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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Dungy undecided on faith council

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy has been invited to join a White House faith-based advisory council.

Tony Dungy

Dungy

Dungy's publicist Todd Starowitz confirmed Tuesday that President Barack Obama had invited the former coach to join the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He said Dungy had not decided whether to accept.

White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton declined comment. The Associated Press left a message for Dungy on his home answering machine.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has criticized Dungy's selection, citing his 2007 support for efforts in Indiana to ban same-sex marriage.

"We're not trying to downgrade anyone else," Dungy told a crowd of 700 while accepting a "Friend of Family" award from the conservative Indiana Family Institute in 2007. "But we're trying to promote the family -- family values the Lord's way."

The Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Tuesday that the White House council should not advocate views that undercut church-state separation. He questioned whether Dungy's position on same-sex marriage fit what he believes the commission's agenda should be.

"It is extremely important for the advisory council to uphold civil rights and civil liberties, and I am concerned that Coach Dungy is far from the best person to do that," Lynn said in a statement.

Dungy, who retired from the Colts in January, is a devoted Christian and was the first black coach to win the Super Bowl. He has been involved with many charities, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the prison ministries and local food banks.

He previously served on President George W. Bush's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Dungy and his wife, Lauren, attended Obama's inauguration in January, setting off speculation that Dungy would be invited to work with the administration in some capacity.

He said his preference would be working with troubled youngsters in America. His son, James, committed suicide in late 2005 while attending college in Florida.