Christian Leaders Meet with Obama on Election Eve

On the day before the midterm elections (November 1, 2010), President Barack Obama hosted a White House meeting with about 20 US Christian leaders affiliated with the National Council of Churches (NCC) and its global humanitarian agency, Church World Service. According to the leaders, the meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes, was not political, but rather a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the modern ecumenical movement. Still, participants acknowledged that politics did come up as the group discussed the current divisive political climate, the economy, poverty and hunger, and the continuing crisis in the Middle East. The White House did not announce the meeting and had no statement other than to confirm that it took place. After the meeting, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly managing editor Kim Lawton spoke with three of the participants: Rev. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary; Rev. Peg Chemberlin, NCC president; and Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. They gave background on the meeting, described some of the topics raised, and addressed criticisms by some in the religious community that the Obama administration hasn’t been doing enough faith-based outreach.