The Complete DiIulio Interview

John DiIulio: The thing people have been most surprised about with respect to this office so far is how much we welcome specific discourse, debate, and dialogue. It's democracy, small d, in action. I spent three hours in what was supposed to be a one-hour meeting with the Jewish Council on Public Affairs; we met until midnight. I enjoyed it. There are people of good will of many faiths and of all faiths and of no faith, as the president likes to say—Methodists, Muslim, Mormons, and people of no faith—who have ideas, who have perspectives, who have concerns. We're an office of the federal government and an executive office of the president. We're the office of faith-based and community initiatives. There are people in the independent sector who are not religious and represent major secular organizations. We're as concerned about and as interested in hearing from them. We've been with them as much as we've been with anyone.

Jim Wallis: So the dialogue that's happened for you can be a positive thing?

DiIulio: It is nothing but positive. The only qualification I'd make to that is under some conditions you get people who want to have the same exact discussion three and four and five times and don't appear to be mutually listening. The good news is that when you get this kind of dialogue, you get a tremendous amount of mutual listening going on.

Wallis: What have been the worst misconceptions about this office? One I can think of is that you have a huge pot of money to be doled out. People call our office and ask, "How do I apply for the money?"

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2001
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