President Obama

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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 01-17-2017

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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 01-13-2017

Image via U.S. Embassy, Jakarta/Flickr

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 01-13-2017

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.

Image via RNS/The Catholic University of America/Dana Rene Bowler

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 01-10-2017

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 01-09-2017

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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.

Image via RNS/Adelle Banks

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.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Blake

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.

the Web Editors 11-14-2016

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On Nov. 14, in a press conference at the White House, President Obama spoke about the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump may get rid of his executive action "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA)DACA enables undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday, before June 15, 2007, to remain in the country without fear of deportation and receive a two-year work permit that can be renewed.

the Web Editors 11-03-2016

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President Obama’s words contradict those of Vicki Granado, the spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“We are not aware that any consideration is being given to a reroute,” she said, following the publication of President Obama’s interview, “and we remain confident we will receive our easement in a timely fashion.”

Image via RNS/The Star-Ledger/John O'Boyle

The Internal Revenue Service has reclassified one of the most famous Christian organizations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

At the request of the Graham organization, the IRS changed its tax status from a nonprofit to an “association of churches,” The NonProfit Times reported on Sept. 26. The change was made last November.

The change means the 66-year-old Christian organization no longer has to file what the IRS calls Form 990, a public statement of its financial information, including salaries for top officials. It will continue to publish an annual financial report, available to the public on its website.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican as he celebrated her “daring and courage,” and described her as a role model for all in his year of mercy.

At least 120,000 people crowded a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square for the canonization of the acclaimed nun who may have worked in the slums of Kolkata but was a force to be reckoned with by political and religious leaders around the world.

JP Keenan 07-28-2016

Two delegates watch on as President Obama’s introduction video plays above in the Wells Fargo Arena.

The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday, and Hillary Clinton made history by officially being named the Democratic nominee for president. Sojourners Web and Multimedia Associate JP Keenan takes us behind the scenes and through the crowds as delegates across the country witness history.

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