22:58 GMT28 February 2021
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    On Wednesday, Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, becoming only the second Catholic commander-in-chief in American history. The first one was former president John F. Kennedy.

    Social media users are buzzing over a recent New York Times article claiming that President Joe Biden is “perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century.”

    The controversial article, published Saturday, was captioned, “the new president elevates a liberal Catholicism that once seemed destined to fade away.”

    Indeed, Biden has been a dedicated parishioner who regularly attends sermons, and even his inauguration day was no exception, as Biden attended Catholic Mass, together with his wife Jill, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. In his inauguration speech, Biden also quoted the Bible when referring to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic: “As the Bible says: ‘Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ We will get through this together!”.

    On Sunday, he was spotted at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, attending his first Mass as president.

    Nevertheless, netizens rushed to argue that Biden is not the only true believer among the commanders-in-chief, pointing out that former presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter can also be considered deeply religious politicians, and referred to some of their statements in the past. 

    ”I think it is fair to say that Biden is sincere in a version of liberal Christianity, but the most religiously observant in a half century? Not even the most religiously observant liberal in that stretch (Carter),” politics editor Jim Antle tweeted.

    There were also those who said religion was irrelevant to them when speaking about the administration, since they judge them by their actions and not based on how deep their faith is.

    Many also criticized the author for dividing Christian religion into "liberal": and "conservative", arguing that such definitions are inappropriate and accusing the newspaper of politicizing religion. Others noticed the difference in covering religious Republicans and Democrats.

    At the same time, someone suggested faith is actually a private matter so people shouldn't be judging others for how they practice their religion.

    Controversy Over Biden's Stance on Abortion

    The criticism, however, was mainly attributed to Biden identifying as a Catholic man, while supporting abortion and reproductive rights - something church representatives generally oppose. In particular, the newly sworn-in president is set to reverse the anti-abortion policies of the previous administration, including revoking the so-called “Mexico City Policy”.

    The regulation blocks federal funding for NHOs that either provide abortion services or lobby to make abortion legal. Since Ronald Reagan, the regulation has been rescinded multiple times by Democrats and restored by Republicans. Restoring the “Mexico City Policy” was one of the first actions taken by George W. Bush during his presidency.

    In addition, Biden has vowed to codify the Roe v. Wade court decision into federal law. The 1973 ruling stated that restrictive state regulation of abortion was unconstitutional.

    Earlier this week, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) condemned Biden's abortion and reproductive agenda, accusing him of promoting “moral evils”. At the same time, its president Jose Gomez said that abortions are a “matter of social justice”, noting that it is a practice that is more common among the poor and minorities.

    Biden's position on abortion has not been consistent over the course of his career. Back when he was a senator, Biden endorsed the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortions unless the pregnancy would endanger a woman's life, or in cases of rape. Biden then believed that faithful Americans should not have to fund abortions that are contrary to their religious views.

    The Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress several years after the Roe v. Wade decision, has been strongly criticized by Democrats, who consider it to be a “discriminatory policy,” especially harmful for low-income women and those living in rural areas.

    Just two years after Roe v. Wade was adopted, Biden said, “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”

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    abortion, inauguration, church, Joe Biden, US
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