The Salvation Army joins White House faith-based team
COMMISSIONER JOHN BUSBY and other faith based group leaders surround George W. Bush inside the Indian Treaty room in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.President George W. Bush has invited The Salvation Army to enter a partnership with government, faith-based and community organizations.
National Commander Commissioner John Busby recently joined 34 leaders from a wide variety of faith-based and civic groups at a meeting at the White House, where President Bush signed an executive order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
According to Bush, “This is a collection of some of the finest people who lead with their hearts and, in turn, have changed the communities in which they live for the better. They provide more than practical help to people in need. They touch and change hearts.”
After the meeting, Busby said, “Amid the atmosphere of a robust economy, our greatest challenge is to continue to develop relevant programs and services that address the needs of our communities. The Salvation Army helped more than 33 million people last year. This record number of Americans received food, shelter, clothing, and disaster relief assistance.”
Bush has selected John J. DiIulio Jr., to head this White House office, intended to promote integration of religious groups into the federally funded social service and community programs, especially as it relates to substance abuse, homelessness, violence, crime and poverty.
The initiative is intended to be a partnership, not a government withdrawal from program or responsibility. In response to potential conflicts regarding the separation of church and state, the executive order will not favor or endorse religion, but will seek to remove government hostility to religious-based social service providers. Funding to the Army will enable it to provide greater means of meeting human need in an efficient and compassionate manner.
Busby indicated the Army will seek partnership with the government equal to that of non-religious organizations. He also said the Army will require protection of our religious uniqueness as we respect the nature of our partnering agency. “We do not seek exemption from accountability and evaluation as the Army establishes programs and services. No funds will be used to undergird our denominational budgets.”
The Salvation Army established a unique relationship with the White House in 1981, when White House staff asked the Army to provide assistance to needy families. In the last two years, local units of the Army have helped the White House solve the problems of more than 2,300 cases.