All posts from “Obama's Administration”

July 21, 2011

Obama Meets with Christian Leaders over Budget

The President endorses message of reducing deficit while protecting the poor.

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At a White House meeting with Christian leaders, President Obama endorsed the goal of reducing the federal deficit without harming those most in need. The leaders represented the Circle of Protection, a diverse, non-partisan coalition that represents evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, and other Christian groups.

"The President embraced the principle that as we work on deficit reduction the poor should be protected," said National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) vice president Galen Carey, who attended the meeting.

The meeting with Obama came after several meetings between the Circle and high level White House staff. Those meetings included discussions of specific policies, but the Circle wanted to meet with the President because they wanted him to better articulate the need to protect programs for those in poverty.

The 40 minute meeting Wednesday afternoon included only a dozen of the members of the Circle. Evangelicals in attendance included the NAE's Carey, Salvation Army national commander William Roberts, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Samuel Rodriguez, and Sojourners president Jim Wallis (see full list at the end of this post).

For Rodriguez, the timing of the meeting was "divinely ordained." The meeting was announced on Monday. On Tuesday, the so-called "Gang of Six" in the Senate announced that there had been a breakthrough in bipartisan negotiations over the debt limit and the deficit. Their proposal would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next ten years. The plan includes both spending cuts and increases in tax revenue. The President met with the Circle on Wednesday. After a discussion and a prayer, Obama left the meeting to attend meetings with congressional leaders on the budget. According to Rodriguez, the Circle expects to hold a public event with the President in the future.

Continue reading Obama Meets with Christian Leaders over Budget...

March 2, 2010

White House Faith-Based Council Adopts Recommendations

After a year's work, a White House advisory council on faith-based programs adopted dozens of recommendations on February 26 on everything from church-state separation to fighting poverty and promoting fatherhood.

The 25-member advisory council also called for reforms to the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to help protect "religious liberty rights."

"The recommendations call ... for greater clarity in the church-state guidance given to social service providers so that tax funds are used appropriately and providers are not confused or sued," the panel's report said.

"The recommendations also insist that beneficiaries must be notified of their religious liberty rights, including their rights to alternative providers."

The advisory panel, which will submit its final report on March 9, also urged the Obama administration to ensure that "decisions about government grants are made on the merits of proposals, not on political or religious considerations."

Among the panel's 64 recommendations, advisers voiced support for:

Continue reading White House Faith-Based Council Adopts Recommendations...

October 6, 2009

Religious Commitment as a Sign of Mild Dementia?

The New York Times writes about science and faith in a profile of the new National Institutes of Health head Francis Collins, author of The Language of God: 'A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

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Collins resigned in August from from the BioLogos Foundation, the foundation he started as a way to reconcile faith and science. At the time, he noted concerns people had about his outspoken faith. Here's The Times' take:

First, there is the God issue. Dr. Collins believes in him. Passionately. And he preaches about his belief in churches and a best-selling book. For some presidential appointees, that might not be a problem, but many scientists view such outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia.

And the Wall Street Journal strikes back:

It seems unlikely that scientists think religious commitment is literally a symptom of dementia. What the Times is really saying is that "many scientists"--how many is not specified--are prejudiced against religious people. It's one of the few prejudices the Times would discuss so glibly.

Continue reading Religious Commitment as a Sign of Mild Dementia?...

June 5, 2009

Obama Speech Draws Strong Reactions

Analysts and leading evangelicals are reacting pretty strongly to specific concerns about President Obama's "speech to the Muslim world" in Cairo on Thursday, including his definition of democracy, persecution by Muslims, support of Israel, and use of religion to support his goals.

National Review Online asked religious freedom activist Nina Shea, "Is there an 'Arab world' approach to religious freedom?"

She responded:

None of the Arab countries is ranked as "free" in the Center for Religious Freedom survey, though the degree of repression varies. Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are the worst, while Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Oman are relatively better. All restrict minorities in varying degrees, and virtually all officially sponsor anti-Semitism. And all are intolerant of and punish apostates, heretics, blasphemers, and those who "insult" Islam. This has resulted in repressing converts from and critics of Islam as well as writers, scholars, artists, journalists, democracy activists, reformers, women's rights proponents, and others who exercise the right to free speech. This has contributed to the political, intellectual, and economic stagnation of this part of the world, as observed in the U.N.'s Arab Development Report.

Freedom House issued a statement applauding Obama's commitment to democracy. However, American Values President Gary Bauer, writing for Human Events, thought that Obama's stance for universal values was too broad:

Somewhere lost in all of the hype over Obama's outreach to the world is a sense that he stands most proudly as the American President. It's time for the president's soaring rhetoric to be applied in support of this great nation and its Judeo-Christian heritage.

Bauer also criticized Obama for neglecting to mention persecution by Muslims. Prior to the speech, Bauer had hoped that Obama would address the persecution of Christians in many Muslim countries. Bauer noted Obama singled out Saudi Arabia as a good example of "interfaith dialogue" even though last March the State Department placed the country on its list of severe violators of religious freedom. Bauer was disappointed that Obama worked harder to "ingratiate himself to Muslim leaders" than to criticize their faults:

[T]he president could have said so much more. The suppression of basic human rights is a fact of life throughout much of the Islamic world, and Muslim nations make up a large percentage of the State Department's list of the world's most severe violators of religious freedom. That list includes Saudi Arabia, and its dictator, King Abdullah, whose "counsel" Obama sought earlier this week in a trip to Riyadh.

Some in mainline Protestant circles found much to like in the Obama speech.

Continue reading Obama Speech Draws Strong Reactions ...

March 20, 2009

Special Olympics and Obama's Teachable Moment

Late last night, I was reading the news wires when the news of President Obama's comments on The Tonight Show about bowling and Special Olympics caught my eye.

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It's too bad that the president's bowling game isn't better than he claimed, but it's amazingly inappropriate for him to compare himself to Special Olympics bowling. Actually, Special Olympians are pretty good bowlers.

I know that for a fact.

My son, Mathias Dudley Morgan, soon to turn 11, will start his annual SO bowling program any day now. Mathias is a person with Down Syndrome. He bowls, swims laps, runs, ice stakes, square dances, plays softball, basketball, shoots pool. He has never met a ball he didn't like. Ask his teachers and therapy team at Bower Elementary School in Warrenville, Illinois. Ask his two sisters, or his mom.

Mathias and the WDSRA Wildcats (his basketball team) recently completed their season -- it was their best ever. Mathias scored his first points in competition three of the four last games of the season. (Photo: Mathias, far left, and team-mate receive their tournament medals from Coach Bob.)

This morning, Tim Shriver, head of the national Special Olympics program, spoke on Good Morning America and said that President Obama personally had called him from Air Force One to apologize for what the president had said.

Shriver was very good about accepting this apology, but did note the emotional pain that the president had caused. (Which is true.) Then, Shriver took it to a new level. He said the president had provided Americans with "a teachable moment."

But my big question is this:

Continue reading Special Olympics and Obama's Teachable Moment...

February 20, 2009

What Would Jesus Spend?

Anti-stimulus ad focuses on the scale of new government spending.

First we had "What would Jesus drive?" Then we had "How would Jesus vote?" Now, apparently, we have "What would Jesus spend?" The answer, according to a conservative anti-stimulus video ad making the rounds, might be, "Not as much as Barack Obama."

The 60-second spot, funded by the American Issues Project, states:

"Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born - and kept spending through today. A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did."

November 21, 2008

Report: Hillary Clinton to Accept Secretary of State Position

Hillary Clinton will accept the secretary of state position and give up her senate seat, the New York Times reports.

Obama and Clinton agree on broader foreign policy, but they disagreed sharply during the campaign over how to deal with Iran and Pakistan. However, friends told the Times that she was disenchanted with the Senate, where she remaines low in the ranks of seniority.

Peter Baker writes that the transition team heavily vetted Bill Clinton:

The decision followed days of intense vetting and negotiations intended to clear any potential obstacles to her taking the job due to her husband’s global business and philanthropic activities. Lawyers for Mr. Obama and former President Bill Clinton combed through his finances and drew up a set of guidelines for his future activities intended to avoid any appearances of conflict of interest should she take the job.

People close to the vetting said Mr. Clinton turned over the names of 208,000 donors to his foundation and library and agreed to all of the conditions requested by Mr. Obama’s transition team, including restrictions on his future paid speeches and role at his international foundation.