Barack Obama

Jim Wallis 1-24-2017
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has only been out of office for a few weeks, but his legacy is secure in ways that are critical to our national identity—and quite separate from his policy successes and failures.

One lens through which we can understand Obama’s relevance and lasting historical legacy is found, surprisingly, in the book of Genesis. Genesis 1:26-27 gives us the first biblical description of human origin: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, to be like us. ... Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.’”

This text is foundational to how we understand God’s purpose for the world and for human beings. Perhaps most important, it establishes the foundational value of every human as being made in the image of God ( imago dei).

This biblical revelation—and America’s racial history—is why the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 is of such lasting importance. The United States was founded on the original sin of white supremacy, which declared that some people were less human than others; the nation was built on the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans and the displacement and eradication of Native Americans. In the process, the founders of our nation cast aside the notion of imago dei. The Constitution enshrined the notion that African slaves could be considered three-fifths of a person for the purposes of congressional representation (and Native Americans counted not at all).

Choosing an African-American man for the highest office in our nation—making him the most powerful person in the world for eight years—was and is a fundamental blow to white supremacy. The Obama presidency marked a historic era in the longstanding and ongoing movement to undo white supremacy and privilege.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

“God raised up, I believe, Donald Trump,” said former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann after he won the GOP nomination. “God showed up,” the Rev. Franklin Graham said to cheers at a post-election rally. “God came to me, in a dream last night, and said that Trump is his chosen candidate,” said the televangelist Creflo Dollar.

For those who share this view, Trump’s victory was nothing short of miraculous, especially given that he beat out 16 other in the Republican primaries — some of them evangelical Christians with long political resumes.

Layton E. Williams 1-13-2017

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 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.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Brittany Greeson

The American Civil Liberties Union collected more than $11 million and 150,000 new members. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Twitter account gained 9,000 followers. And the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and other bigotries, saw donations increase fiftyfold.

In the days since Donald Trump won the presidency, these spikes, in support for groups that defend religious and other minorities, speak to a fear that the president-elect will trample on their rights — or at least empower those who would.

the Web Editors 11-16-2016

Image via mdgn/Shutterstock.com

The dismantling of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by the Supreme Court and conservative state elected officials may be a major reason behind Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. presidential election win, reports ThinkProgress. This was the nation’s first presidential election since the Voting Rights Act's implementation 50 years ago in which the act didn’t provide full protection to voters of color.

David Gushee 11-07-2016

Image via RNS/Reuters/Kevin Kolczynski

People need to believe in something, or someone, or Someone.

This human need to believe is a very powerful force. It can overcome a great deal of countervailing evidence. One place this is obvious is in politics.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

For some, the choice is not clear. Clinton-Kaine may be the more personally religious ticket, but Trump-Pence is more cozy with the religious right, aka the evil empire among atheists. Then there’s Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has no chance of victory, but is the only candidate who reached out to nonbelievers and asked for their vote.

So what’s an atheist to do?

Da'Shawn Mosley 10-03-2016

Da'Shawn Mosley/Sojourners

So there was a gloom and reverence with which I walked through the first three levels of the museum, and with which many of the people around me also seemed to travel. We were in the presence of ruins from days when black bodies were treated like cattle and felled like sugar cane crops. We were staring at the adornments of Ku Klux Klan members, at shards of glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church, and we were doing so only days after yet another police shooting of yet another unarmed black man. Death was in the air, and we were the bereaved.

the Web Editors 7-14-2016

Obama with Mick McHale, President of the National Association of Police Organizations. Image via Pete Souza / White House

Thirty-three people filed into a White House conference room on July 13 for a meeting with President Obama on race and policing, and at times, it got tense,The Washington Post reports.

Based on the seating arrangements, that’s probably not a surprise — activists sat between police chiefs and mayors, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police sat between the NAACP president and a Harvard professor. But eventually, it paid off.

Ryan Hammill 7-12-2016

President Obama delivered a lengthy address in Dallas in honor of the five police officers who died in the shooting that occurred in the city last week.

He was joined onstage at the memorial service by President George W. Bush, a resident of Dallas.

“Today the nation grieves,” Bush said, in his relatively short and mostly apolitical speech. “But those of us who love Dallas and call it home have had five deaths in the family.”

Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/RNS

President Obama strove to convey a message of solace and unity in the wake of an extraordinary week that rubbed raw issues of police safety and racial bias in policing, saying he believes Americans will come together to find common ground.

“As painful as the week has been, I fully believe that America is not as divided as people have suggested,” he said. People of all races and backgrounds are outraged by the killing of police officers in Dallas — even those protesting the police, he said. And the same people are angered by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach / RNS

President Barack Obama with Elie Wiesel in 2009. Photo via REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach / RNS

Elie Wiesel’s death is inspiring an outpouring of grief and gratitude from leaders in the religious and political worlds, and ordinary people alike.

Eboo Patel 3-22-2016

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.

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.”

1-06-2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Michael Mershon, Director of Advocacy and Communications

mmershon@sojo.net

202-745-4654

January 6, 2016

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.

11-13-2015

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."

Jim Wallis 10-08-2015

Image via  / Shutterstock

There is nothing we can do to reduce the growing number of mass shootings in America, except get more people to have guns.

Unbelievably, that’s what conservative spokespersons and Republican presidential candidates are saying after the latest college massacre in Oregon which killed 10 and wounded 7 others.

Unacceptable.

 

5-26-2015
We are all poorer because of the 45 million people who live in poverty. It is possible to change this picture, but first we must change our consciousness.

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