AND IT COMES TO THIS: After a long, acrimonious presidential campaign, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, American voters will decide whether Barack Obama earned another four years in the White House, or whether Mitt Romney gets a chance to lead the nation. (Photo: Newscom)
During a seemingly endless 2012 election season, at times we’ve felt like the “Bronco Bama” girl in this viral video. When will it end? Presumably, on Tuesday — we hope.
Until then, we’ll continue to endure the attack ads, the conflicting polls, and the toxic bickering in the social media realm. According to various surveys, this year’s electorate is one of the most polarized in years. This forum will not solve that problem, but we thought we’d invite a few UrbanFaith contributors to share their perspectives on what to expect if President Obama is re-elected, as well as what to expect if Mitt Romney should win the presidency. Check out their opinions (which, we should say, belong to them and not necessarily UrbanFaith), then take a moment to give us your response in the comments section below.
Short Memories, Shorter Patience
By William Pannell
Ah, another opportunity to play at being sagacious. If Mr. Obama is re-elected, I would expect that he will face another four years of deadlock on key issues. Since Congress seems stuck on ideology and not the good of the people, I would expect the Republican Party, now in the firm grip of Tea Party ideologues, will continue to play games all the while having no real alternatives to offer in place of the ones they oppose. And of course, Obama will be a lame duck President in the last two years anyhow, so there goes the neighborhood.
I suspect that Mr. Romney will be elected. White, working-class Americans have very short memories. They have already forgotten that it was Romney’s party that got the country in the mess it is in. And we Americans are terribly short on patience, so if the poor man couldn’t solve real problems (which by their nature are now global problems) in four years, throw him out. Mercy, I hope I’m wrong. But I also suspect that white Americans, or many of them, have never felt comfortable with a black man in the White House. They, of course, are not racists; they are merely pro-white and Romney is all that. By the way, I voted for Mr. Romney’s father when he was governor of Michigan. He probably would have made a good President.
Dr. William E. Pannell is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Professor of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary. In the past he has served as a professor of evangelism and as director of the African American Studies Program. He’s the author of numerous articles and books, including The Coming Race Wars? A Cry for Reconciliation (1993), Evangelism from the Bottom Up (1992), and My Friend, the Enemy (1968).
A Turning Point for the Poor
By Walter A. McCray
President Obama’s re-election will renew the now undercurrent spirit of genuine concern for the poor. The civic emphasis will shift from the middle-class to reveal the President’s implicit and visceral aim to center the country’s energies and resources toward those in America who need help the most. We will see a resurgence of the middle-class, not as an end in itself, but as the primary avenue toward uplifting the masses of the country’s poor. The President will challenge the rich and the middle-class to open their hearts to make room for those people who find themselves locked out, left behind, and languishing in economic and social sectors. President Obama’s re-election will lift the spirit of the poor across the country. They will greatly benefit from the good news of his return to the leadership of the country and the free world, and from the significant changes that his policies engender for the lives of millions across a wide socio-economic spectrum.
An election of Mitt Romney to the nation’s highest elected office will cause a rise in social unrest in urban areas across the country, and growing acts of terrorism aimed at the U.S. in the world. Simply, millions will release their pent-up anger and frustrations. Many disillusioned souls will act-out their sense of hopelessness, and their angst against a prejudiced and racist America who once again failed to do the moral and political right thing. African Americans will entrench and push back in their activism. A refreshing commitment of the masses to the historic struggles of African-descended people will refocus on the self-determination and empowerment of black people and communities. In reaction to the military-type solutions of Romney for resolving national conflicts on the world front, a radical Islam will thrust itself to the forefront and make as many terror-laden statements as possible. World de-stabilization will grow.
Finally, whomever the country elects as President, the current Christian theological debate will focus on the true meaning or workability of what is genuine “Evangelicalism.” The 2012 electoral politics will thrust into the forefront of the discussion those who are “Evangelicals” of African-descent. The historical and cultural context of believers and churches in the black experience — in both the U.S. and the African Diaspora — will give rise to the most potent definition of historic and genuinely contextualized Christ-centered orthodox or “Evangelical” faith, and to true expressions of its social, economic, and political way of life. Jesus the Gospelizer — the bearer of Good News for the poor — will center this authentic definition. Electoral politics in the U.S. will be the impetus for Black Evangelicalism to come of age and offer leadership in these theologically troubling times.
Rev. Dr. Walter A. McCray is a Chicago-based writer, a leader in Black evangelicalism, and president of the National Black Evangelical Association. His latest book is Pro-Black, Pro-Christ, Pro-Cross: African-descended Evangelical Identity (Black Light Fellowship, 2012). He defines Black Evangelical identity along cultural and theological lines. His statement above reflects his personal views.
Education Is the Key
By Valerie Elverton Dixon
I believe that President Obama will be re-elected. I believe that he will follow through on his plan to strengthen public education and to open doors of opportunity for more people to have access to higher education and/or job training. When I was a girl, I was taught: “Education is the key.” In my life, that has proved to be true.
Education is the key, not only to a good job, but also to self-knowledge. Education is the key to human moral evolution and to human freedom. I think that President Obama will continue to encourage schools to experiment with curriculum, different pedagogical models and teacher and parental training that will inspire students to love learning. Once students understand that the ultimate subject of their education is their own lives, their own questions, their own striving to identify and to perfect the unique gift they have to give to the world, they will have a made up mind to study. And nothing is more powerful in any field of endeavor than a made up mind.
I expect President Obama to keep his promise to rebuild America. He has said that he will use half the savings from the wars we are no longer fighting to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, including building schools. I hope that he will expand this to enter into public/ private partnerships to rebuild the waste cities, towns and villages in America. This can provide jobs and be the opportunity to exercise an ethics of aesthetics that will make communities beautiful.
If Mitt Romney is elected president, it is hard to know exactly what he will do since he is very often on all sides of all issues. However, I think we can count on him to appoint right-wing Supreme Court justices, to put public education on a glide-path to privatization, and cut taxes for the rich, leaving nothing for community revitalization.
So, I am hopeful that President Obama will win because, in my opinion, this will be the best thing for the nation and for the world.
Valerie Elverton Dixon, Ph.D. is an independent scholar and founder of JustPeaceTheory.com. She is a regular contributor to God’s Politics, The Washington Post On Faith, and Tikkun Daily. Her forthcoming book is Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love and the Public Conversation.
The Rise of Jim Crow Jr.
By Randy Woodley
Since the election of President Barack Obama, we have seen a new wave of racism rise across our nation. The kind of racism expressed over the past four years is different than the more overt, socialized Jim Crow era racism. Today, it is unpopular to be called a racist so racism has become more polite, being couched in political jargon, “dog whistles,” voter suppression and public policy aimed at the least of these in society. Meet Jim Crow Jr. The most overt hatred over the past four years has been directed at President Obama himself. Regardless of which candidate is elected, what I think we can clearly see is that there is a desire on the part of some, to “go back,” ushering in another era of racism that could become socialized and institutionalized in America. Jim Crow Jr. is knocking on America’s door.
An election favoring Mitt Romney is inextricably intertwined in this rising form of racism. I believe a Romney presidency will open wide the door to a new form of Jim Crow directed at non-White citizens of the United States. Regardless of whether or not Governor Romney were to return to a more moderate form of politics, or even disassociates himself with the radical right he aligned himself with to get this far, he is their candidate. They have used him as much as he used them. With the re-election of President Obama we do not know whether or not Jim Crow Jr. will subside but it is likely, especially if there is more democratic control in the House and Senate, that it will take the “wind out of the sails” of socialized racism. Obama is one of the most intelligent Presidents in American history. His story is truly an American story in which all Americans should take pride. If the racist rhetoric and proposed policies should subside during the President’s second term, perhaps more Americans will be able to see him in a better light. There will always be racist among us, but in the past four years they have captured many who would not normally fall in their line. If Obama is elected, perhaps more of those White Americans who have been swept away in the “flurry” will be able to claim President Obama as their President
Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley is Distinguished Associate Professor of Faith and Culture, and Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Woodley is a Keetoowah Cherokee and author of the new book Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision (Eerdmans). Randy blogs at The Huffington Post, Ethnic Space and Faith, Emergent Village Voice and Sojourners.
Our Politics Are Soulless
By Larycia A. Hawkins
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can expect the worst angels of our nature if Barack Obama reclaims the White House. And rather ruefully, I must inform you that you can expect a similar result if Mitt Romney wins. Presidential politics are a soulless affair.
Here’s what you can expect if you believe President Obama’s experiences of four years past can usher in “an economy built to last”: You should brace yourself for intensified partisan rancor as Congress doubles down on its intransigence given the loss of the presidency in a closely divided race where voter nullification may very well be the feeling people are left with if the popular vote winner in the national election loses in the electoral college. The debt ceiling debate will seem like a piece of cake compared to the looming deficit reduction debate in the next Congress. The middle class Obama purports to champion will be lost in the vitriolic mayhem of civilized debate.
You should prepare yourself for more insidious symbolic racism in the form of racialized rhetoric and images, including, but not limited to “shuck and jive” metaphors of the Commander in Chief, monkey cartoons and evolutionary caricatures of the obviously black President, an unambiguous noose lynching the hope and change President of a country where lynching signified that citizenship and hope and democracy were reserved for whites only, and the racialization of ostensibly race-neutral policies via claims that healthcare is merely reparations from the welfare president.
Here’s what you can expect if you believe Mitt Romney’s the man to “restore America” with his five-point plan: You should reread 1984 to refresh your memory as to the meaning of doublespeak, since the (presumptive) Democratic minority in Congress will strenuously and unanimously oppose all the policies of the newly minted Presidential agenda — even those policies that they agree with — in the name of representation and e pluribus unum. Never mind that a few short years ago, they castigated Republicans for denying a recently enthroned President Obama the same presidential courtesy.
You should prepare yourself for religious wars. While the first freedom of the Bill of Rights is religious freedom — the free exercise clause enabling individuals to choose religion and the establishment clause barring the state from imposition of an official religion, there will be a resurgence of religious intolerance surrounding Romney’s Mormonism. If you think that Romney’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the general election signifies that we are past all that Mormon-bashing, think again. Just as Obama has been characterized by the right as Muslim and foreign-born, expect the left to frame Romney in a similarly disdainful fashion on the basis of his faith. One need only recall recent caricatures of the Christian Right as seeking to engender an American theocracy or the prevalence of media stereotypes which wrongfully equate evangelicals with fundamentalists and which equate both evangelicals and fundamentalists with what are often depicted as solipsist and reactionary cultural practices — homeschooling and having thousands of children. Musicals, movies, and musicians that ostensibly normalize Mormons must be held in tandem with reality shows that portray Mormon men as misogynists and polygamists and Mormon women as oppressed and helpless. Religious intolerance will rear its ugly head if Mitt is the man.
Why, you may ask, is a political science professor avoiding a discussion of the issues that will emerge under an Obama or Romney regime? For one simple reason — the soulless politics of our day incentivizes hateful race baiting and religious bashing rather than substantive policymaking. Yes, bills do get passed under divided government — even landmark policies like the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. But partisan rancor persists amid a seemingly soulless brood of politicians who, on the surface, have more in common than in difference. Rancor proliferates and policymaking is a casualty of the political battle.
While I regrettably expect little of the political context to change come January 2013, I submit that knowing is half the battle. To be shrewd as snakes, we should expect more of the same old politics. To be innocent as doves, we should both demand and expect change from politicians and pundits, especially those who claim to be cross-bearers. Rather than engaging in soulless rhetoric and tasteless tactics, rather than applauding and patronizing the ideologues and elites who propagate misinformation about Mormons and make racist remarks about the first black President, we should demand enemy-loving politics that produces justice-laden policies.
If soulless politics continues, you should look in the mirror. If substantive politics fail to protect the weak and vulnerable, the rocks will cry out.
Dr. Larycia A. Hawkins is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College. She is a co-editor of the book Religion and American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives. Her research includes projects exploring black theology and its relationship to political rhetoric and black political agendas, like those of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP. Prior to academia, she worked in state government administering federal programs, including the Social Security Disability program and the Community Development Block Grant.
The Church Must Step Up
By Wil LaVeist
If President Obama is re-elected, but the split Congress (Republicans controlling the House, Democrats controlling the Senate) remains, we can count on more of the same gridlock. Republicans will focus on winning seats in the 2014 mid-term election and holding out to win the presidency in 2016. Democrats will do the same. If Mitt Romney wins, but has a split Congress, he’ll face a similar challenge for similar reasons. If either winner gets a Congress that is on their side, they will have a better chance of pushing their agendas. But wait — “the filibuster” looms. Only a drastic threat (war, economic collapse, etc.) would likely shake either party to compromise.
Either way, churches in predominantly black communities should step into the moral gap to inspire people to pursue righteousness, fairness and grace towards others in their own lives — to get their own houses in moral order. We should spark a “moral civic revival” — rallying people to shine their lights on the deepening tragic immoral disparities (health, economics, housing, education, incarceration rates) that exist in predominantly black communities across the nation. Leading by example with solutions, we should urge fellow Christians and Americans of all persuasions to see these growing disparities (rooted in the sin or racism) as a national crisis that endangers all of us. We should demand accountability from elected officials, regardless of party affiliation. Perhaps in this new climate, more public servants will emerge in the spirit of Joseph — willing to serve not their own narrow self-interests, but all of the nation’s people regardless of race, ethnicity or faith. We know the God who lives in us maintains control no matter who lives in the White House. We must act on what we know.
Wil LaVeist is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker, and author of Fired Up: 4 Steps to Overcoming a Crisis, Including Unemployment. Contact him at www.WILLAVEIST.com, and listen to The Wil LaVeist Show Wednesdays at Noon to 1 p.m. on 88.1 WHOV in Hampton, Virginia.
Okay, that’s them. Now it’s your turn. Share your predictions below.
President Barack Obama's first 100 days have been anything but uneventful.
Today marks President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed bailouts, stimulus bills, budget battles, Korean rockets, gangbanging pirates, Michelle’s arms, a dog named Bo, and most recently an international outbreak of swine flu. Given the magnitude of issues facing our nation right now, 100 days seems hardly enough time to measure a presidency.
Still, right or wrong, we view those initial 100 days as the first significant benchmark of a U.S. president’s effectiveness. And there clearly are important things that we can glean about the man from watching his progress out of the gate. That’s why we asked a variety of urban pastors and ministry leaders to share their impressions of our new president on the occasion of his 100th day. Read their critiques, and then let us know what you think.
ERIC REDMOND: At 100 days into office, a significant decision of the President has been to attempt to make life as normal as possible for Malia, Sasha, and Mrs. Obama. Scenes of the Obamas walking Bo on the White House grounds are visible indicators of his endeavor to fulfill this goal. Hopefully President Obama will continue, as often as possible, to enjoy dinner and conversation with his family, play with his girls, and hold nightly his First Lady. This will strengthen the country beyond 100 months from now, when he is no longer President, but still a husband and a father.
Rev. Eric C. Redmond is senior pastor of Reformation Alive Baptist Church and Assistant Professor of Bible and Theology at Washington Bible College, both in Maryland. He is the author of Where Are All The Brothers? Straight Answers to Men’s Questions About the Church and blogs at A Man from Issachar.
CHRISTOPHER BULLOCK: President Obama has proven to be a visionary leader with an ambitious policy agenda. One of his greatest challenges is the Middle East. The stakes are high and complex. Issues of war and rumors of nuclear war and achieving a two-state solution are preeminent. The Holy Land is the cradle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam; yet it is consumed with so much unholy activity. In Obama’s pursuit of sustainable peace in the Middle East, he must toil relentlessly against racism, poverty, and militarism in the name of justice …with the prophetic hope of studying war no more.
Dr. Christopher Alan Bullock is pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in New Castle, Delaware. He founded the Delaware Coalition for Prison Reform and Justice, which brought national attention to inadequate healthcare in Delaware prisons. He previously served as senior pastor of two historic churches, Eighth Street Baptist Church of Wilmington, Delaware (1990-98), and Progressive Baptist Church of Chicago (1998-2004).
ARLOA SUTTER: As I watched the election returns on Nov. 4, 2008, my Westside Chicago neighborhood was unusually silent. The moment the announcement was made that Barack Obama had won, the neighborhood erupted in glee. People ran into the streets and danced. It was a time of great joy. We saw an immediate transformation in the kids in our afterschool program. They now hold their heads high and speak of their dreams. They identify with Sasha and Malia. Someone who understands them is in the White House. The change in their hearts and aspirations is beyond policies and legislation. They have hope. That said, I hope President Obama changes his mind on reducing tax incentives for charitable donations. We need both private and public funds to tackle the challenges we face in impoverished communities.
Dr. Arloa Sutter is the executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago. Breakthrough supports men and women who struggle with homelessness by offering food, clothing, and shelter along with many holistic services. Breakthrough also operates a thriving program for youth and their families in East Garfield Park, one of Chicago’s most impoverished communities, providing sports and arts programs, academic assistance, and Bible studies. She blogs at arloasutter.blogspot.com.
HAROLD DEAN TRULEAR: The first 100 days of the administration of President Barack Obama further expanded our sense of him as a man of vision and reason. He projects the type of diplomatic outreach necessary for the United States to be a “chief among equals” in world leadership, and he possesses a compassion for “the least of these” that frames his reform agenda for healthcare, education and the economy. But vision alone cannot serve as the total package for any president. President Obama’s greatest challenges will be to move from vision to statecraft, the actual art of governing in a democracy of checks and balances.
While the Senate moves toward a 60-40 Democrat majority, there will still be areas where the President will have to negotiate with the legislature around issues such as how to fund healthcare reform, appropriate resources for access to higher education, and manage the many moving parts of the recovery act. Political scientist Robert Smith argued persuasively in his book We Have No Leaders that African Americans must not be satisfied with symbolic politics — they cannot view office holding in and of itself as victory. Rather, the highest dignity is afforded Black politicians when we hold them to standards of effective statecraft, what Smith calls “political deliverables” that reflect decisions made and executed for the good of the nation, and especially its most vulnerable.
President Obama has the vision, without which a people perish. History will tell if the Red Sea will part at the lifting of his staff.
Harold Dean Trulear, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Applied Theology at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C., and the president of G.L.O.B.E. Ministries in Philadelphia.
DAVID ANDERSON: It was a dark night on the open sea when the bullets ripped across the air with precision, killing three Somali pirates who held hostage an American captain. Barack Obama was indeed tested in his first six months, just like Joe Biden predicted. The retort during the campaign was whether Obama had the judgment to handle conflicts internationally. Within four days, victory for the president’s first use of military force answered the question about his judgment in his first 100 days.
In addition to judgment, the sheer volume of work has been enormous as the Obama administration accomplished more work on Day One than any president in recent history. Obama continued to state during his campaign that a president must be able to do more than one thing at a time. Has he ever. From international travel, rebuilding damaged bridges with countries that had come to see us as arrogant bullies, to a badly broken economic system, Obama has been up for the task.
No one could ever accuse the new president of being a lazy man. So far his work ethic has been strong, his wife has been graceful, and his candor with the American people has been ongoing. The president is communicating almost daily through news conferences, public appeal, and the Internet, making the American people feel informed and connected to his administration.
While some hope he fails, there are many more who are hoping — and praying — that he and our country succeeds.
Dr. David Anderson is senior pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, Columbia, Maryland, president of BridgeLeader Network, and the author of Gracism: The Art of Inclusion.
CHERYL SANDERS: President Obama’s greatest success during his first 100 days has been to demonstrate his personal and political prowess as a world leader. He has taken full responsibility for addressing the challenges of a failed U.S. economy and two morally questionable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So far he has proposed bold policies to remedy these and other pressing matters without denying the complex realities involved. My prayer is that he will have the vision, the focus, and the stamina necessary to guide our nation in the crafting and implementation of credible solutions to our current problems at home and abroad.
Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders has been senior pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C., since 1997, and is Professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity where she has taught since 1984. She has authored several books, including Ministry at the Margins: The Prophetic Mission of Women, Youth & the Poor (1997) and Saints in Exile: The Holiness-Pentecostal Experience in African American Religion and Culture (1996).
RANDY WOODLEY: “It was the worst of times.” I had great hopes for the American spirit when President Obama was elected. That election night I told my 10-year-old son, “You can be anything you want now.” In spite of Obama’s conciliatory demeanor, the worst of conservative partisanship has surfaced to disrupt America’s move forward. This powerful rip across the pages of the American Myth of Homogeneity has exposed a concert of attacks on every move forward. America’s best hope has unwittingly unleashed unholy hosts (Limbaugh, Hannity, Boehner, Cheney, and others) who launched a great spoiler campaign. Pray for America.
Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley is a Keetoowah Cherokee Indian lecturer, poet, activist, pastor, historian and Professor at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Newberg, Oregon. He is the author of Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity.
THABITI ANYABWILE: The most important thing President Barack Obama has done in his first 100 days is continue to love his wife and children. I’m among the many who find wonderfully refreshing encouragement and joy in watching the first family. The most important thing he hopefully will continue to do in his presidency is love his wife and provide his girls attentive love and a godly example of manhood. The incomprehensible irony, of course, is that his greatest policy failure is the creation of an atmosphere and agenda that prevents so many families, daughters, and sons from ever entering the world. One prays for life-affirming consistency.
Thabiti M. Anyabwile is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. He was previously an assistant pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He blogs at Pure Church and is the author of The Decline of African American Theology.
RODOLPHO CARRASCO: He’s growing on me. I didn’t vote for him. I don’t agree with many of his policies and prescriptions, whether domestic or foreign. I think he’s trying to re-engineer American society all at once, and it’s not going to turn out as he and his allies hope. But I think he’s taking his job seriously. I think he wants to do a good job and serve many people. I pray he will listen to things which, at present, he openly opposes. I pray for him and his precious family regularly.
Rodolpho Carrasco is the executive director of Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena, California. Harambee provides afterschool programs and a private, Christian school that emphasize personal responsibility and indigenous leadership development. He blogs at UrbanOnramps.com.
LEROY ARMSTRONG: Leadership is solution oriented. I highly commend President Obama for courageously confronting the manifold problems facing our nation with salient solutions. I also commend him for seeking to make our government more transparent to the American people, so that we can get a better picture of what really is happening in Washington. With his affection for President Lincoln, I pray President Obama will, in similar fashion as in 1863 during a time of national crisis, call our nation to prayer and fasting, and to quote Lincoln, “… humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
Rev. Leroy R. Armstrong Jr. is senior pastor of The House of Hope Church in the Dallas suburb of Cedar Hill, Texas. He is also president of Proclaiming the Word Ministries. He previously served as pastor of Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and St. John Missionary Baptist Church of Dallas. Early in his ministry, he also served as Executive Pastor of Christian Education at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, under the late Dr. E. K. Bailey.
NICHOLAS ROWE: President Obama’s election, received warmly and seen as iconic, was a significant event here in South Africa given this country’s past. However, the glow wore off quickly amid the fears of the global economy (and the American role in it). Americans are regarded warmly, but their government and its designs on the continent still raise suspicion. The president will get a hearing (especially given the deep unpopularity of the last administration), but South Africans are waiting to see how Obama will do on two fronts: how his leadership will affect global economic issues, and how he will deal with other suitors for African attention, especially China and India.
Dr. Nicholas Rowe is Head of Humanities and Education at St. Augustine College of South Africa. He is also involved in peace-building and reconciliation efforts in Africa as director of Reconciliation Projects for Arise Urban Ministries. Previously a professor of history at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, he now lives in Johannesburg with his wife, Sheila Wise Rowe, and two children.
SHERON PATTERSON: President Obama’s first 100 days gave America and the world the opportunity to see freshness, innovation, and confidence at work in one person. He shows us that walking in your anointing looks like. Whether he is tackling the budget, torture in Guantanamo, embryonic stem-cell research, or the struggle in Afghanistan, our president does not allow himself to be rattled or shaken by the haters.
I do have one request of our leader, however. I understand that he has assembled a group of clergy that he prays with and seeks counsel from, yet none of these clergy are women. If this is true, I say, “Please, Mr. President, don’t forget the clergy sisters; we know how to pray too!”
Dr. Sheron C. Patterson is the senior pastor of Highland Hills United Methodist Church in Dallas. An author, columnist, and health and wellness expert, her books include Put on Your Crown: The Black Woman’s Guide to Living Single. Visit her at DrSheron.com.
KEN FONG: One hundred days ago, Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office facing unprecedented crises. An economy in free-fall. A severely compromised justice system. Two impossible-to-win wars. A bloated healthcare system that leaves millions of Americans without basic coverage. An environment teetering on the brink. And as our nation’s first African American president, Obama took up these challenges under intense scrutiny, as the press and people wondered if he truly has what it takes to sit capably in one of the world’s hottest of seats.
As he demonstrated on the campaign trail, President Obama has continued to come across as cool under fire, thoughtful about complex issues, unafraid to search for the best minds and the best advice. I have been taken aback by how starved I was for a president who was clearly erudite, even-keeled, and not just articulate but inspirational as he has shown himself to be. History must wait awhile before it can legitimately issue him a report card — one hundred days is far too short a period to determine whether his solutions to our nation’s problems were the right ones. However, one of the things I believe he has clearly done well already is to begin restoring the good name of America in the rest of the world. Who knew that simple gestures like a warm handshake, a genuine smile, or refraining from speaking in disrespectful and dismissive ways could so quickly thaw our nation’s relationships with other countries, especially those that have been declared our “enemies”? At a time in our history where both problems and solutions clearly require global cooperation, it is reassuring to have a person in the Oval Office who obviously grasps this.
Rev. Dr. Ken Fong has been the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles since 1996. He has been a trustee for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Westmont College, and currently serves as the vice-chair of the Asian American Drug Abuse Program. He has taught at Fuller Seminary, Haggard School of Theology, and is an adjunct at Bakke Graduate University. He has authored two books, including Secure in God’s Embrace: Living As the Father’s Adopted Child.
NORMAN PEART: It’s clear from his first 100 days that President Obama is committed to change. Some change I’ve applauded — like aggressively continuing to address the financial downturn in America, correcting gender-based pay discrepancies, shifting military focus to Afghanistan, and bolstering health coverage to children. But some change concerns me, such as expanding embryonic stem cell research, supporting domestic and overseas abortion rights, and expanding government while increasing the national debt.
Yet I continue to pray that this determined president will allow the Lord to direct his steps. There are three clear evidences that will reveal this guidance. First, President Obama will change his status from that of absentee to regular attendee in a Bible-teaching church. As the kings of Israel were instructed to lead with God’s Law always before them in order to gain a higher wisdom, so he will need the same divine counsel.
Second, he will reject the typical protocol for those in power — this protocol was evidenced in the Obamas’ glamour makeover resulting in the media’s hype of “a return to Camelot” — and encourage change by modeling humility and restraint in a time of economic uncertainty.
Third, he will draw from his unique insights as a minority to change the top-down agenda of most world leaders’ gatherings to include the needs of the devalued of the world — whether sexually exploited young women in America’s inner-cities or orphaned children in Darfur, Africa. My prayer is that he, like the prophet Habakkuk, will echo concern for the lowly masses of the nations who are treated as insignificant pawns by the powerful.
The change that has begun will continue, but may we remember our role and responsibility in guiding its course. Let us pray for the change we need.
Dr. Norman Peart is the senior pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship in Cary, North Carolina, and the author of Separate No More: Understanding and Developing Racial Reconciliation in Your Church.
MARK DE YMAZ: As last year’s historic race for the presidency now overwhelmingly confirms, demographic shifts have brought change to America. And whether for or against his policies, one must agree that Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office represent the reality of a new era in which diverse people must learn to walk and to work together as one.
Likewise, Christ-centered leaders can no longer afford to overlook the implications for themselves personally, or for the diverse people they must lead in the future. Failure to recognize the changing landscape or to adapt in accordance with Scripture may soon render their work or, worse yet, their message irrelevant.
Dr. Mark DeYmaz is lead pastor of Mosaic Church, a multiethnic and economically diverse congregation in Little Rock, Arkansas. He blogs at www.markdeymaz.com and is the author of Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church.
Now, let us know what you think of President Obama’s first 100 days and these commentaries from our 15 leaders.