In 2008, Rogers co-authored a case book on religion and law, “Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court,” published by Baylor University Press.  She has testified before the Judiciary Committee to the U.S. Senate about religious expression in the public square.  In 2004, National Journal named Rogers as one of twelve church-state experts “politicians will call on when they get serious about addressing an important public policy issue.”

Rogers is based in Washington, D.C.

Press Contacts:

Audrey Fannin
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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