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Michael O'Loughlin :
49 article(s)

Mike O'Loughlin is a writer living in Washington, D.C., covering religion, politics, and culture. In addition to Busted Halo, his writing appears in the Advocate, National Catholic Reporter, Foreign Policy, Religion & Politics, and America. He's also appeared on Fox News and MSNBC. Follow him on twitter at @mikeoloughlin.
April 4th, 2013

Notice a proliferation of red on Facebook last week?
Many of your friends, and perhaps you yourself, may have changed their profile pictures to a red equals sign, showing their support for same-sex marriage as the Supreme Court heard arguments in two pivotal cases. Tuesday, the justices listened to arguments surrounding California’s law that banned same-sex marriage there, known as Prop 8.

March 21st, 2013

Washington is in the midst of Cherry Blossom season. In the next few weeks, more than one million tourists and locals alike will flock to the area along the National Mall, especially around the tidal basin near the Jefferson Memorial, to take in a view of the white and pink blossoms that appear on thousands of trees each spring. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo presented 3,000 cherry trees to the people of the United States as a symbol of peace and friendship between the two nations. Today, there is a 16-day festival complete with a 10-mile road race, elaborate parties, photo classes and allergies. Oh, the allergies.

February 28th, 2013

As Congress struggles with how to create a national budget, and with hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to the military, federal agencies, and social service programs looming, a group of religious leaders released a letter this week reminding elected officials of their duty to the poor and marginalized.

February 14th, 2013
How the new pope might engage the political world.

For the past 700 years or so, the election of a new Pope was always preceded by the death of another, and so it meant, presumably, that Catholics would spend some time mourning the loss of their spiritual leader before considering who might serve next.

January 31st, 2013
Will John Kerry look for global guidance from his faith?

Tomorrow, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry will be sworn in as Secretary of State, taking control as Hillary Clinton begins the next chapter of her very public life. Clinton visited more than 120 countries and racked up one million miles of travel. She introduced a refreshing sort of diplomacy, bringing American soft power to the people, hosting Q&A events with everyday folk in the countries she visited, paying special attentions to issues that affect the lives of the most vulnerable, women, and children.
Kerry, a Catholic, begins his tenure as the nation’s chief diplomat at a time when international flare-ups abound and pressures on the United…

January 17th, 2013

This weekend, up to 800,000 people will converge on Washington, D.C., to celebrate President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, down from the 1.5 million who braved bitter cold four years ago but more than the second-term crowds greeting his two predecessors.
There’s less palpable excitement this time around, for sure, but there’s still the sense of a new beginning, hope for cooperation and work that will address some of our nation’s challenges.
What, I wonder, will those 800,000 individuals hope for from Obama’s second term? Each person there, I imagine, has his or her own wish list for the president. Here’s part of mine.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The President owes his reelection,…

January 2nd, 2013

Seven-hundred and thirty-three million dollars. That’s how much the Washington Post estimates the two candidates spent on television advertising during this presidential election. Of that, just shy of $658 million was spent on negative ads, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney choosing to use their money to tear one another down about 90% percent of the time. And did it work? We feel divided, bitter, and cynical. (Note: The total spent by candidates, parties, and outside groups in this election will add up to some $2.6 billion.)
This morning, I suspect, half of us are happy and half disappointed or angry. It’s now clear that Barack Obama will serve a second term as President of the United States. But…

December 13th, 2012

As you probably know from this Busted Halo video, Advent for many Christians is a time of joyful preparation and longing for Christmas. During this season, we are called to spend time with family, reflect on the blessings we enjoy in our lives, discern how we might help others, and set aside time to find peace during an otherwise hectic and stressful few weeks.
It was within this context, during the second week of Advent, that I read with horror — on Twitter as it happened — that a masked gunman opened fire in a suburban Oregon shopping mall, spreading terror, and ultimately killing two individuals before succumbing to gunfire himself.
Last week, a member of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, Jovan Belcher,…

November 29th, 2012

We’re just weeks out from the last bruising election, but speculation about the next presidential contest has already begun. But as tempting as it is for a politics junky to look ahead a few years, Catholics should consider the lessons from 2012.
What worked?…
Catholic voices helped defeat a proposed assisted-suicide ballot question in Massachusetts and advance DREAM Act legislation in Maryland.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley led Catholic leaders who contributed to a broad coalition of religious and secular leaders who opposed the measure. Together, they made a moral, ethical, and legal case as to why voters should reject the law and they succeeded, albeit rather narrowly.
In Maryland, voters passed

November 1st, 2012

As I write this post, much of the East Coast is suffering through what CNN is now calling Superstorm Sandy. More than two feet of snow is burying West Virginia. Maryland, New Jersey, and New York are flooded. Nearly 10 million people are without power from Maine to Virginia. Damage will run into the tens of billions of dollars, and people will suffer over the coming weeks as they try to repair their homes, cars, and finances.

October 18th, 2012
Injecting a little humor into the 2012 presidential election

We all know there’s a presidential election going on, right? And presidential elections are serious affairs with serious candidates running for a serious job with serious consequences. But with campaigns running effectively nonstop for years (Mitt Romney started running in 2007 and hasn’t really stopped since), all that seriousness gets very tiring. Maybe it’s time for some laughs — a little humor to go with all of the speeches, campaign rallies, candidate e-mails, and election TV commercials that we have been reading, watching, and even avoiding for the past many, many months.

There are, thankfully, some good laughs to be had on the campaign trail. If you’re a fan of Obama, there wasn’t much funny in the first presidential debate. But the VP debate a week later had Joe Biden laughing and provided plenty of material for The New York Times to create songified debate highlights. There was a repeat performance based on this week’s presidential debate (above)…

October 4th, 2012

Last night’s debate between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was a slugfest focusing on taxes and the economy. Romney came out swinging, commanded the stage, and set the agenda. Obama seemed listless, tired, and resigned. Both candidates appealed to middle class voters, the unemployed, and those concerned that they pay too much in taxes. But what about another type of voter…?
Next week, for the first time in our nation’s history, two Roman Catholics, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan, will share a stage for the vice presidential debate. This would have been unheard of only a few decades ago. When Al Smith became the first Catholic nominated for the presidency in 1928,…

September 20th, 2012

Last week, I realized poor people don’t matter.

I was spending some time in New York City — specifically Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I met with a friend for lunch at an Italian restaurant a few blocks from Central Park. We were in one of New York’s more posh neighborhoods, home to the wealthy who have the time and money to enjoy all that New York has to offer.

September 6th, 2012
How faith leaders are taking part in the Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention is going on in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week, a city where Evangelical legend Billy Graham’s career remains a powerful presence.
Pre-Convention activities began Sunday with a group called Charlotte 714 hosting a non-partisan prayer service that called for repentance and renewal in Charlotte and across the United States.
A group of about 200 Muslim activists also gathered for prayer in Charlotte Friday, with organizers choosing Charlotte in an attempt to highlight issues important to the Muslim minority in the United States.
Convention attendees can attend morning prayer each day, a Jewish Community Training workshop, and a panel on religious liberty for…

August 29th, 2012
A look at the role faith, actually several faiths, will play at this year’s Republican National Convention

The Republican National Convention begins today in Tampa, Florida, where a bit of religious history will be made when Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and Paul Ryan, a Catholic, are nominated for president and vice president.

August 23rd, 2012
What issues will matter to Catholic voters in this year's presidential election?

The U.S. Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom campaign is finished, but the Romney campaign hopes to capitalize on some Catholic bishops’ efforts against the Obama administration’s contraception health care mandate by recapturing Catholic votes in key states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The magic bullet? Religious liberty. The campaign believes questions over religious liberty have united Catholics, and voters of all faiths, across the spectrum.
“When people of faith feel like their freedom of religion is being trampled upon, that is something that unites people of all faiths,” said Peter Flaherty, a Catholic and longtime Romney advisor who is credited with…

July 26th, 2012

Have you ever shot a gun? I went to college in New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state where conservatives and libertarians preach limited government and personal freedoms, among them lax gun laws that would make the state feel more at home in the South than in New England.

July 12th, 2012

Washington was ablaze last week with temperatures soaring into triple digits and the intense humidity adding an extra level of misery to one of the hottest cities in the nation. That’s what my friends told me anyway. I was lucky to have escaped for the week, heading up to New Hampshire for the July 4th holiday on the seacoast with family and friends. I don’t think I was alone. It seemed that the campaigns were on hiatus for a bit and not much news emerged from either camp, though vacationing itself was a subject of some considerable media attention.
Mitt Romney was photographed atop a jet ski being driven by his wife, Anne. One commentator suggested the photo may be Romney’s John-Kerry-windsurfing moment, though…

June 28th, 2012

With anti-Vietnam War protests raging, and the nation bitterly divided, Democrats in Massachusetts searched for a candidate to challenge the pro-war incumbent for the third Congressional district. Recognizing the power of religious leaders in the movement, they turned to the Jesuit priest and professor Robert Drinan. As a priest and academic, Drinan worried that he was not as effective as he could be in advancing Catholic social thought. In an interview with Look… magazine in 1970, Drinan said, “I’ve written books and I’m a professor, but who reads books? Who listens to professors? It’s Congress that turns it around, and I should be there.”
Convinced by party bosses to enter

June 14th, 2012
Reflections on celebrating moments of national patriotism

A couple of weeks ago, as Britons and the world celebrated the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, I was smugly perplexed. I didn’t understand how a nation that prides itself on being so enlightened, so secular, and so civilized could buy into the hoopla surrounding royalty, monarchy, and rule by heredity. As a good American, and a native Bostonian, I know it is my duty to scorn all things royal, so I realized my views weren’t exactly without prejudice.
After reading and watching some of the coverage, the phenomenon became a bit clearer to me. It seems that those standing out in the chilly London rain to watch Elizabeth and her family float down the river aren’t celebrating her, per se, or even the monarchy…

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