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The Next Rick Warren Controversy?

From Dan Gilgoff:

The White House has invited recently retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy, whose outspoken Christian faith fueled his 2007 support for a gay marriage ban and has won accolades from evangelical leaders, to join its Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. News has learned. The invitation is likely to draw praise from conservative evangelical groups and criticism from liberals and gay rights activists.


The soft-spoken Dungy sparked controversy in 2007 by endorsing an Indiana ballot initiative to ban gay marriage and similar legal arrangements for gay couples. "I feel like telling people when they look at this issue of same-sex marriage . . . I'm not on anybody's side," Dungy said at a 2007 banquet sponsored by the Indiana Family Institute, a conservative Christian group associated with Focus on the Family. "I'm on the Lord's side."

At the event, Dungy said he "embraced" the Indiana Family Institute's support for the gay marriage ban. "IFI is saying what the Lord says," Dungy said, accepting the group's Friend of the Family Award. "You can take that and you can make the decision on which way you want to be."

"We're not trying to downgrade anyone else," Dungy added. "But we're trying to promote the family—family values the Lord's way."

I think it's understandable that on a 25-person counsel dealing with faith-based issues, you'd have one evangelical Christian who opposes gay marriage; as a matter of fact, if it's only 1 out of 25, then that view is probably being under-represented. What's more, this is an advisory counsel, it's not making policy. But, unlike Rick Warren's selection to deliver the invocation at the Inauguration, Dungy's reported invitation to join the counsel does have something to do with governing. It'll be interesting to see if this turns into an issue--and, if it does, how much of one. Combined with Bob Gates's recent comment that "don't ask don't tell" won't be ending any time soon, I doubt gay activists will be inclined to cut Obama too much slack.

--Jason Zengerle