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.
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."
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN)–In the face of withering criticism over a sermon he apparently delivered on homosexuality in the 1990s, the Rev. Louie Giglio has withdrawn from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.
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."
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.
By Kevin Bohn, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Senior members of the White House staff called key American Jewish interest groups on Sunday to tell them about the impending nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary and to try to answer their concerns about his record, several sources familiar with the calls told CNN.
One of the call recipients, who generally supports the nomination, who requested anonymity to freely discuss his call, told CNN the outreach shows "not only there is some concern, but the White House takes the concern seriously and wants to have the very conversation at the highest levels of the White House."
Officials are hoping the outreach will help lesson the intensity of any opposition.
Among the officials who made the calls was White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, several sources familiar with the outreach told CNN, signifying the importance of the Jewish community to the White House as it proceeds with the Hagel pick. Lew is one of the more prominent Jews in the Obama administration.
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
Presidents wear a lot of hats. They serve as commanders in chief. They nominate Supreme Court justices. They veto congressional legislation. Increasingly, they are also coming to serve as our pastors in chief.
In his remarks Sunday night at an interfaith service at in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama vowed to use “whatever power” he has to prevent more mass shootings, and he all but promised to push for stricter gun control laws in the next U.S. Congress. But policy was not top of mind yesterday for either the president or a grieving nation.
Editor's Note: Eric Metaxas is the author of "No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power Of True Belief In A Time Of Crisis: The National Prayer Breakfast Speech."
By Eric Metaxas, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Imagine that the president of the United States had to sit and listen to you for 30 minutes in a public setting. Imagine that he couldn't escape and had to endure whatever you said. If you disagreed with him politically, would you try to embarrass him? What would you say?
Well, this actually happened to me. A year ago I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, an event attended by the president, first lady, vice president, and 3,500 other dignitaries. No one was more shocked at the invitation than I. Previous speakers include Mother Teresa, Tony Blair and Bono. No pressure.
By the way, I disagree with the president in some important ways. But as a Christian, God commands me to love those with whom I disagree, to treat them with civility and respect, as creatures made in God's image. That's a command, not a request or a suggestion. Again, no pressure.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – With the world facing “perilous times” and “anxiety stemming from economic challenges,” evangelical leader Franklin Graham is asking congregations to pray for President Barack Obama, even though Graham endorsed the president’s opponent in the 2012 election.
“Having just come through a divisive national election, I am urging pastors across this country to lead their congregations in praying daily for our president, Barack Obama … for wisdom, Divine guidance, and that God would accomplish His will and purposes,” Graham said in a statement. “While politics is noticeably partisan, prayer must never be partisan. Americans need to come together, and people of faith should lead the way, by praying diligently for our leaders whether or not they agree with them or their policies.”
Graham – the president and CEO of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – is the son of Billy Graham, the famed evangelist with many political ties. The elder Graham has met and prayed with every president since Harry Truman.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama’s victory relied largely on two dramatically different religious coalitions – minority Christians and those with no religion – according to a survey released Thursday.
“This presidential election is the last in which a white Christian strategy will be considered a plausible path to victory,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey. “The American religious and ethnic landscape is becoming increasingly diverse, and any campaigns relying on outdated maps are destined to lose their way.”
One-in-four Obama voters were religiously unaffiliated, the second-largest “religious” demographic in the president’s coalition, according to the study (PDF). Minority Christians – consisting of black, Asian, Hispanic and mixed-race Americans – made up 31% of Obama’s coalition, the largest religious group.
Among major religious demographics, Obama struggled most with white Christians, including Catholics, mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants. When these three groups were added up, they accounted for just 35% of Obama’s religious coalition. In comparison, Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s coalition was overwhelmingly white and Christian, with 79% of Romney voters identifying as such.
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.
“It’s demography, stupid!” is the new mantra for analyzing the 2012 election, in which African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos cast their votes in overwhelming numbers for President Obama.
But religious diversity was another key theme. How so? Let me count the ways.
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.