Obama’s former spiritual advisor says some government policies drive families apart

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Joshua DuBois, President Obama’s first director of the White House faith-based initiative, has been busy of late, churning out thought-provoking columns for Newsweek and the Daily Beast. His recent piece, “The Fight for Black Men,” especially spawned a lot of conversation. How could it not? In it, DuBois points out the alarming fact that there are “more African-Americans in the corrections system today—in prison or on probation or parole—than there were enslaved in 1850.”

President Obama might be a divisive figure these days, but his former spiritual advisor isn’t. DuBois is easy to like, and anecdotally enjoys sky-high approval ratings amongst the Evangelical community. Some of this is, no doubt, attributable to his optimistic worldview and friendly personality. But as I found out during a recent conversation, he’s also intellectually honest, and willing to call out the government for making things worse.

We covered a lot of ground — from Obama’s faith to Mandela’s legacy — but I wanted to share this excerpt about the unfortunate role that government has played in making things worse for African-American men:

“There absolutely has been the case for far too long that government policies actually drove families apart. For example, welfare policies throughout much of the ’60s and ’70s said that if a woman had a man in the home, she would receive less support and less benefits from the state. And so, of course, that drove guys out of the home, which is insane. We need to be encouraging…folks to be mutually supportive of each other, not the other way around.


That’s the case now, with some other perverse incentives in our child support system. The Obama Administration’s trying to do something about this now, but what’s fascinating to me is a lot of child support that gets paid from the pocket of a guy who’s no longer with the mother of his child doesn’t actually go to that mother and the family. It goes to the state, supposedly to reimburse welfare costs, and so forth.


… It’s really disempowering for a man…to write a check and know that it’s not going to their family, but to the government. It’s something that the administration is trying to work on now, but I absolutely agree that so many of these policies have actually pushed families further apart, instead of bringing them together.”

Listen to streaming audio of our full conversation below, or download the podcast on iTunes.

Matt K. Lewis