A Seventh-day Adventist will help United States President Barack Obama's administration consider the concerns of faith communities as it makes policy decisions, the White House announced recently.
The Obama administration appointed Paul Monteiro, a lawyer and former Senate staffer, to serve as religious liaison in its Office of Public Liaison.
"The president is serious about involving the views of faith communities in [policy] discussions -- from health care to education reform to immigration to scientific research -- not just looping them in after the fact," Monteiro said.
"It's a privilege to be part of that effort to bring more people to the table," he said.
Monterio, a '07 graduate of Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., helped coordinate faith outreach across Illinois while working in the nation's capital for then Senator Obama. In early '07, Monteiro joined fellow Senate staffers in Chicago to assist with his boss' presidential bid, later helping to organize the inaugural national prayer service.
At his new post, Monteiro schedules events and meetings with representatives from various organizations and denominations, whose concerns he passes on to the appropriate office or agency.
"We call ourselves the 'front door' of the White House," he said.
Engaging nonprofits and community organizations -- both secular and faith-based -- that are interested in policy decisions is a priority of the Obama administration, said Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "President Obama recognizes that government alone cannot deliver the change that America needs," DuBois said. "Paul is committed to achieving that goal."
Part of his role is "reflecting the love and respect" Christians are called to show everyone with whom they interact, said Monteiro, who recently joined the Adventist Church after attending Bible studies with a friend. Monteiro grew up in College Park, Maryland, near a largely Adventist community where he first learned about the church's beliefs and values.
Monteiro also serves as youth liaison in the Office of Public Liaison.