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Melissa Rogers is an American church-state lawyer and non-resident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. She previously served as special assistant to President Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Early life and education
Rogers served as the director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brooking Institution. She served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. From 2000-2003, she directed the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a grant project of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In 2008 Rogers co-authored a casebook, Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court, published by Baylor University Press.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Rogers to serve as the chair of his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a panel of faith and civic leaders from different religious and political backgrounds. In 2010, President Obama issued an executive order instructing federal agencies to implement a number of the panel's recommendations. That year Rogers led a group of religious and civil rights leaders in drafting Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law, which indicates their points of agreement with the law of church and state as it applies to religious expression in the public square. The First Freedom Center gave Rogers its First Freedom Award.
In 2011 she was named to a subgroup of the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. Before her appointment, Rogers had been critical of the Obama administration’s handling of some church-state issues in an interview with the Huffington Post with respect to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. She stated that the administration erred in only exempting houses of worship from the ACA’s requirement that employers include contraception coverage in their health insurance policies. Her ideas later became the basis for the administration’s accommodation of the interests of a wider set of religious entities.
In 2014, the Baptist Joint Committee gave Rogers its J.M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award. In 2015, Rogers continued to lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
After a Sikh man in California was attacked and severely injured, Rogers represented the Obama administration at his house of worship in Rockville, Maryland, where she spoke out against hate crimes. She also spoke at a commemorative service one year after the Charleston Church Shootings.
- Ronald B. Flowers, Melissa Rogers and Steve Green, Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court . Baylor University Press, 2008
- Joshua DuBois, "Religious Leaders Hail Obama’s New Ambassador". The Daily Beast
- "White House panel report says system, not personal decisions, drive poverty". Baptist News Global, Bob Allen | October 28, 2016
- "At religious liberty celebration, White House official stresses commonalities". Adventist News, May 06, 2014 | Washington, D.C. | Ansel Oliver
- "Melissa Rogers named new White House faith-based adviser". ecumenicalnews.com.
- "Melissa Rogers New Head of White House Faith-based Office". Washington Post 2013 03 13
- "U.S. government's faith-based initiative moves ahead while dodging controversy". Deseret News, By Matthew Brown. May 16, 2013
- "Baylor Alumni Association". bayloralumniassociation.com.
- "White House appoints Melissa Rogers to lead faith-based office - Christian Examiner Newspapers". christianexaminer.com.
- "Obama relies on a 'spiritual cabinet' for prayer, inspiration". Leslie Miller, USA TODAY, Mar 10, 2010
- "White House Names New Faith-Based Office Director". Christian Post.
- Rev. Joel Hunter (13 March 2013). "Pastor and rabbi agree: Melissa Rogers is good choice for White House faith office". Washington Post.
- "White House official speaks at 2014 RLC Luncheon". Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
- E.J. Dionne Jr. (29 January 2012). "Obama's breach of faith over contraceptive ruling". Washington Post.
- "Melissa Rogers Appointed To Lead White House Office Of Faith-Based And Neighborhood Partnerships". The Huffington Post.
- "White House looks to curb anti-Muslim sentiment". Washington Examiner, Dec 14, 2015
- "‘ISIS. Terrorist. Let’s get him’: Sikh man’s attacker found guilty of hate crime". Washington Post, By Derek Hawkins October 27, 2016.
- "2,000 Gather for Charleston Church Shooting's 1st Anniversary; Pastor's Wife Recounts His Last Moments". Christian post, Anugrah Kumar, June 18, 2016
- Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, A New Era of Partnerships,
- Melissa Rogers,  Uniting to End Anti-Semitism,, White House blog
- White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships