July/August 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

President Barack Obama urged faith groups to “speak out” in a “more forceful fashion” on the subject of poverty and argued that there is a “transformative power” in religion to help low-income people during a May 12 discussion at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The event was part of a three-day symposium hosted by the university’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and the National Association of Evangelicals, reported Religion News Service. About 700 people attended the symposium, which promised attendees a faith-based look at pressing social issues.

During his time as president, Obama has come under fire from First Amendment advocates due to his decision to continue the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. According to critics, this office blurs the separation of church and state by providing public funding to faith-based groups for certain projects, although certain restrictions apply.

Obama appeared on the panel alongside Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis and Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier and More Prosperous America.

“We have a commitment to the teaching of the Savior,” said Brooks, who is a conservative Catholic. He added that poor people “are not liabilities to manage; they are assets to develop. They are human capital.”