On April 25, a historic summit between leaders of America’s faith communities and the leadership of the United States Congress was held on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The goal of the summit was to bring over 400 religious communities to the Capitol to meet with congressional leaders and to discuss ways in which faith-based institutions can play a greater role in addressing America’s social ills. Along with many individuals from other faith communities, the Orthodox Union played a lead role in developing and participating in this historic event.
The concept for the summit was developed by Representative J.C. Watts (R-Ok) and Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa) who co-chaired the summit. An advisory committee was developed by Bishop Harold Ray of the National Center for Faith Based Initiatives, and the Union’s public policy director, Nathan Diament, served on the committee. In that capacity, Mr. Diament addressed over 100 Republican members of the congress on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday morning, where he urged the members to support the drive to expand the role of faith-based social service providers through charitable choice legislation.
Another Union leader participating in the summit was the director of Yachad/National Council for the Jewish Disabled, Dr. Jeff Lichtman, who served as a panelist for one of the summit’s working sessions. There, Dr. Lichtman discussed the role of faith-based providers in serving the educational and training needs of the disabled.
Other participants in the summit included many members of Congress, Vice President Cheney, and John DiIullio, director of the White House Office of Faith Based & Community Initiatives and Attorney General John Ashcroft.