Barack Obama

Faith, Fear, and Courage

 Pla2na / Shutterstock
 Pla2na / Shutterstock

WHEN IT IS prayer time, Rami Nashashibi prays. His Muslim faith is the core of his life and work, inspiring the two decades of advocacy he has done on behalf of the poor and marginalized on the South Side of Chicago.

But when prayer time arrived on an unseasonably warm day in December, Nashashibi paused. It was just days after the terrible terrorist attack in San Bernardino, where extremists calling themselves Muslims murdered 14 people and injured many more. Nashashibi was in his neighborhood park with his three kids, and he found himself suddenly struck by fear at the thought of praying in public and therefore being openly identified as Muslim at a time when so many equated that term with terrorist.

That neighborhood park happened to be Marquette Park. Fifty years earlier another man of faith stood not far from where Nashashibi was standing, and he too felt fear. That man was Martin Luther King Jr. He had come to Chicago in 1966 to raise awareness about discriminatory housing practices on the South Side. His march through Marquette Park was met with racist sneers and vigilante violence. A brick thrown his way actually hit him in the head and brought him to his knees.

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Religious Voices Respond to State of the Union

President Obama SOTU
U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final State of the Union address in Washington Jan. 12. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool.
 

In his last State of the Union address, President Obama made an impassioned case against religious bigotry and cast other key issues in moral terms.

He rejected “any politics that targets people because of race or religion.”

“This is not a matter of political correctness,” he said. “This is a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

Trump Ties Pope Francis As Second ‘Most Admired,’ Behind Obama

Donald Trump / Pope Francis
(left) Donald Trump at the CNN Republican debate Dec. 15 in Las Vegas. Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com. (right) Pope Francis celebrates Mass on June 21 in Turin, Italy. miqu77 / Shutterstock.com

Americans’ most admired man and woman in the world are — once again — President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But the shocker in the Gallup Poll’s Most Admired List released Monday may be the No. 2 spot in the survey, where Donald Trump tied Pope Francis in the year the pontiff visited this country for the first time.

Jim Wallis Denounces Federal Court Decision Against Obama Immigration Plan

Jim Wallis has denounced a recent federal court decision that prevents, for now, the implementation of President Barack Obama's immigration reform agenda.

A three judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Monday against a federal program that would have granted an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants legal status.

Wallis, who is the founder and president of the Evangelical social justice group Sojourners, said in a statement Tuesday that the panel majority "put politics over people."

5 Faith Facts about Hillary Clinton, Social Gospel Methodist to the Core

Photo via Paul Jeffrey / UM Women / Flickr / RNS
Hillary Clinton speaks at the United Methodist Women’s Assembly in 2014. Photo via Paul Jeffrey / UM Women / Flickr / RNS

As she embarks Sunday on her 2016 presidential campaign, one facet of Hillary Clinton, 67, is unchanged across her decades as a lawyer, first lady, senator, and secretary of state: She was, is, and likely always will be a social-justice-focused Methodist.

1) She was shaped by a saying popular among Methodists: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can,” says Paul Kengor in his book “ God and Hillary Clinton .”

As a girl, she was part of the guild that cleaned the altar at First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Ill. As a teen, she visited inner-city Chicago churches with the youth pastor, Don Jones, her spiritual mentor until his death in 2009. During her husband’s presidency, the first family worshipped at Washington’s Foundry United Methodist Church, and Time magazine described her membership in a bipartisan women’s prayer group organized by evangelicals.

2) Clinton’s been known to carry a Bible in her purse but, she told the 2007 CNN Faith Forum, “advertising” her faith “doesn’t come naturally to me.” Every vote Clinton made as a senator from New York, she said, was “a moral responsibility.” When asked at the forum why she thought God allows suffering, Clinton demurred on theology, then swiftly turned her answer to activism: “The existence of suffering calls us to action.”

Vetoing the Keystone XL Pipeline: Moral Leadership for the Environment

Marchers at the Foward on Climate rally, March 2013. Image courtesy Rena Schild/
Marchers at the Foward on Climate rally, March 2013. Image courtesy Rena Schild/shutterstock.com

Like Jim Wallis, I believe that budgets are moral documents. They reflect our deepest values. Like budget decisions, climate decisions are moral decisions — decisions that affect the environment reveal our moral commitments.

How does Barack Obama measure up on the ‘moral leadership for the environment’ scorecard?

President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday. He also forged a historic agreement with Chinese Presidenta Xi Jinping in November to reduce carbon emissions in the U. S. by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. He has worked with the auto industry to put historic fuel economy standards into place. When he wasn’t able to convince Congress to pass environmental legislation, he worked behind the scenes — using the Clean Air Act of 1970 to set tougher environmental standards. All of these actions give him points for moral leadership.

At the same time, some criticized Obama earlier in his presidency for not doing enough. In 2011, Al Gore published an article in Rolling Stone magazine saying Obama had “thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change.” During the first two years of his administration, many environmental activists expected more legislation to slow climate change. Cole Stangler argues that, even given legislative obstacles, Obama could have done more through federal agencies.

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