Psaki dodges question about Equality Act’s implications for Catholics: ‘Difference of opinion’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki conducts her first news conference of the Biden administration in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on January 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Psaki previously worked in the Obama administration as White House Communications Director and spokesperson for the State Department. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to directly answer a question asking for President Joe Biden’s thoughts about the Equality Act’s implications for Catholic businesses and individuals who seek to operate in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs. 

EWTN White House Correspondent Owen Jensen asked Psaki about the Equality Act’s implications for religious Americans, specifically Catholics, during a White House Press Briefing Tuesday.

“What does the president, who we know is Catholic, say to Catholic doctors, Catholic institutions who are fearful that if the Equality Act passes, it has the potential to trample on their conscience rights? What does the president say to those people who are concerned about that?” he asked. 

Psaki responded by saying that the president “has a difference of opinion.”

“[B]ut he has been a supporter of the Equality Act, and he also is a practicing Catholic and attends church nearly every week,” she responded. 

Tuesday was not the first time Jensen brought up the Catholic and religious communities’ concerns about the Equality Act, which would codify discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity into federal law without clear protections for religious organizations. 

At the March 2 press briefing, Jensen told Psaki that pro-life groups were “very concerned about the phrase ‘pregnancy discrimination’ in the Equality Act — that it would force doctors to perform abortions even if it violates their concerns.” 

“There are also concerns the bill would force doctors to perform gender transition surgeries and sterilizations, again, even if it violates their conscience. What does the president, President Biden, say about those concerns?” Jensen asked at the time. 

Psaki refused to answer Jensen’s question directly, instead pointing out that “the President has been a long supporter of Roe v. Wade” and has a “consistent belief that [the ruling that made abortion a national right] should be law.” 

“And he will fight to continue to protect that as being law,” she said. 

Jensen pressed Psaki for Biden’s thoughts about “conscience concerns,” to which she replied, “I’m just going to state what the president’s policies are.”

The Equality Act is a wide-reaching piece of legislation billed as a necessary measure to codify nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community into federal law. Biden promised to sign the legislation into law during the first 100 days of his administration, which will come to a close on Apr. 30. 

Conservatives and religious organizations have raised concerns about several provisions in the Equality Act in addition to those mentioned by Jensen at the White House press conferences. 

Specifically, critics of the Equality Act fear that the bill would expand the definition of a “public accommodation” to include nonprofit entities such as shelters and food banks as well as religious schools. 

Should this happen, opponents contend, Christian colleges could be forced to place men who identify as women in women’s dormitories. 

Additionally, religious employers could be forced to “include in their health plans things they might object to, like cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers for children and sex reassignment surgery,” warned Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory Baylor. 

Unlike most measures similar to the Equality Act passed at the state and local level, the federal legislation does not include religious exemptions.

The Equality Act has already passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on a largely party-line vote. The bill has stalled in the Senate, where most legislation requires 60 votes to pass. Democrats have a narrow 50-50 majority in the upper chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats. 

Senate Republicans are expected to unanimously oppose the Equality Act and one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Opposition to the legislation by all Republicans and Manchin would leave the legislation short of the votes needed for passage.

Biden has repeatedly touted his support for the Equality Act as a presidential candidate. As president, he has highlighted his Catholic faith extensively on the campaign trail. 

His support for abortion and embrace of other positions that contradict the Catholic Church’s teachings have led to one church official requesting that he refrain from referring to himself as a “devout” Catholic and some denying him communion. 

Despite his divergence from Catholic Church teachings on several important issues, two-thirds of American Catholics think Biden should still be able to receive communion, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.

40 Percent of White Evangelical Protestants Say They Will Likely Not Get Vaccinated: Poll

40 Percent of White Evangelical Protestants Say They Will Likely Not Get Vaccinated: Poll


Evangelicals across the U.S. are growing more divided over the use of COVID-19 vaccines.

Most recently, J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, posted a photo on Facebook of himself receiving the immunization. His photo drew thousands of comments, with some showing support for the vaccine and others accusing Greear of taking part in government “propaganda.”

In a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 40 percent of White Evangelical Protestants said they will likely not get the vaccine. Among all Americans, that number is 25 percent.

Also, in comparison, 27 percent of nonwhite Protestants said the same, making white evangelical Protestants one of the largest groups divided over the shot.

In response, The National Association of Evangelicals, representing about 45,000 churches, said it would be working with media outlets to host events and offer scientific information about the vaccine.

“The pathway to ending the pandemic runs through the evangelical church,” said Curtis Chang, a former pastor and missionary who founded ChristiansAndTheVaccine.com, a site associated with the association’s new initiative.

Chang said he worries that with white evangelicals making up 20 percent of the U.S. population, strong resistance to the vaccine could hurt efforts to achieve herd immunity in the country.

“There’s going to be some courage required,” he said of church leaders encouraging congregations to get vaccinated.

Along with Greear, other evangelical leaders have voiced support for the vaccine, including Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress and Rev. Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptists’ public policy arm.

“These vaccines are cause for evangelicals to celebrate and give thanks to God,” Moore told the Associated Press. “I am confident that pastors and lay members alike want churches full again, and vaccines will help all of us get there sooner rather than later.”

Still, other evangelical pastors have chosen to let the issue of vaccines stay a “personal issue.”

“We don’t believe that this is a scriptural issue; it is a personal issue,” said Aaron Harris, pastor of Junction City, Kansas church Calvary Baptist.

“We shouldn’t live in fear of the virus because we do have a faith in eternity. However, just because we aren’t in fear of it, where is the line of what we ought to do?” he asked. “I’m not going to lay down in front of a bunch of alligators to show my faith in that way.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Sittithat Tangwitthayaphum


Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

Is Christianity a White Man’s Religion?

The nagging sense that Christianity is the white man’s religion is an earnest question—and often an objection—voiced on the block, in the barbershop, and in scholarly debates. With our culture eager to be on the right side of history, this question is no longer exclusive to Black folks or other ethnic minorities.

White people, especially millennials and Gen Z, are reluctant to embrace a faith that even remotely feels like a tool for past or present oppression. Whether any of this language describes you—and even if it doesn’t—I’m glad you’re considering this important question. Done rigorously and honestly, this inquiry can lead you to firm faith. There are three general reasons that lead people to wonder if Christianity is the white man’s religion:

  1. History of Oppression. Under the banner of Christianity, African Americans have suffered tremendous pain and evil, from the appalling horrors of chattel slavery to the physical and psychological violence of Jim Crow segregation. How can African Americans embrace the same faith that was complicit with such evil?
  2. Whitewashed Jesus. The image of Jesus I saw while growing up—including in my home—was of a European man with blond hair and blue eyes. If the cornerstone of Christianity is depicted falsely, is this faith really relevant to the core concerns of Black people?
  3. Lingering Apathy Toward Racial Justice in the Church. As our broader culture grapples with the deaths of unarmed Black people at the hands of police, there is both apathy and hostility toward notions of racial justice throughout the American church. While our world seeks progress on these issues, many churches seem slow to take up the charge.

These reasons tend to overlap and merge. If Christianity has been used to oppress us; if Jesus is essentially European in appearance and concern; if Christians today remain apathetic toward our plight in this life; then isn’t Christianity the white man’s religion? Can such a faith truly be good for Black people?

Learning from Frederick Douglass

While Malcolm X is the Black historical figure known for levying the charge that Christianity harms Blacks, it’s Frederick Douglass roughly a century earlier who best guides us toward an answer. Douglass was both a Christian and a slave—and later an abolitionist, unparalleled orator, and lay preacher.

Douglass had tasted the truth and goodness of Christianity. Yet at the same time, he experienced the physical and psychological trauma of enslavement at the hands of a master who brandished Christianity to legitimize owning him. This dissonance haunted him. We can learn from how Douglass understood both his Christian faith and the abuses inflicted on enslaved people in the name of Christianity.

In the appendix of his first autobiography, filled with unflinching honesty about the suffering he endured at the hands of Christian slave owners, Douglass distinguishes between Christianity in its true essence and Christianity in its abusive distortion. I encourage you to read his words carefully, even if you’ve heard them before:

I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.

Do you hear it? In essence, Douglass provides a 19th-century answer to our question. Christianity isn’t the white man’s religion, because what his slave owners practiced wasn’t biblical Christianity but a distortion condemned by the very Bible they perverted. If you wish to grapple fully with the question of whether Christianity is the white man’s religion, then Douglass is a required teacher with a bracing lesson: to answer this question genuinely, you must distinguish between the Christianity of Christ and the Christianity of this land, between Christianity proper and its cultural distortions.

What his owners practiced wasn’t biblical Christianity but a distortion condemned by the very Bible they perverted.

Douglass’s example and exhortation show how to disentangle rather than deconstruct. Through careful disentangling and patient recovery, we find that Christianity uniquely speaks to the concerns of Black people with experiential and historical foundations that have empowered our people for centuries.

Faith That Cares for Body and Soul

Part of this disentangling and recovering comes from careful attention to history. Recall that slave owners wouldn’t permit major portions of the Bible to be taught to slaves. Consider that many slave owners resisted evangelizing slaves and baptizing them in the American colonies, for fear that they would then demand the dignity and equality befitting all God’s image-bearers. Such historical realities highlight Christianity’s innate concern for both soul and body, the world to come and the world we inhabit now.

By and large, slave owners knew that enslaved Africans in the colonies would discover in an uncensored Bible divine encouragement and empowerment for their full dignity and liberation. The majority of white Christian denominations understood the stakes: baptism into full membership in the church would affirm slaves’ full humanity and equality.

So slave owners and white churches sought to feed enslaved Africans a distorted faith—a white man’s Christianity—since true Christianity would’ve disrupted their systems of oppression. Do you see the horrific irony? They excised large portions of Scripture and pushed misreadings at the expense of what it actually emphasizes: God cares for both soul and body and is committed to holiness, righteousness, and justice for all people (Ps. 89:14).

Maybe the Christianity you’ve experienced is wedded to the functional denial of racism, or the knee-jerk proclamation that all lives matter, or a general disregard for the plight of Black people. Such sentiments produce an all-too-real effect: the foreboding sense that on the flesh-and-blood concerns of Black people, Christianity has nothing of substantive value to say—it is impotent and silent.

The witness of history is plain: white Christians in America have often tolerated or participated in slavery, segregation, and racial inequality. While many Christians have fought such evils because of their faith, too many others have twisted their faith into a rationale for maintaining racism’s status quo.

This is where Douglass’s model of disentangling is vital. The plainest reading of the Scriptures shows us that Christianity is not impotent or silent—it speaks with the God-breathed words that drove our ancestors to seek both spiritual and physical freedom. To a world that often demonizes blackness, assigning an inherent biological or cultural inferiority to those of African descent, Christianity declares all people are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–28). Those who enslave other people, then, are nothing less than ungodly (1 Tim. 1:10).

To those wondering what God desires—and to those who remain apathetic to pressing social issues—the Scriptures call us “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8). To those wondering if God cares for the plight of their people, Christianity gives us Christ himself, who understands suffering, grants salvation, and charges us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. To a world seeking to usher in its sense of perfect justice in the present, Christianity tells us God will do this fully and justly on an appointed day (Acts 17:31). This is good news for all people, and it is a vision of life and faith that speaks to the lingering pain of Black experience in America.

You don’t have to abandon the faith to critique its abuses of Black people—in fact, the greatest critiques against Christianity’s distortions are Christianity lived faithfully and Scripture read plainly. Though it has been muzzled and twisted, God’s Word continues to speak to our grittiest concerns.

Recovering Our Enslaved Ancestors’ Testimony

The phenomenon of disentangling biblical Christianity from its distortions is the only way to understand one of the most miraculous developments in modern history: enslaved Africans’ widespread embrace of the religion of their oppressors. Countless enslaved Africans saw past slave owners’ malicious misreadings of Scripture to gaze on—and embrace—the Christian faith. In the very faith misused to dehumanize them, they uncovered God’s affirmation of their humanity, his call to seek equality, and his saving revelation in Christ. So they carried their lament, scars, and trauma to heaven’s throne. Patiently and prayerfully, they searched the Scriptures and disentangled the true faith from its heinous distortions.

When it comes to the history of Christianity and African Americans, it’s understandable to focus on the abuses we’ve suffered in the name of the faith. There are many. We must reckon with this pain both for our healing and for our learning. But history is emphatic: the story of Christianity and Black people is more than a tale of our oppression. It’s a story that contains multitudes, a story of suffering and triumph, of unspeakable pain and unshakable faith.

If you’re African American or of African descent, you have a great cloud of ethnic witnesses, many of whom tasted suffering but found in the salvation of Jesus and in Scripture transformational hope for this world and the next. Black believers like Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, and Fannie Lou Hamer left an indelible mark on history by battling for justice and righteousness because of their faith, not despite it.

The story of Christianity and Black people is one of suffering and triumph, of unspeakable pain and unshakable faith.

If you’re on the edge of deconstruction—or have already made the leap—recall the cloud of ancestral witnesses who testify of Christ, not because of the coercion of the white man or colonialism, but because Christianity is true and good for all people.

I encourage you to reflect deeply, read prayerfully and widely from voices old and new, and converse communally before writing off the faith that carried our ancestors through harrowing trials with their dignity intact.

African Roots of Early Christian History

Another concern often arises from African Americans toward this religion of their ancestors. Even if Christianity has helped our people, is it natural to us—or is it just the legacy of colonization?

The massive popularity of Marvel’s 2018 Black Panther film, and the recent rise of African spiritualities among Black millennials, are linked to this question. Both reflect, in different ways, a growing desire among younger African Americans to recover their ethnic heritage—to “decolonize” from beliefs that prize Eurocentric cultural norms and return to one’s African or ancestral roots. Religious groups like the Black Hebrew Israelites capitalize on this impulse by claiming to offer a religious identity natural to African Americans, unstained by white people and the abuses of Christianity.

Of course, God loves ethnic diversity, designing and prizing it to the point of including it in the renewal of heaven and earth (Rev. 7:9). But this is not merely a matter of future hope—just look at Christianity’s origins, specifically in Africa. You don’t need to abandon Christianity to discover your African heritage; you need to discover Christianity’s African roots.

Consider that one of the three epicenters of early Christianity was Alexandria, located in Egypt. Many of the most formative Christian figures were African, from seminal theologians like Tertullian to Augustine to the faithful female martyr Perpetua. Christianity in Africa long predates chattel slavery and European colonialism. Places like Ethiopia and Sudan were home to thriving Christianity as early as the fourth century.

The late scholar Thomas Oden put it powerfully: “Cut Africa out of the Bible and Christian memory, and you have misplaced many pivotal scenes of salvation history. It is the story of the children of Abraham in Africa; Joseph in Africa; Moses in Africa; Mary, Joseph and Jesus in Africa; and shortly thereafter Mark, and Perpetua and Athanasius, and Augustine in Africa.”

Savior Who Cares and Knows

Historical and biblical answers to the haunting question of whether Christianity is a white man’s religion are important. But this question isn’t resolved through information alone. We’re not brains on a stick, after all; we’re creatures of desire, led by our hearts, which means our motives and impulses are knots of complexity and brokenness that require careful reflection. So as you wrestle with the question, will you interrogate the cultural narrative and heart impulses that make you think Christianity belongs to whiteness?

The image of white Jesus is so off-putting because it suggests that Jesus doesn’t understand or identify with any of us of non-Anglo descent. Yet Jesus himself drew near to those whom the world forgot and despised. Jesus himself felt the horrifying sting of injustice and suffering. Jesus himself suffered for our sake. There is no other religious figure who can so empathize with the pain and grit of human experience, including the story of African Americans over the centuries.

I urge you to freshly examine Jesus of Nazareth, as revealed in the Gospels, the singular figure who by his unjust suffering, his solidarity with the lowly, and his sacrificial love has been the living proof to our people that Christianity doesn’t belong to the white man, but to the risen God-man. He is the ultimate proof that God knows us, sees us, and loves us.

Calling Boulder Mass Shooter a ‘White Christian Nationalist’ Does Not Violate Misinformation Policies, Twitter Says

Calling Boulder Mass Shooter a ‘White Christian Nationalist’ Does Not Violate Misinformation Policies, Twitter Says


A Twitter spokesperson reportedly asserted that calling the gunman who recently opened fire in a Boulder, Colorado supermarket a “White Christian terrorist” does not violate the social media platform’s misinformation policies.

As Christian Headlines previously reported, on Monday, a 21-year-old man carrying a long gun opened fire at a King Soppers grocery store, killing 10 people, including one police officer.

At the time, media outlets and Twitter users denounced the attack as an act of White supremacy and racial injustice, even though the suspect’s identity had not yet been disclosed.

Police on Tuesday confirmed the man’s identity as 21-year-old, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. Alissa is reportedly a Muslim immigrant from Syria.

Alissa suffered from mental illness, including paranoia, and was “very anti-social”, his brother told The Daily Beast in a phone interview.

The gunman’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted, featured posts ranging from content that was critical of former President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration to content about mixed martial arts and Islam.

After Alissa’s identity was revealed, several Twitter users deleted their tweets calling him white. Other users, however, claimed that their tweets were based on Alissa’s light-colored skin and not his ethnicity.

Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, deleted a tweet that was posted on Monday asserting that “violent white men are the greatest terrorist threat to our country”. On Tuesday, she addressed her previous post concerning her assumption about the suspect’s ethnicity.

“I deleted a previous tweet about the suspect in the Boulder shooting”, Harris tweeted. “I made an assumption based on his being taken into custody alive and the fact that the majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are carried out by white men.”

Newsweek also reportedly presented several misleading posts to Twitter for review, including one user who described Alissa as “a White Christian terrorist”.

In response, a Twitter spokeswoman told the news outlet that the “White Christian terrorist” tweet and other false posts “are not in violation of the Twitter Rules”.

“We will not take action on every instance of misinformation. Currently, our misinformation rules cover COVID-19 misinformation, synthetic and manipulated media and civic integrity”, the spokeswoman added.

The incident comes days after last week’s shooting took place in Atlanta, Georgia when a gunman killed 8 people, mainly Asian women, across 3 spas. Similar accusations against white supremacy were made as the suspect, identified as Robert Long, 21, was white.

Long, however, told police that the attack was due to his struggle with sex addiction, and not because of racism.

Related:

Gunman Kills 10 People, Including Police Officer, at Colorado Supermarket

8 Dead in Mass Shooting at Atlanta Spas, Gunman Claims He Was Trying to ‘Eliminate’ Temptation due to Sex Addiction

‘Absolutely Distraught’: Georgia Church Revokes Atlanta Gunman’s Membership following Spa Shootings

Photo courtesy: Brett Jordan/Unsplash


Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.