obama administration

Image via RNS/Creative Commons/DOD/C.M. Fitzpatrick

Since winning the election with strong support from conservative evangelical voters, President Trump has invited their leaders to the White House, and banned government funding for groups that support or perform abortions overseas.

But he has yet to move on one item that many of them care about.

No one has been named to direct the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which, since 2001, has linked government with a broad range of religious groups.

Image via RNS 

Now a tribal coalition, which considers many sites within Bears Ears sacred, fears the Trump administration will take the unprecedented step of stripping a national monument of its designation, and leave their ancestral lands vulnerable.

the Web Editors 2-21-2017

New policies also allow for easier immediate deportation by expanding the expedited removal process. This specific part of the policy allows U.S Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport people at a faster rate from anywhere in the country. DHS has also ordered 10,000 new immigration and customs agents, plus the revival of a program that qualifies local police officers to assist in deportation. 

Image via RNS/U.S. State Department

Conservative Christians in particular cheered [Trump's] nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and his promised “fix” for the Johnson Amendment, which restricts pastors' ability to politick in the pulpit.

But, for the second time since his inauguration, Trump has decided to retain an Obama-era initiative to protect sexual minorities.

Image via RNS/Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications

President Trump is reportedly considering naming former Baylor University President Ken Starr to head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.

The ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom monitors religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and develops programs to promote religious freedom, according to the State Department website.

Image via Ken Rowland/flickr.com

More than 800 congregations have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, about double the number since Election Day.

Leaders of the sanctuary movement say the pace of churches, and other houses of worship, declaring themselves sanctuaries has quickened, in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

the Web Editors 1-09-2017

Image via meunierd/Shutterstock.com

It wasn’t long ago that Rubio and Cruz criticized the Obama administration for the deaths of four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in a terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

“Congress and the Executive Branch need to work together to do everything possible to make sure something like this does not happen again,” said Rubio in June 2016.

James J. Zogby 11-30-2016
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

IN SEPTEMBER, President Obama signed a new 10-year agreement with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committing a total of $38 billion in military assistance.

President Obama noted that this—the most significant support package ever offered to Israel—demonstrated his unparalleled commitment to that state’s security. Shortly thereafter, Obama, speaking before the U.N., cautioned Israel that it “cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.” The two messages combined made the point that the U.S. can help to protect Israel from external foes, but if Israel wants to be protected from internal challenges, it must change its behavior vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

Just a few weeks later, Netanyahu announced that he was building new settlement units in colonies deep in the West Bank and maintaining ongoing plans to expand settlements in other sensitive areas of the occupied lands—in Arab areas of Jerusalem, in the heart of Hebron, and around Bethlehem.

These are clear provocations and together point to Israel’s intention to maintain its control over the West Bank, making impossible the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

The Obama administration reacted harshly to the Israeli move. A White House spokesperson noted that every U.S. administration since 1967 has opposed settlements in the occupied lands, the expansion of which will only further frustrate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The White House also accused Netanyahu of violating his commitment to the U.S. that he would refrain from any further settlement expansion. The State Department “strongly condemned” the Israeli plan, referring to the expansion as yet “another step toward cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation.”

Image via RNS/World Relief/Amanda Wingers

World Relief, a Christian humanitarian group, resettled twice as many refugees to the U.S. in September as it had in August, an increase that foretells a more robust resettlement pace for the nation in general.

The evangelical nonprofit — one of the nine groups entrusted by the federal government to resettle refugees — found homes for approximately 1,400 people in September. That’s about 14 percent of the total refugees it resettled in the past year.

the Web Editors 7-20-2016

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A strike by U.S. jets nearly 60civilians on July 19 after mistaking them for ISIS fighters, reports The Telegraph.

Before being killed, eight families were fleeing their village of Tokhar in order to escape fighting between ISIS and the U.S.-backed rebels known as the Syria Democratic Forces, according to the reports.

Julie Rodgers 5-16-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Russell Moore wrote an article May 13 about the Obama administration’s move to protect trans students in public schools across the country. While I disagree with Moore on many topics, I respect him as a compassionate leader and I’ve appreciated the ways he’s challenged the Southern Baptist Convention to seek justice for many who have been marginalized. This article was uncharacteristically culture war-y and fear-based, though. It contributes to the narratives that lead to the kind of bullying and discrimination that the Obama administration is seeking to end.Russell Moore wrote an article May 13 about the Obama administration’s move to protect trans students in public schools across the country. While I disagree with Moore on many topics, I respect him as a compassionate leader and I’ve appreciated the ways he’s challenged the Southern Baptist Convention to seek justice for many who have been marginalized. This article was uncharacteristically culture war-y and fear-based, though. It contributes to the narratives that lead to the kind of bullying and discrimination that the Obama administration is seeking to end.

White House officials have joined faith leaders in endorsing an end to payday lending abuses that often charge triple-digit interest rates. Valerie Jarrett, Cecilia Munoz, and Jeff Zients, all top aides to President Obama, met April 14 with religious leaders from across the country who described “heart-wrenching stories” of congregants whose lives had been ravaged by payday loans.

Image via RNS.

Concerned that faith-based groups can discriminate in hiring while receiving federal funds, a coalition of 130 organizations told President Obama the policy will tarnish his legacy of fair and equal treatment for all Americans.

The critics, including religious organizations such as the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Union for Reform Judaism, asked the president to direct Attorney General Loretta Lynch to review a “flawed” 2007 Justice Department memo that said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act provides for an override of nondiscrimination laws for government-funded religious organizations.

“RFRA was not intended to create blanket exemptions to laws that protect against discrimination,” says the letter sent to Obama Aug. 20 and announced by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

the Web Editors 11-24-2014
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will step down, officials reported Monday.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will step down, officials reported Monday. Image courtesy imagemaker/shutterstock.com

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the third Secretary of Defense to serve under President Obama, will resign under pressure from the White House, according to officials.

Former Senator Hagel is the only Republican serving on the president's national security team. Officials report Hagel struggled to be a strong voice at the Pentagon, but his removal may also be related to the recent midterm elections. According to MSNBC

“He often had trouble articulating the details of many of the operations, many of the incantations, of what goes on here at the White House and he had a difficult time expressing those thoughts,” said NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski. “It appeared he sometimes didn’t even have a grasp of them. And quite frankly, according to one senior official, the White House and the DOD leadership pretty much lost confidence in Hagel.”

Pentagon officials and members of the administration have said Hagel struggled to lead at the Pentagon and be a strong voice within the president’s inner circle. Still, he is the not the first defense secretary to lose his job following midterm losses for the president he serves. Donald Rumsfeld also was fired by former President George H.W. Bush following midterm losses to the Republican party in 2006. 

Read more here

Richard Wolf 10-06-2014

Is Abercrombie & Fitch guilty of religious discrimination? Photo via RNS.

The Supreme Court granted 11 new cases for review Oct. 2, agreeing to rule on controversial topics such as religious freedom, child abuse, immigration, housing discrimination, congressional redistricting and campaign fund-raising by judicial candidates.

While they delayed any decision on same-sex marriage, the justices filled out their docket through January and into February with civil rights cases and others likely to command attention.

Here’s a look at what the justices chose from among some 2,000 cases that accumulated through the summer:

David Cortright 8-15-2014
Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee, via Flickr.com

Iraqi refugee girl with her family at Newroz camp, Aug. 15. Rachel Unkovic/International Rescue Committee, via Flickr.com

The crisis in Iraq poses two challenges — a humanitarian effort to rescue persecuted minorities, and a security mission to suppress the extremist threat posed by the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The U.S. is right to play a leading role in aiding the Yazidis, Christians, and other threatened minorities in Iraq. The immediate threat against the Yazidis has eased, but minority groups in the region remain endangered by violent extremism. The Obama administration should work through the United Nations to turn this into a genuine international rescue effort. The greater the degree of international participation and support for the aid mission, the more beneficial and legitimate it will be for the recipients.

The U.S. is also right to call attention to the threat posed by ISIS, but we need to do more to mobilize international pressure against the group. The Islamic State is in many respects more dangerous than al Qaeda. It has conquered Mosul and other major cities, taken control of dams and oil facilities, and is steadily expanding its sphere of influence in Syria and Iraq. It has formed a terrorist army with an estimated 10,000 fighters and is now armed with tanks and advanced U.S. weapons stolen from the Iraqi army. The group poses a significant threat to the security of the region and the world.

Joey Longley 7-31-2014
Via United Methodist News Service

Rev. John L. McCullough of Church World Service arrested in front of the White House. Via United Methodist News Service

More than 100 faith leaders and immigration activists were arrested today during an act of civil disobedience outside of the White House. The activists were calling on President Barack Obama to take executive action to immediately stop deportations and to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied minors at the border.

"We have come to Washington, D.C., to tell to President Obama and Congress that kicking out suffering immigrant families and unaccompanied children is not the answer,” Bishop Minerva Carcaño, the United Methodist Bishop in Los Angeles, said. “Immediately stopping the deportations and extending due process to children escaping the violence of drug cartels, gangs and poverty is the just way to respond."

Other participants in the protest saw the struggle for immigration reform as part of a larger struggle for justice.

"As someone who has benefited from the courage and civil disobedience of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, I cannot stand idly by as I see unjust immigration laws damage our communities and our nation,” Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service, said. “It is a moral imperative that we take action now, particularly after the House Republican leadership has miserably failed to enact immigration reform that the majority of Americans roundly support."

This action comes while the Obama administration is conducting a review of deportation policies and pushing for emergency funding for the crisis of unaccompanied children arriving at the border.

Corrie Mitchell 7-05-2013
Photo courtesy cometstarmoon via Flickr

Westboro Baptist Church members protest at a Presbyterian church in Madison, Wis. Photo courtesy cometstarmoon via Flickr

WASHINGTON — In response to five “We the People” petitions, the White House condemned the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church but said it is powerless to list the Kansas church as a hate group and remove its tax-exempt status.

The White House response on Tuesday said the federal government does not maintain a list of hate groups, instead leaving that task to private organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. Both have called Westboro a hate group.

QR Blog Editor 6-20-2013

Throughout the years, authors and academic scholars have studied and revealed their opinions of whether economic equality is in fact possible in the United States. A variety of them pose the question of whether or not social struggles in the U.S. stem from economic injustices, or from the lack of our own moral responsibility. The New York Times reports:

With the blessing of the new right, Krueger argues, corporate America has abandoned its commitment to the commonweal over the past three decades. It no longer honors norms of fairness and equality. To Krueger, it is in the economic sphere that American integrity has been eroded and its ideals corrupted.

Read more here.

Marco Saavedra 8-01-2012
Marco Saavedra. Image via TheNIYA.org.

Marco Saavedra. Image via TheNIYA.org.

Editor's Note: A recent news report recounted how activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance have placed themselves intentionally in deportation proceedings in order to enter the Broward Transitional Center, an immigration detention facility in Florida. They say they encountered scores of detainees who shouldn't be there under the Obama administration's revised deportation policies. What follows is a first-person account by one of the detainees, Marco Saavedra, a former intern at Sojourners.

I am glad the stories we are finding in this detention center are getting back to you all out there. My name is Marco Saavedra and recently I put myself into deportation proceedings hoping they'd bring me to the Broward Detention Center.

Despite being a DREAMer, the border patrol office I approached looking for a missing friend didn't think twice about detaining me. Little did they know they were doing exactly what we wanted, bringing us to this detention center filled with low-priority detainees.

No one deserves to be locked up like they are inside of this facility.

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