For most American Christians, re straints on the open expression of religious loyalties normally involve situations in which believers might be seen as imposing their views on others—through evangelism in the workplace or school, perhaps.
President Obama’s plan to give all Americans the option of a government-run health insurance plan got a frigid reception in June from the American Medical Association, the nation’s leading lobbying group for physicians. Offering a public plan would “restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers,” the AMA warned in a statement before Obama appeared before the group.
President Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo was just that—a speech. As commentators at home and abroad pointed out, it will take deeds to give substance to his call for “a new beginning” in relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
Most Western observers of the Christian scene have learned to take African developments very seriously. They know that Africans will make up an increasing share of most denominations. The thriving churches of Nigeria and Uganda have become familiar to Western journalists through the activity of their leaders in the current Anglican schism.
Democracy is a wonderful form of government, especially compared to the alternatives. Giving everybody a vote provides a nonviolent means of managing conflict and of holding leaders accountable to the will of the majority.
To little fanfare, Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, joined a team on the streets of San Francisco doing a head count of the homeless. It was part of a survey required of cities every two years in order to qualify for federal funding for homeless programs. The president had told McDonough he wanted to know firsthand what the city was doing about the homeless. San Francisco has been able to get 19,000 homeless off the streets during the past decade by expanding housing and support services, but it still had over 6,000 people on the street during the 2013 count. “This is the same sort of challenge we face all over the country. The numbers tell the story,” McDonough said. “I had no idea anyone gave a damn,” one homeless man told the team (SFGate.com, January 30).