Follow Barack Obama prior and during his tenure as the 44th President of the United States. Read about my personal observations along with every day facts as they happen. This blog will only submit factual information about the first black President, now in his 2nd term of office.


Send E-mail to the Editor at:

Search This Blog

10 Most Important Obama Faith Moments - by U.S. News and World Report

Sunday, May 31, 2009

1. Rick Warren's Inauguration Day Invocation
1. Rick Warren's Inauguration Day Invocation
(Charlie Archambault for USN&WR)
Warren speaks at Obama's inauguration.
President-elect Obama caused an uproar among liberals and gays when he invited evangelical megapastor Rick Warren—an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights—to give the opening prayer at his inauguration. An invitation to the Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, to deliver an invocation at a separate inauguration week event was widely seen as a reaction to the flap, although the Obama team denied it. Warren’s 41/2-minute prayer avoided political controversy, included subtle nods to Judaism and Islam, and concluded with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, Christianity’s most widely recognized prayer.
2. Granting First TV Interview to Arabic Language Network
2. Granting First TV Interview to Arabic Language Network
Obama is interviewed on al-Arabiya cable network.
One of the earliest surprises from the new administration was Obama's decision to grant his first television interview as president to al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language network based in Dubai. The gesture spoke to Obama's intentions to repair U.S. relations with the Muslim world, badly damaged by President Bush's invasion of Iraq and his broader war on terrorism. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama told al-Arabiya. "The same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task." After battling false rumors on the campaign trail that he was a Muslim—both Obama's estranged father and Indonesian stepfather were Muslim—the president used the interview to acknowledge that "I have Muslim members of my family."
3. Reversing Mexico City Policy on Family Planning Providers Abroad
3. Reversing Mexico City Policy on Family Planning Providers Abroad
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
An abortion-rights activist holds a sign while an antiabortion demonstrator holds a rose during the annual March for Life event held on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
Among Obama's first executive orders was one lifting the ban on federal funds for family-planning groups abroad that endorse or offer abortions, known as the Mexico City policy. Antiabortion groups decried the move as evidence that Obama's pledge to take a new Democratic tack on abortion—one that emphasizes abortion reduction—was empty rhetoric. But White House aides said the president avoided lifting the ban on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, as President Clinton had done, as a show of respect to abortion foes. "This is a signal that the new administration is going to take a different approach and tone from the old culture wars," said a Democrat close to the administration. In a statement on Roe's anniversary, Obama reaffirmed his support for abortion rights but acknowledged those on the other side of the issue: "While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make." The next day, the president reversed the Mexico City policy.
4. Opening Rallies With Prayer
4. Opening Rallies With Prayer
(Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)
Military personnel bow their heads at the invocation before Obama delivers an address at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
George W. Bush started cabinet meetings with prayer and encouraged the formation of Bible study groups at the White House, but President Obama has gone a big step further in embracing religion by opening many of his public events with prayers that have been commissioned and vetted by administration aides. The prayers, which have kicked off at least a half dozen of the president's outside-the-beltway rallies, are written and read by local community members who've been selected by the White House. Interviews with former White House aides and official presidential archivists going back to the Carter administration turn up no evidence of similar programs. "If a similar thing had been done by President Bush's White House, I guarantee you there would have been a lot of people crying foul," says Bill Wichterman, President Bush's liaison to religious groups. The White House declined to comment about the program, other than to say that such prayers have been standard since Obama began his presidential campaign.
5. Launching White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
5. Launching White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
(Jim Lo Scalzo for USN&WR)
Joshua DuBois heads the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
President Obama not only retained George W. Bush's controversial faith-based office; he expanded its mission. In addition to helping social service groups get federal aid—the office's sole purpose under Bush—Obama has tasked it with reducing demand for abortion, promoting responsible fatherhood, and facilitating global interfaith dialogue. Rebranded the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and led by the Obama campaign's director of religious affairs, the office has seen the postponement by the administration of the most contentious issue surrounding it: whether to allow religious groups to hire only fellow believers with federal funds. Liberal groups say they'll object to such state-sponsored discrimination. Conservative religious groups say they'll back out of Obama's faith-based program if they're forced to hire from outside of their faith traditions.
6. Convening a Faith Advisory Council
6. Convening a Faith Advisory Council
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, was offered a spot on Obama's faith advisory council.
On the same day that he rolled out his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, President Obama announced the formation of an outside advisory council for the office. The council will also advise Obama on other matters, from healthcare to foreign policy, giving religion "an institutionally higher profile than under President Bush," says Richard Land, the public policy chief of the Southern Baptist Convention. "No president that I've dealt with," says Land, who has worked with administrations going back to Reagan, "has had anything like it." The 25-person council includes religious leaders from a variety of faith traditions, as well as chiefs of secular nonprofits, and counts both conservatives and liberals as members. It provoked controversy in April, when word leaked that the White House had invited former NFL Coach Tony Dungy to join. Liberals blasted Dungy's support for a gay marriage ban in Indiana, and he ultimately turned down the invitation, citing scheduling conflicts with council meetings.
7. Joe Biden's Receiving Ashes on Ash Wednesday
7. Joe Biden's Receiving Ashes on Ash Wednesday
(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Biden pauses while speaking during a Recovery Plan Implementation meeting on Ash Wednesday.
Vice President Joe Biden is only the second Catholic in American history to occupy one of the nation's top two posts. The other was President John F. Kennedy. And Biden's public appearances with an Ash Wednesday smudge on his forehead in February were a sign of how comfortable Catholic politicians have become in expressing their faith. Biden's support for abortion rights has attracted criticism from some U.S. bishops, but the White House has worked hard to cultivate Catholic leaders and groups, including the bishops. President Kennedy was apparently never photographed with an Ash Wednesday smudge, possibly to avoid stirring up anti-Catholic sentiment, which was once much stronger in the American electorate than it is today.
8. Lifting Restrictions on Federally-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research
8. Lifting Restrictions on Federally-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research
(Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
An employee of WiCell Research Institute prepares stem cells for culture.
In reversing President Bush's limits on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, Obama has the support of most Americans, according to polls. Scientists say the research may yield treatments or cures for debilitating diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But Obama's executive order on stem cells riled religious conservatives, who equate the destruction of human embryos in the course of scientific research with abortion. The National Institutes of Health's proposed guidelines on the research disappointed some embryonic stem cell research advocates by prohibiting federal funds for therapeutic cloning or for the creation of embryos expressly for research. But conservative Christian groups, who object to research on embryos left over from in vitro fertilization clinics—which are already earmarked for destruction—were also critical. Still, in lifting restrictions on the embryonic stem cell research, Obama spoke directly to religious Americans: "As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering."
9. Announcing Plans to Give Notre Dame's Commencement Address
9. Announcing Plans to Give Notre Dame's Commencement Address
(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the antiabortion-rights organization Operation Rescue protest near the White House.
Six U.S. presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have given commencement addresses at the University of Notre Dame. But President Obama's announcement in March that he'd accepted the school's invitation to speak at this year's graduation enraged conservative Catholic groups. They fault Notre Dame for lending a prestigious Catholic platform to a politician whose policies on abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research clash with church teaching. A few dozen bishops have also voiced objections to Obama's appearance at Notre Dame, scheduled for May 17. But the university's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, has refused to bow to pressure to rescind the invitation, arguing that it "should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life, including abortion and embryonic stem cell research." 
10. Speaking to Muslim World From Turkey
(Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/AFP/Getty Images)
Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 
tour the Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul.
10. Speaking to Muslim World From TurkeyPresident Obama used his first appearance as president in a majority-Muslim nation, an overnight stay in Turkey in April, to reach out to the broader Islamic world. "Let me say this as clearly as I can," he said in an address to the Turkish parliament. "The United States is not at war with Islam." Obama also got personal in the speech, citing his years spent in Indonesia as a child: "The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family or have lived in a Muslim-majority country—I know, because I am one of them." After the address, Obama toured a historic Turkish mosque and met with Istanbul's top Muslim cleric. Among the trip's biggest surprises: word from administration officials that the president still planned to give a separate "Muslim speech" from a primarily Muslim nation within the first 100 days or so of his administration. Many White House observers thought his address to the Turkish parliament fulfilled his pledge to give such a speech.


  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP