Writing for The New Republic, John McWhorter explores the potential benefits of Obama’s stance on gay marriage for the African-American community, where “65 percent … reported thinking of homosexuality as wrong.” McWhorter argues that “Obama is now serving as a useful cultural model.” His new position comes with the burden of trying to correct a view that is “backwards” in the African American community; “throughout its history, black America has pleaded and fought … to overcome the primal tendencies of bigotry” only to “harbor a simple revulsion at the notion of homosexuality.”
The Dalai Lama, Arianna Huffington Interview: His Holiness Discusses Compassion, Science, Religion and Sleepposted on May 16, 2012
Sitting down with Arianna Huffington, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expounds upon the role of science in religion. With “up to date scientific research,” we can find “more awareness” and bring “more awareness to public” even without “touching religion.” Because “education is universal,” the Dalai Lama endorses the idea of using education to “makes awareness [of] these good things, the values, inner values.”
Writing for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher interviewed Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska. Catholic and “crunchy,” Fortenberry recognizes the current tax system as one that is “weighted toward the ultra-wealthy and ultra-wealthy corporations” at the expense of “hardworking Americans.” He criticizes the five largest banks by calling them “anti-free market” and causing a “regulatory capture of an entire industry.” Challenging the Republican status quo, Fortenberry advocates a return to “main street” conservatism.
At Salon, Greta Christina highlights the power atheism has in American life, especially in the ability to fundraise for causes and non-profits, bringing in large donations. She also points out that more than 20,0000 atheists participated in the “recent Reason Rally in Washington, DC … in the rain.” Christina outlines a few potent atheist movements and fundraisers, but notes sometimes it is “distressingly difficult to give” atheist money away, as organizations reject what they consider to be controversial donations. “Atheists are your friend. Or they can be. And they can be a very powerful friend indeed.”
The United Methodist Church has changed recently; it is “no longer a predominantly liberal U.S. denomination.” By looking at the church through the lens of its debate and “disapproval of homosexual practice,” Mark Tooley, writing for The American Spectator, points out how “United Methodism is fully global in membership,” unlike many other U.S. denominations. He states that it is the globalization that will drive liberalism out of Methodism. With most of the global membership living in Africa, Tooley remarks “in 2016, the Africans will likely have about 40 percent of delegates, making any inroads for sexual liberalism almost impossible.”
In an effort to connect evangelicals with Mormons, Richard Mouw has preached for “seven years and maintained regular conversations with Mormons.” At The Christian Century, and writing for Religion News Service, Peggy Fletcher Stack writes how Mouw advocates a “careful engagement with other religious perspectives” and recognizes how evangelicals “often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of members of the LDS faith.” Predictably, Mouw’s views have been met with outrage and accusations of “selling out, of not standing for the Christian truth or adequately denouncing evil.”
Directly addressing the integration of faith and politics in the oncoming presidential election, Obama has hired “a religious outreach director, an activist close to the campaign.” Michael Wear “will join the Obama campaign in Chicago as Faith Vote Director,” writes Dan Gilgoff of CNN. Until now, Wear served in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, working under Joshua Dubois, who ran Obama’s faith-based outreach in the 2008 campaign.
On May 6th and 7th, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research held a conference on “Jews and the Left.” Eitan Kensky of The Forward defined the conference as a chance “to discuss the history and repercussions of Jewish involvement in leftist political movements.” While there are “challenges of incorporating the left into larger narratives of Jewish history,” the conference harkened back to the original conference in 1964 where Leftism and Judaism were well-defined. Now leftism in the Jewish community is “more defined by advocacy for social justice,” not quite fitting the Old or New Left, but something current left-leaning Jews nonetheless embrace, according to Kensky.
Reacting to Rick Santorum’s comment that he “almost threw up” when he read “JFK’s famous church-state speech,” Christianity Today Editor-in-Chief David Neff asserts “Santorum significantly misread JFK’s speech.” The former presidential candidate failed to distinguish between privatizing faith and secularization. “Kennedy was not discussing the public square, but the presidency,” Neff writes. “He did not reject the participation of people of faith in the public debate, but the idea that ecclesiastical prelates could have back-channel influence on the President.”
In The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot juxtaposes the current debate on same-sex marriage with the debates in the 1960s and 1970s against interracial marriage, showing how the national fervor over the two issues is strikingly similar. By appealing to data on younger citizens’ views, Talbot argues that “marriage equality is a historical inevitability,” because “the divide is a matter not of life stages but of generations.” Looking to the past, Talbot sees how “one day, not long from now, it will be hard to remember what worried people so much about gay and lesbian couples committing themselves to marriage.”