White House urges interfaith service on college campuses
March 17th, 2011
07:16 PM ET

White House urges interfaith service on college campuses

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The White House is challenging college students of all faiths to come together to focus on helping others in their community for the next year.

The initiative, called the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, urges community colleges, colleges, universities, and seminaries, to spend the next year working on an inter-faith basis to address issues and projects within their communities.

The challenge, announced on Thursday, is a joint effort of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) where colleges and university groups will submit a year-long plan on the projects they decide to focus on.

White House officials say that college students are just the people to encourage participation in interfaith service.

“We have found American colleges, community colleges, universities, seminaries and rabbinical schools, to often be at the forefront of solving our nation’s greatest challenges,” said Joshua DuBois, director of the White House’s Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The White House will send a letter to each college and university president across the country to encourage their campus groups of all faiths- evangelicals, Catholics, Muslims, Jewish, Hindus and secular groups- to submit their plans by the first of June. The groups with the best ideas will be invited to the White House to celebrate their achievements in the summer of 2012.

Before his political career began, President Obama worked in Chicago as a community organizer for a group of churches on the Southside of Chicago. He called that experience of helping those neighborhoods as crucial in his personal spiritual journey.

“As a Christian who became committed to the church while serving my community, I know that an act of service can unite people of all faiths – or even no faith – around a common purpose of helping those in need.  In doing so, we can not only better our communities, we can build bridges of understanding between ourselves and our neighbors,“ President Obama said in a video message posted on the group’s website.

He has long talked about the role community service plays in American life. At the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2009, he said “Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.  This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America.”

But the White House says now is the time for groups to practice what they preach.

Patrick Corvington, the director of the CNCS says “our goal is to not just talk a good game about interfaith service but to live it out.”  

Topics: Community Service • Faith • The News

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Marconi Darwin


    Interfaith means inclusive of all faiths. Atheists are being excluded by the very definition. This is basically pandering to the religious

    March 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Marconi Darwin; Don't be so negative towards a good thing! Don't jump on the poor me pity pot so fast anyway! Please read the topic again; 'I know that an act of service can unite people of all faiths- or even no faith- around a common purpose of helping those in need.' by BARACK OBAMA, President of The United States: What more can he say? He included everybody! However, every ATHEIST needs to know this: 'every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess'. Until then, may GOD continue to bless you.

    March 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Abhay

    If it is 48% failure, the world wepors of nations can take it that Obama stands true to his morals of charisma with which he came into Power to represent the most powerful democracy that is highly sensitively based where mind’s temporary imperfection stands to catch up with the change that was necessary for America and necessary for the world at large to reckon in human terms.One year of Obama’s role is insufficient to make an assessment because dilution of Presidential Charisma to match with public consumption is not a joke – I would therefore say 48% failure rating as projected is “transition”—and not a fact because it is related with the performance of relative time over which his (Obama’s) Charisma stands linked with the Infinite of Its unconscious state in him evolving and what is evolving as good can only indicate at present that (Obama) needs 4 years plus – to make things smooth for America and the world; reason – because he is a natural being blessed to receive inputs on his charisma to make mind’s temporary imperfections to move with his flexibility on them that are in the offing after the initial grounds appearing disturbing have been laid both for America as nation and the world tiding over the past governing history of this good earth.Well, this is a short and sweet comment on what stands reported.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:43 am |