Public Spirit

“We have holy-rolled our way up to the White House in our limo, but now that we’re there, what are we going to do with this extraordinary opportunity?” That’s how Morehouse College president Robert Franklin, speaking at a 2005 conference at Harvard University, described Pentecostal preachers being invited to the White House.

Now, just four years later, a Pentecostal preacher, 26-year-old Joshua DuBois, has rolled into the White House—as the director of its Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This office helps both faith-based and secular nonprofits that work to reduce poverty, support women and children, provide well-paying jobs, encourage responsible fatherhood, and foster interfaith dialogue. And President Barack Obama has announced that, in his administration, the office will also “work with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.”

What does it mean that DuBois—who embraces a faith known more for emotional exuberance and financial excess than for public engagement on domestic and foreign policy—will fill this role? As a political appointee, DuBois will speak for the government, not for the Pentecostal tradition. But his Pentecostalism is evident in his interpersonal style, as he shares testimonies of transformation and speaks freely and joyfully of his faith in Jesus Christ.

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Sojourners Magazine June 2009
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