Apart from Billy Graham, who is sidelined by age, the most influential evangelical Christian in the U.S. these days is probably author and pastor Rick Warren. His best sellers on the “purpose-driven church” and the “purpose-driven life” have reached millions in both evangelical and mainline circles. His casual, unbuttoned demeanor captures the modern evangelical style.
When President Barack Obama tapped megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, many liberal activists decried the choice of a high-profile evangelical figure who has opposed gay marriage and abortion rights.
If the Obamas were to look for a mainline church whose past includes a long line of White House occupants, they might choose National Presbyterian Church or one very close by, St. John’s Episcopal Church, according to a television report on Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
President-elect Barack Obama says that the historically black church moved him from a skeptic to a believer.
He has spoken appreciatively of its vibrant worship, written about how the black church experience has moved him to tears. And he has credited black congregations for their work in helping the powerless and in speaking truth to power.
The hope I am holding onto for Obama’s leadership is the depth and candor of his Philadelphia speech on race and the fact that his most fundamental racial identity seems to be his being biracial. He represents a new generation of children of interracial families who have experienced the rich gifts and real challenges of finding intimacy across the divide, who refuse to choose between the cultures of their two parents. They want the best of both, see the flaws of self-sufficiency and are willing to lose some friends along the way for the sake of something better than the old categories of who “my people” are. —Chris Rice
It’s the day after the election, and I am clicking around on one of the many interactive maps of the nation available on the Internet. I’ve found one that shows, in reds and blues, how every single county in the nation voted. You click on a state and the data for each county appear, down to the very last vote.
The election of Barack Obama offers hope that religion will play a more constructive role in the public arena rather than the largely divisive role it has played in recent years. One sign of hope is that Obama was able to narrow the Democrats’ so-called God gap.