President 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.

Since it was unveiled last week, President Trump’s proposed budget has been widely denounced as “immoral” and downright “evil” for boosting defense spending by billions while demanding drastic cuts to vital aid programs.

Yet if liberals and some conservatives are upset about cuts to programs that help ensure clean drinking water, give financial aid to low-income college students, and even help support Meals on Wheels — which delivers nearly a million meals a day to the sick and elderly — would Jesus have a problem with slashing assistance to the needy?

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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.

NEARLY 46 YEARS after his death, Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is never very far from the public eye. He’s already immortal as the originator of the world-famous Serenity Prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”). And just last fall, an article in Harper’s took up the eternal question: “Where is our Reinhold Niebuhr?” President Obama once called him his favorite philosopher, and Niebuhr is regularly “proof-texted” by polemicists across the political spectrum, especially on questions of war and peace.

In April, PBS will air a documentary, An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, directed by Martin Doblmeier. It will give an even broader public the chance to reflect on Niebuhr’s significance, in the company of such notables as Cornel West, Stanley Hauerwas, President Jimmy Carter, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

I was eager to see the film. I’ve always felt that Reinhold Niebuhr was somewhere in my family tree. As a student at a Baptist-related college in the 1970s, I got heavy doses of his book Moral Man and Immoral Society. Later, I had the opportunity to interview Myles Horton, founder of the mother church of Southern radicalism, the Highlander Center, and learned that Horton had studied with Niebuhr at Union Theological Seminary. In fact, Niebuhr helped fund Highlander. And about a dozen years after that, I gave one of our sons the middle name Myles, in honor of Horton. So how many degrees of separation is that?

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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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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.

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Lost amid the ongoing furor over President Trump’s travel ban, and the ecstasy (and agony) over his first pick for the Supreme Court, was another move on Jan. 31 that is starting to give social conservatives pause: Trump’s continuance of the executive order by President Obama’s policy that protects gay and transgender employees from discrimination while working for federal contractors.

And not only did Trump extend the protections, but he did so in powerful language that used the community’s own “LGBTQ” identifier, while vowing that Trump would be “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights.”

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Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will be a rare woman on Donald Trump’s Cabinet-level team, and one of the few persons of color.

Knowing little about her foreign policy positions, given that she has little to no international experience, what should we expect from Haley once she is confirmed to be ambassador to the United Nations?

the Web Editors 1-17-2017

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On Jan. 17 the White House announced that President Obama commuted much of Chelsea Manning’s remaining prison sentence, reports the New York Times. Ms. Manning was slated to be released from prison in the year 2045. She will now be released on May 17. As of Jan. 17, President Obama has granted more commutations than any U.S. president in history.

Chelsea Manning was given a 35-year prison sentence after she was convicted for a 2010 U.S. intelligence leak that involved WikiLeaks and exposed information concerning the nation’s global diplomacy and its military. Much attention of the media came Ms. Manning’s way due to her trial and conviction, as well as the fact that, after her sentencing, Ms. Manning announced she was transgender and began to identify as Chelsea.

Layton E. Williams 1-13-2017

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From President Obama, I have learned to be an activist, to fight for change, and to believe that change is possible even on the darkest days. I have learned to cry out against injustice and name the evils in this world for what they are, to speak bold truth about what I believe is right even when it feels dangerous.

Da'Shawn Mosley 1-13-2017

America rests on a foundation of sin. Its body is strong but its soul is dead. Yes, America provides so much freedom and benefits so many lives. But woe to us if we look at this country’s glass as half full when so many of our fellow citizens barely have water at all. Woe to us if we praise the calm in our lives while failing to give the distress of others’ lives the full attention it needs.

Any speech about America that fails to look at this nation’s current state with the realism and gravity it deserves is speech about a country that doesn’t exist. The America that President Obama spoke of, in his farewell address, is an America I barely recognize.

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In one of his last official acts, President Obama has designated Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and other civil rights landmarks in Birmingham, Ala., as the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

The designation protects the historic A.G. Gaston Motel in that city, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders had their 1963 campaign headquarters, as well as Kelly Ingram Park, where police turned hoses and dogs on civil rights protesters. And it includes the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four girls died in 1963, after the Ku Klux Klan detonated 19 sticks of dynamite outside the church basement.

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For much of its long history in the U.S., the Catholic Church was known as the champion of the working class, a community of immigrants whose leaders were steadfast in support of organized labor and economic justice – a faith-based agenda that helped provide a path to success for its largely working-class flock.

In recent decades, as those ethnic European Catholics assimilated and grew wealthier, and as the concerns of the American hierarchy shifted to battles over moral issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, traditional pocketbook issues took a back seat.

Jim Wallis 1-10-2017

President Barack Obama at a rally in Charlotte, N.C. July 5, 2016. Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States was a fundamental blow to white supremacy — a black man in the highest office of the land and most powerful position in the world. That was and will always be a great legacy of the Obama presidency — a historic moment in the longstanding and ongoing movement to undo white supremacy and privilege that challenged and threatened all the ways the original sin still lingers.

the Web Editors 1-09-2017

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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.

the Web Editors 12-22-2016

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President Obama's administration will formally end a registry program created after 9/11 to monitor visitors traveling to the U.S. from countries with active terrorist groups, reports the New York Times. This move comes weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who made known during his presidential campaign his intent to set up a national registry for Muslims and temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from the U.S.

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When President Obama signed a newly strengthened international religious freedom act on Dec. 16, the intention was to protect religious believers around the world.

But the freshly signed act is being heralded by some legal scholars as a different milestone — for the first time, atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law.

the Web Editors 12-12-2016

On Dec. 11, a bipartisan group of senators — including Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed — released a joint statement announcing their intent to investigate whether Russia swayed, or attempted to sway, the 2016 U.S. presidential election to elect Donald Trump. 

On Dec. 12, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his support for their efforts and stated that the Senate intelligence committee should lead the investigation, reports Politico.

WHILE Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be enormously proud of the strides our nation has made over the past 40 years, especially the country’s inspiring and groundbreaking election of our first black president, he would be calling on the president, the Congress, and all of us to mount a national, multiracial campaign to free the 36.5 million Americans of all races and places from the noose of poverty driven by low-wage work and to end racial disparities still prevalent in all areas of American life.

Today there are 36.5 million poor people in America, including 13 million children, although our gross domestic product is three times larger than in 1968. He would be pushing our new leaders, and all of us, to achieve long overdue health care for all, beginning with all children and pregnant women; to end the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” that will afflict 1 in 3 black and 1 in 6 Latino boys born in 2001 unless we act together with urgency to dismantle it; to expand proven parent-child support programs and establish a high-quality comprehensive early childhood development system ...

We know what to do to end poverty, child illiteracy, and hunger and to ensure every child and person health coverage and job-rich, safe communities. Finding the spiritual and political will to do what is right and economically sensible and necessary is the challenge you and I and our new leaders face.

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Nearly 200 religious and civil rights groups are petitioning President Obama to dismantle the regulatory framework behind a Homeland Security program critics say discriminates against Muslims and Arabs.

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed one of the architects of the program, Kris Kobach, to his transition team. That, and Trump’s own calls on the campaign trail for “extreme vetting” of immigrants, have led some to believe that he will revive the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System.

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