Barney Zwartz, Religion Editor of the Melbourne daily newspaper, The Age, reported on December 10 that members of the Obama administration had met privately with about 100 religious leaders at the Parliament of the World's Religions. The meeting took place behind closed doors, and included Peter Kovach, State Department Head of Religious Freedom, and Mara Vanderslice, White House expert on religious affairs.
The Obama team members were primarily interested in listening to the concerns of the religious leaders. They asked the leaders three questions: What should the Obama administration do? What should it not do? What intermediate or long-term suggestions did the interfaith leaders have for the Obama administration?
According to today's front page report in The Age, the Obama people listened carefully and were extremely well received by the spiritual leaders. The Parliament sessions have repeatedly emphasized concerns about war, climate change, the status of women, and the needs of the poor. The meeting with the Obama team members was viewed as an extremely positive and hopeful sign that the American superpower may also be genuinely concerned about these urgent problems.