"There are so many political issues that are tied to faith-based initiatives that have zero impact on helping the poor but are great Washington parlor games," Kuo said. "To the degree that the iniative is purely focused on the poor, it will receive no press but it will be a success."
Towey has consistently defended his former office against such charges and said this week that the Obama administration may face similar challenges ahead.
"The charge about President Bush's initiative was political, saying he was going to give money to the religious right, and eight years later you look back and the religious right got very little federal money," Towey said. "It will be interesting to see what kind of scrutiny this faith-based office faces as to whether it's a political operation or not. It will be interesting to see how Obama's faith-based initiative looks like when most of the groups getting money are Democratically-inclined.
"Presumably, some of these groups on the council will be receiving federal money and that could be dangerous. It could look to Americans like, if you want to get federal money, you have to play ball with the White House."
Wallis said he has been encouraged by what he has seen so far in meetings with White House officials to develop the goals of the office and said it is the wrong place to have political litmus tests.
"There are people in our conversations that were part of the faith-based office under Bush, in his office, and they're advising the Obama team. And a number of people who were involved in the conversations were McCain voters and Obama voters," Wallis said.