President Barack Obama

Richard Wolf 5-31-2017

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While not yet final, the regulation appears intended to let employers avoid providing birth control coverage if they object for any reason — an expansion of the original effort to exempt those with religious objections. As a result, abortion rights groups warn that up to 55 million women could lose free birth control coverage — something that saves them $1.4 billion annually.

David Mislin 5-22-2017

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President Donald Trump, like his predecessors before him, has discovered the potent language of religious tolerance and interfaith unity when discussing Islam, as he demonstrated in his speech in Saudi Arabia to leaders of some 50 Muslim nations. But unlike previous presidents, he has not linked that rhetoric with recognition of the large, vibrant Muslim community in the U.S. 

the Web Editors 5-17-2017

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On May 17, Chelsea Manning, who was in a U.S. military prison for seven years on charges of whistleblowing, was released, reports ABC News. On Jan. 17, President Obama commuted the bulk of Manning’s 35-year prison sentence, enabling her to be released this year. Had President Obama not done so, Manning’s year of release would have remained 2045.

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According to CNN, the decision to nominate Gingrich has already been made, but the announcement is pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics. Earlier this year, Newt Gingrich confirmed his wife was in the running for the job. The White House declined comment on May 15.

the Web Editors 5-15-2017

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by Republican leaders of a federal court ruling that removed ballot restrictions in North Carolina, due to the restrictions being discriminatory along the basis of race, reports Bloomberg News.

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Nine Catholic organizations from around the world have announced they are divesting their savings from coal, oil, and gas companies, in a joint bid to fight climate change.

Religious orders and dioceses from the U.S. and Italy made the announcement on May 10, ahead of international negotiations due this month on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

the Web Editors 5-09-2017

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As of May 5, according to the Boston Globe, 134 lawsuits have been brought against President Trump in federal court since his inauguration. This contrasts greatly with the number of lawsuits his three most recent predecessors faced at this point in their presidency: Obama met with 26 suits, Bush met with seven, and Clinton met with 15.

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It was her desire to hear the stories of real people — “not just faceless refugees or immigrants” — that brought the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton to a refugee resettlement agency that provides a range of services to refugees in the Chicago area.

“Especially now, when there’s this fear that’s been stirred up, and anti-refugee sentiment, it’s really critical to say, ‘No, these people are our grandparents, our aunts and uncles,” said the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination.

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With his anti-Muslim rhetoric and planned travel bans, you’d think President Trump would be a favorite target for Islamic State’s propaganda. The jihadist caliphate in Syria and Iraq must be pulling out all the stops to slam him as the epitome of Islamophobia.

Well, think again. The extremist group that Trump vows to “totally obliterate” has hardly printed or broadcast a word about him since before the November election. The caliphate’s Ministry of Media acts almost as if he didn’t exist.

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The pro-Trump evangelicals suffer from a spiritual crisis, not a political one.

Moore has challenged the foundations of conservative evangelical political engagement because they desperately needed to be shaken. For 35 years, the old-guard religious right has uncritically coddled, defended, and promoted the Republican Party.

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A day after his first speech to Congress, President Trump was still basking in unexpected praise from the public and some pundits, who saw in his delivery a man who finally came across as measured in tone and downright “presidential,” as some put it, even if his few policy prescriptions reiterated the hard line, nationalist agenda that propelled him to office.

But there is one key constituency that might not be as enamored with the address: social conservatives, whose support was arguably most critical to Trump’s election.

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The Rev. Leah Daughtry stood in front of fellow black Christian leaders and told them they will need to work harder for social justice.

“If you’ve been feeding them, now clothe them,” said the Pentecostal pastor and 2016 CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee at a conference last week. “If you’ve been clothing them, now console them. If you’ve been at a march, now lead the march. If you’ve been at a rally, now organize the rally.”

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Receiving a prestigious human rights prize, an Iraqi lawmaker, who gained international attention for her oppressed Yazidi religious minority, decried the Trump administration’s “unfair” executive order on immigration.

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President Donald Trump vowed to make good on a campaign promise to repeal the law that restricts political speech from the pulpit, speaking at his first National Prayer Breakfast as president.

“I will get rid of, totally destroy, the Johnson Amendment, and allow representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear,” he said on Feb. 2 to a gathering of 3,500 faith leaders, politicians, and other dignitaries from around the world, including King Abdullah of Jordan.

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If President Obama’s appearance at the Notre Dame commencement in 2009 sparked an unprecedented uproar among American Catholics, imagine what inviting President Trump to graduation might provoke.

That concern is making Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, think twice about making a pitch for the incoming U.S. president to receive an honorary degree, an appearance that almost any school would normally covet — and one that the iconic Catholic university has been more successful than others in securing.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

Science and education professionals are increasingly alarmed about the impact Donald Trump’s cabinet picks — many of them evangelical Christians — could have on science standards in public schools.

Candidate Trump repeatedly pledged to end the existing Common Core curricula standards for math and English. Critics worry that could open the door to rethinking science standards, and lead to the teaching of creationism and Intelligent Design, pseudo-scientific notions about Earth’s origins with little or no support from scientists.

Official White House Photo via Pete Souza / RNS

President Obama met behind closed doors with the Dalai Lama on June 15 in a White House meeting carefully designed to acknowledge the Tibetan leader’s importance as a global spiritual figure while not according him a head-of-state status that might further provoke China.

The White House said the Dalai Lama expressed his condolences for the shooting attack in Orlando on June 12, and the two men talked about climate change — an issue of particular importance in the Dalai Lama’s Himalayan home.

the Web Editors 6-10-2016

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

President Barack Obama joined The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Thursday night to read off a list of his two-terms worth of accomplishments— slow-jam style. 

the Web Editors 6-03-2016

President Obama plans  on June 3 to commute the sentences of 42 federal prisoners, 20 of whom have life sentences, according to The Huffington Post.

Obama has used his commutation power much more often than past presidents — his 348 commutations so far surpass the total issued by the past seven combined.

the Web Editors 5-10-2016

The White House announced May 10 that President Obama will travel to Hiroshima, Japan, reports The New York Times.

This will be the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited the city where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb at the end of World War II.

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