May 8, 2009

12CN: Maryland Adventist Joins White House Staff

Maryland Adventist Joins
White House Staff

Monteiro is religious and youth liaison, was Obama Senate staffer
BY TAASHI ROWE, Columbia Union Visitor; ELIZABETH LECHLEITNER, Adventist News Network, and Adventist Review staff.

capA 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.

D. Paul Monteiro, a member of the Bladensburg Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland, was recently appointed as religious liaison in the White House’s Office of Public Liaison. He also serves as youth liaison in the same office.

PaulMonteiro web2

RELIGIOUS LIAISON: Paul Monteiro, a member of the Bladensberg Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland is the youth and religious liaison for the Obama administration's Office of Public Liaison. [photo: courtesy White House Office of Media Affairs] [Photo: AR]  [

Monteiro, who joined the Adventist Church in 2006, explains that his office is responsible for engaging “community groups, [and] religious organizations in the business of government, and to make sure that the administration knows about significant priorities and special events and dates important to those groups.”

"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." 
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, in a statement. "President Obama recognizes that government alone cannot deliver the change that America needs. Paul is committed to achieving that goal."
How does he feel about working in the White House? “It is a privilege to be here, especially at this point in time,” he says. “I don’t believe in coincidences, so I take it as a blessing.”
Monteiro says he became attracted to the Adventist Church while growing up just outside Takoma Park, Maryland, where many of his friends were Adventists.
“I always admired my [Adventist] friends. There was a difference about them and the way they lived their lives,” he says. He eventually joined the church after studying the Bible with friends.
Monteiro went looking for work on Capitol Hill after earning a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland and a law degree from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. He was inspired to work for then-Senator Barack Obama after reading a speech by the future president, which affirmed the belief that religion does not have to be divisive.
“He was really thoughtful about how faith can be something that brings people together,” Monteiro recalls. He eventually moved to Chicago to work on the presidential campaign as Obama’s deputy director of religious affairs. For him, working at the White House, in a capacity where he supports and works with faith groups, is another opportunity for him to “represent Christ in everything I do.”
“Faith puts—and I welcome it—an obligation on me to treat other people with the respect that I would like to have, and to be as honest and transparent as possible,” Monteiro explained. “I meet with all kinds of groups … and each one is just as important as the rest.”