Our president embodies [America's] uncentered spiritual landscape in three ways. First, like a growing share of Americans (44 percent), President Obama changed his religion as an adult, joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in his 20s after a conversion experience brought him out of agnosticism into faith. Second, he was converted by a pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose highly politicized theology was self-consciously at odds with much of historic Christian practice and belief. Finally, since breaking with that pastor, Obama has become a believer without a denomination or a church, which makes him part of one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups — what the Barna Group calls the “unchurched Christian” bloc, consisting of Americans who accept some tenets of Christian faith without participating in any specific religious community.
Amid a fragile economic recovery, it shouldn't be hard for Congress to pass things like extensions of the payroll-tax holiday and unemployment benefits. But it is, not because these measures are themselves controversial--they aren't, or at least not very--but because the Congress is mostly broken, rendered dysfunctional by the perverse incentives of electoral politics.
My problem with the National Prayer Breakfast isn't simply a secularist one, i.e.
government officials should avoid any event with a smack of
sectarianism. What I object to is the political exploitation of the
importance of prayer in American life.
Books on Barack Obama are proliferating. Recent additions include biographies, political analyses, a look into Obama's African family tree, books on his handling of specific issues and books on race and politics in American society. Among these, James Kloppenberg's intellectual contextualization stands out.
The debt-ceiling fight has been the dominant story out of
Washington for weeks, and for the most part the White House hasn't looked too
good. But in the last few days, the administration has taken some serious steps
forward on other fronts.
It always feels a bit odd to me to pray for justice in the world--better to work for
justice and to pray for the courage and wherewithal to keep at it. Of
course, I know that my power to effect change is relatively small, and I
believe that God's is infinite. So I pray for justice, even though mere
words seem too easy even as I'm saying them.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll,
54 percent of New York State voters agree "that because of American
freedom of religion, Muslims have the right to build the mosque near
Ground Zero." That strikes me as a shockingly small majority—almost
half don’t feel that “religious freedom” by definition applies to all
religions, even when the question’s put that way?—but hey, glad to hear of majority support for basic American principles, right?