March 8th, 2013
03:22 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama emphasized the need to get immigration reform accomplished this year in a meeting with a diverse group of faith leaders at the White House on Friday.
Religious leaders that attended the meeting said the president spent more than an hour with them, and after making a few remarks at the top of the meeting he let each group discuss their priorities and problems with comprehensive immigration reform. During the discussion, these faith leaders said, Obama made it clear that he wanted to see a bill on immigration reform in the next 60 days.
“I really sensed that this is a high priority for him,” Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice group, told CNN. “We are all looking at something being introduced this month and then the bill passing in May or June. We are all hoping that kind of time frame could work.”
Since winning reelection in 2012, the Obama administration has made it clear that immigration reform is a top priority for the president’s second term – and something they want to see quick action on. According to people who attended the meeting, in attendance, the president reiterated that support and laid out a timetable for the religious leaders.
Wallis, who has spearheaded a group of evangelical leaders on immigration reform, said that Obama particularly mentioned the importance of faith leaders in the immigration debate.
February 14th, 2013
10:35 AM ET
Editor’s note: Joshua DuBois served as director of President Obama’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2008 until he stepped down last week.
By Joshua DuBois, Special to CNN
I first heard the name Barack Obama in the summer of 2004 over a half-pound burger and fries on Capitol Hill. I was putting in long hours as a legislative intern for a wily member of Congress between two years of graduate school at Princeton, where I was studying public policy. The pay was meager – enough for gas for my beat-up Chevy Blazer and a tiny Craigslist apartment with two guys and a cat. But it was good to be in Washington and have a few months to wrestle with what in the world I was going to do with the rest of my life.
But by the time my internship was ending in late July, I wasn’t any closer to figuring things out. I knew I loved Christ – I was an associate pastor at a small Pentecostal church back home – and wanted my career to be tied to my faith. I also knew I wanted to help people who were struggling; my grandmother was active in the civil rights movement, and my parents made sure that working for justice and mercy was in my bones. And finally, I knew that I had some serious student loans to pay back. The hard part was figuring out how to balance all three.
Late one day, July 27 to be exact, I walked a couple of blocks to my favorite neighborhood dive, a local spot named the Hawk 'n' Dove. There was always a happy hour special going on at the Hawk, and they showed more Red Sox games than Yankees – which, since I'm a Sox fan, was a good thing in my book.
I settled in to enjoy my burger when the place got quiet on me – and the Hawk 'n' Dove was never quiet. A man was on television, an Illinois state senator named Barack Obama. And this guy was giving quite a speech.
February 7th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Employing faith, whether calling for nationwide prayer or healing the nation by quoting scripture, is a presidential tradition as old as the office itself.
The nation’s first president, George Washington, was also the first to call for a National Day of Prayer, one of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” to “acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his famous fireside chats, promised “salvation” from the economic doldrums of the Great Depression. And President Barack Obama, in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, quoted scripture as a way to comfort those grieving.
Obama will continue this tradition on Thursday when he attends the National Prayer Breakfast, a longstanding Washington event that has hosted every president since Dwight Eisenhower.
January 21st, 2013
04:32 PM ET
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Equality. That's what today's inauguration was about. And we have Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to thank for it.
President Obama took his oath of office on two Bibles: one used by Lincoln during his 1861 inauguration, the other the “traveling Bible” of Dr. King. And during his second inaugural address, Obama read U.S. history through the words and actions of these two men.
In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln turned to Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence to argue that the United States was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In his "I Have a Dream" speech, King argued that our national commitment to equality demanded that we emancipate ourselves from segregation as well as slavery. FULL POST
January 19th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
Editor's Note: Joseph Loconte, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history at the King’s College in New York City and the author of The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt.
By Joseph Loconte, Special to CNN
When Barack Obama is publicly sworn in for the second time as president on Monday, he will use two Bibles. One belonged to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the other to Abraham Lincoln —two of the most religious figures in American political history. Both men saw clearly the moral contradictions that tore at the fabric of American democratic life. Yet both also believed deeply in the exceptional character of the United States and the spiritual significance of its democratic mission.
In a speech to the New Jersey legislature on his inaugural journey to Washington, February 21, 1861, Lincoln reflected on Trenton’s heroic role in America’s fight for independence:
“I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come.”
January 15th, 2013
06:14 PM ET
By Lisa Desjardins and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The president has picked a neighbor to deliver the closing prayer at the inauguration.
The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
León pastors Saint John’s Church, an Episcopal parish just across Lafayette Park from the White House, dubbed the “Church of the Presidents.”
"I found out last week,” he told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.
A source close to the inaugural committee confirmed León would be delivering the benediction and said a formal announcement would be coming later in the week.
The historic church León has pastored since 1995 has been connected to every president since its founding in 1815. Inside the historic building, Pew 54 is reserved for presidents whenever they come to worship. FULL POST
January 12th, 2013
10:42 AM ET
Editor’s Note: Matthew Lee Anderson is the Lead Writer at Mere Orthodoxy and the author of Earthen Vessels: Why our Bodies Matter to our Faith. He is studying for an M.Phil. at Oxford University.
By Matthew Lee Anderson, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The news that Louie Giglio is no longer going to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration sent shock waves around the conservative Christian world.
Conservative Christians are right to be concerned about what these events mean for their welcome in the public square. But as Christians we shouldn’t be surprised nor even overly upset. Given the history of our founder, such marginalization is what we can expect.
Giglio is a pastor and runs the Passion Conferences, where some 60,000 college students gather to hear teaching and participate in activist causes. Giglio has been one of the leading voices in the surge of evangelical opposition to human trafficking, which was originally why Obama picked him.
January 10th, 2013
02:58 PM ET
By Conor Finnegan, CNN
(CNN)-– What do the 16th president, a civil rights leader, and Michelle Obama's grandmother have in common? Their Bibles will be used in the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) made the announcement on Thursday that Obama will take the oath of office on the Robinson family Bible on Sunday and on the Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Bibles on Monday.
The 20th Amendment designated January 20 as Inauguration Day. But traditionally, when inauguration falls on a Sunday, the president takes the oath privately on January 20 and in a public ceremony on January 21.
"President Obama is honored to use these Bibles at the swearing-in ceremonies," said Steve Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. "On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this historic moment is a reflection of the extraordinary progress we've made as a nation."FULL STORY
January 10th, 2013
12:07 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Giglio informed inauguration officials Thursday morning of his decision to withdraw from the ceremony, an inauguration official told CNN.
"I am honored to have been invited by the president to give the benediction at the upcoming inauguration on January 21," Giglio said in a statement delivered to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee. "Though the president and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms."
January 8th, 2013
07:56 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN)– The widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and an Atlanta pastor will deliver the invocation and benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration January 21, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Tuesday.
The committee said in a statement that the president was involved in selecting Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation and the Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor of the Passion City Church, to deliver the benediction.
Obama said he and Vice President Joe Biden are honored to have the two participate in the inaugural ceremony.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.