Mr. T, whose birth name is Lawrence Tureaud, added, “We the people; together we stand, divided we fall! Black and white together, we shall overcome some day! The Nation that prays together, stays together!”
The performer also sent a third tweet expressing his love for the U.S. and his gratitude for being an American citizen.
Happy Birthday America and Happy Independence Day! The Land of the Free and home of the Brave.. The Red, the White, and the Blue.. In God we Trust! #Happy4thofJuly
Mr. T’s social media praise for America came at the same time other celebrities took aim at America and their perceived loss of rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the nation.
From actors and singers to TV hosts and commentators, some celebrities issued harsh rebukes.
Pop star Katy Perry, who famously grew up in a Christian home before entering the secular music arena, charged in a Twitter post that women in America “have fewer rights than an actual sparkler,” referencing her song “Firework” in the message.
“Baby you’re a firework” is a 10 but women in the US have fewer rights than an actual sparkler smh
“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi went even further, proclaiming there’s nothing to celebrate on July 4.
“Not much to celebrate this 4th, I’m afraid. Let’s just hope everyone can keep safe and peaceful today and that soon our nation veers away from this precipice,” she tweeted. “No matter what, we’ll keep fighting for the day where all humans have the same rights, at least of their own person and body, have privacy to make their own choices and to love whom they love and live in peace.”
She then shared the photo of a red, white, and blue cake that included the words, “Separate church and state.”
These reactions, which are tied to the overturning of Roe, were certainly balanced quite fervently by millions of Americans — like Mr. T — who shared favorable statements of hope and gratitude in honor of the nation and to pay homage to the sacrifices so many have made to protect and serve the U.S.
Macy Gray made her opinion on trans issues clear on Monday as she sat down with Piers Morgan on his TalkTv show.
During the no holds barred interview the singer, 54, also spoke about her recent controversial comments about changing the American flag.
She told the host: ‘Just because you go and change your parts doesn’t make you a woman, sorry.’
Piers, 57, then said that he believed most public figures were too terrified to say ‘what a woman is’.
The singer replied: ‘I know!.. I would say a human being with boobs. How about you start there? And a vagina.’
Adding: ‘Now that’s getting confusing.’
During the interview that aired Monday at 8pm, the duo discussed the issue of trans women in sport as the host said: ‘I support all trans rights to fairness and equality’.
Macy replied: ‘Me too.’
Before Piers added: ‘But not when you have people born to obvious physical superior bodies, transitioning and then thrashing women at their sports.’
Macy responded: ‘I totally agree. And I will say this, and everybody is going to hate me, but as a woman, just because you go and change your parts doesn’t make you a woman, sorry… I know that for a fact’.
This week, sky watchers in the upper United States, Canada and Europe have spotted a flurry of shimmering, ghostlike wisps in the night sky. The blue-silver streaks shine brightly only after the sun has disappeared beyond the horizon, entrancing viewers with their beautiful yet somewhat eerie appearance.
These are not your everyday clouds.
Researchers say these noctilucent, or night-shining clouds, are the rarest, driest and highest clouds on Earth. The uptick of recent activity has been unlike any seen in at least the past 15 years, according to satellite data. More activity could be on the way this weekend.
“Folks in the northern U.S. and Canada should absolutely be on the lookout for noctilucent clouds over the long weekend,” said Cora Randall, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, in an email. “We are near the peak of the noctilucent cloud season, and even in the absence of extraordinary events, they can appear over the northern continental U.S.”
The clouds most commonly occur near the poles but occasionally appear at lower latitudes as well. Rare and vibrant sightings have been reported from Oregon, Washington, Alberta, the United Kingdom and Denmark in the past few days. The best chance to see the clouds is to find a clear view close to the horizon and look north.
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Jennings is CEO of the Lambda Legal organization, a prominent advocate for LGBTQ rights. He sees his mission in part as fulfilling that hallowed American principle: “All men are created equal.”
“Those words say to me, ‘Do better, America.’ And what I mean by that is we have never been a country where people were truly equal,” Jennings says. “It’s an aspiration to continue to work towards, and we’re not there yet.”
Ryan T. Anderson is president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. He, too, believes that “all men are created equal.” For him, the words mean we all have “the same dignity, we all count equally, no one is disposable, no one a second-class citizen.” At the same time, he says, not everyone has an equal right to marry — what he and other conservatives regard as the legal union of a man and woman.
“I don’t think human equality requires redefining what marriage is,” he says.
Few words in American history are invoked as often as those from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, published nearly 250 years ago. And few are more difficult to define. The music, and the economy, of “all men are created equal” make it both universal and elusive, adaptable to viewpoints — social, racial, economic — otherwise with little or no common ground. How we use them often depends less on how we came into this world than on what kind world we want to live in.
It’s as if “All men are created equal” leads us to ask: “And then what?”
“We say ‘All men are created equal’ but does that mean we need to make everyone entirely equal at all times, or does it mean everyone gets a fair shot?” says Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, which promotes expanded voting rights, public financing of political campaigns and other progressive causes. “Individualism is baked into that phrase, but also a broader, more egalitarian vision. There’s a lot there.”
Thomas Jefferson helped immortalize the expression, but he didn’t invent it. The words in some form date back centuries before the Declaration and were even preceded in 1776 by Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, which stated that “all men are by nature equally free and independent.” Peter Onuf, a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia whose books include “The Mind of Thomas Jefferson,” notes that Jefferson himself did not claim to have said something radically new and wrote in 1825 that the Declaration lacked “originality of principle or sentiment.”
The Declaration was an indictment of the British monarchy, but not a statement of justice for all. For the slave owning Jefferson “and most of his fellow patriots, enslaved people were property and therefore not included in these new polities, leaving their status unchanged,” Onuf says. He added that “did not mean he did not recognize his enslaved people to be people, just that they could only enjoy those universal, natural rights elsewhere, in a country of their own: emancipation and expatriation.”
Hannah Spahn, a professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin and author of the upcoming “Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition,” says that a draft version of the Declaration made clear that Jefferson meant “all humans” were created equal but not necessarily that that all humans were equal under the law. Spahn, like such leading Revolutionary War scholars as Jack Rakove, believes that “all men are created equal” originally referred less to individual equality than to the rights of a people as a whole to self-government.
Once the Declaration had been issued, perceptions began to change. Black Americans were among the first to change them, notably the New England-based clergyman Lemuel Haynes. Soon after July 4, Haynes wrote “Liberty Further Extended: Or Free Thoughts on the Illegality of Slave-Keeping,” an essay not published until 1983 but seen as reflecting the feelings of many in the Black community, with its call to “affirm, that Even an affrican, has Equally as good a right to his Liberty in common with Englishmen.”
Spahn finds Haynes’ response “philosophically innovative,” because he isolated the passage containing the famous phrase from the rest of the Declaration and made it express “timeless, universally binding norms.”
“He deliberately downplayed Jefferson’s original emphasis on problems of collective assent and consent,” she says.
The words have since been endlessly adapted and reinterpreted. By feminists at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 who stated “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal.” By civil rights leaders from Frederick Douglass to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in his “I Have a Dream” speech held up the phrase as a sacred promise to Black Americans. By Abraham Lincoln, who invoked them in the Gettysburg Address and elsewhere, but with a narrower scope than what King imagined a century later.
In Lincoln’s time, according to historian Eric Foner, “they made a careful distinction between natural, civil, political and social rights. One could enjoy equality in one but not another.”
“Lincoln spoke of equality in natural rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” says Foner, whose books include the Pulitzer Prize winning “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.” “That’s why slavery is wrong and why people have an equal right to the fruits of their labor. Political rights were determined by the majority and could be limited by them.”
The words have been denied entirely. John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina senator and vehement defender of slavery, found “not a word of truth” in them as he attacked the phrase during a speech in 1848. Vice President Alexander H. Stephens of the Confederate States contended in 1861 that “the great truth” is “the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade and other recent Supreme Court decisions has led some activists to wonder if “All men are created equal” still has any meaning. Robin Marty, author of “Handbook for a Post-Roe America,” calls the phrase a “bromide” for those “who ignore how unequal our lives truly are.”
Marty added that the upending of abortion rights has given the unborn “greater protection than most,” a contention echoed in part by Roe opponents who have said that “All men are created equal” includes the unborn.
Among contemporary politicians and other public figures, the words are applied to very different ends.
— President Donald Trump cited them in October 2020 (“The divine truth our Founders enshrined in the fabric of our Nation: that all people are created equal”) in a statement forbidding federal agencies from teaching “Critical Race Theory.” President Joe Biden echoed the language of Seneca Falls (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal”) while praising labor unions last month as he addressed an AFL-CIO gathering in Philadelphia.
— Morse Tan, dean of Liberty University, the evangelical school co-founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., says the words uphold a “classic, longstanding” Judeo-Christian notion: “The irreducible worth and value that all human beings have because they (are) created in the image of God.” Secular humanists note Jefferson’s own religious skepticism and fit his words and worldview within 18th century Enlightenment thinking, emphasizing human reason over faith.
— Conservative organizations from the Claremont Institute to the Heritage Foundation regard “all men are created equal” as proof that affirmative action and other government programs addressing racism are unnecessary and contrary to the ideal of a “color-blind” system.
Ibram X. Kendi, the award-winning author and director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, says the words can serve what he calls both “antiracist” and “assimilationist” perspectives.
“The anti-racist idea suggests that all racial groups are biologically, inherently equal. The assimilationist idea is that all racial groups are created equal, but it leaves open the idea some racial groups become inferior by nurture, meaning some racial groups are inferior culturally or behaviorally,” says Kendi, whose books include ”Stamped from the Beginning” and “How to Be an Antiracist.”
“To be an anti-racist is to recognize that it’s not just that we are created equal, or biologically equal. It’s that all racial groups are equals. And if there are disparities between those equal racial groups, then it is the result of racist policy or structural racism and not the inferiority or superiority of a racial group.”
Soon after their daughter Isla turned 2, Amanda and Jason McNabb started spotting strange configurations of plastic, multicolored toy letters around their house in a Louisville suburb.
Next to a chair: C-H-A-I-R
By the couch: S-O-F-A
And near the Amazon Fire Stick remote: T-V
Not even Booger escaped identification. Next to the family’s tabby, the McNabbs found another series of the now-familiar block letters, this time spelling out C-A-T.
The culprit: their toddler. Isla’s colorful subtitles led her parents to have her IQ tested in May when she was approaching 2½, the McNabbs told The Washington Post. By the end of the month, they got the results: Isla had scored in the top 1 percent of the population. Her performance qualified her for membership in Mensa, an organization of people who score in the top 2 percent on IQ tests.
That makes her the youngest Mensa member in the country, American Mensa spokesperson Charles Brown told The Post in an email. In 2019, Brown, while speaking about a Texas 2-year-old who became a member of the organization, said the boy was one of three members younger than 4 and one of 56 younger than 6.
(RNS) — Students from Seattle Pacific University, a Christian school associated with the Free Methodist Church, have ended their more than month-long sit-in protesting the board of trustees’ decision to uphold a policy prohibiting the hiring of LGBTQ people. They are now planning legal action against the trustees.
“The board has elected to refuse our demands, meaning we will be moving forward with litigation. This is not a decision that we take lightly, but it is a decision we believe will protect the future of our university,” the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific said Friday (July 1) in a statement posted on Instagram.
Tracy Norlen, a spokesperson for Seattle Pacific University, told Religion News Service in an e-mail on Friday afternoon that there were no plans to change the university’s “employee lifestyle expectations,” which the dissenting students have described as homophobic and discriminatory.
As of Saturday afternoon, the student group has helped raise more than $35,000 through GoFundMe to cover legal fees.
Students participating in the sit-in, which began in late May, had given the board of trustees until July 1 to rescind the hiring policy. On Friday night, as the sit-in concluded, students hung paper hearts from the ceiling and walls of the building where the protest took place. There were 924 paper hearts in the “Heartfelt Reactions” display, representing the hours spent protesting the policy.
The display is a nod to the board of trustees’ statement in late May noting that their decision to retain the policy, “which brings complex and heart-felt reactions,” was made in order for the university to “remain in communion” with the Free Methodist Church USA.
At issue is the school’s employee lifestyle expectation policy that states, in part, that “employees are expected to refrain from sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the University’s understanding of Biblical standards, including cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity.”
The Associated Students of Seattle Pacific on Friday posted a letter on Instagram from Board Chair Dean Kato that was addressed to sit-in representatives.
“We acknowledge there is a disagreement among people of faith on the topic of sexuality and identity. But after careful and prayerful deliberation, we believe these longstanding employee expectations are consistent with the University’s mission and Statement of Faith that reflect a traditional view on biblical marriage and sexuality, as an expression of long-held orthodox church teaching,” the letter reads.
The Associated Students of Seattle Pacific, in the same Instagram post, said they “remain committed to pushing forward with the knowledge that God’s love is too big for small ideologies.”
In April 2021 the university’s faculty took a vote of no confidence in its board of trustees after members of the board declined to change the hiring policy. The no-confidence vote was approved by 72% of the faculty. In the aftermath, a campus work group was assigned to explore how the university could better address issues involving gender and sexual orientation, according to The Seattle Times.
The campus of Seattle Pacific University in Seattle.
Photo by Matthew Rutledge/Creative Commons
But before the trustees could vote on the campus work group’s recommendations, the Free Methodist Church USA issued a statement making clear the school would no longer be in communion with the church if it changed the hiring policy to be inclusive of those in same-sex marriages.
Chloe Guillot, who graduated last month, told RNS in June that their suit will be against the board of trustees, not the university.
“It’s not about the university being homophobic because, ultimately, the university is not. The university has been kept back by this board of trustees,” Guillot said.
Elon Musk has broken his nine day Twitter silence to share a surprise visit to see Pope Francis with four of his seven children – and even joked about his ill-fitting suit.
‘Honored to meet @Pontifex yesterday,’ Musk tweeted on Friday evening. He brought along four of his five teenage children for the encounter at the Vatican in Rome.
His fifth teen, previously known as Xavier, announced last month she’s now a transgender woman called Vivian Jenna Wilson, and that she no longer wishes to be associated with her billionaire dad.
Musk also conceded that the black tailored outfit he was wearing was not befitting of the occasion, replying to a Twitter user who mocked it by answering: ‘My suit is tragic.’
Musk has spoke of being an atheist, so it is unclear why he decided to meet the pope, and what the two men discussed.
With him for the trip were Griffin, 18, who is Vivian’s twin brother, as well as his 16 year-old triplets: Damian, Kai and Saxon.
Musk was married to their mother, Canadian author Justine Wilson, from 2000 until 2008.
Their first son, Nevada, was born in 2002 and died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at 10 weeks. Musk and Wilson went on to have five children: twin sons – Xavier and Griffin, 18 – and triplet boys: Damian, Kai and Saxon, now 16.
(RNS) — In 2018, the incoming class at Columbia Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminary in the tree-lined suburbs of Atlanta, was 47% white and 16% Black. Just three years later, a 2021 admissions brochure advertised an incoming class that was more than 64% Black and 32% white.
Many of the Black students at CTS credit the Rev. Sam White, a beloved admissions director, who is Black, with the surge in diversity, and when White was terminated on June 21, it set off a week of recriminations and protest.
The day after the Juneteenth holiday, White was called into a meeting with President Leanne Van Dyk and informed he was no longer an employee at the school, according to White’s lawyer, Grace Starling with Barrett & Farahany. Starling said her client was told the firing, which the attorney says came without warning, was for “insubordination” — which White disputes. Instead, Starling said White’s termination constituted discrimination and retaliation.
“In the middle of recruitment season, they’re pulling their director of admissions,” said Leo Seyij Allen, vice president of the seminary’s student government association. “I used to work in admissions at Candler (School of Theology, at nearby Emory University) so I know from experience, this is not what you do. And you don’t do it lightly.”
A seminary spokesperson said the school could not comment on legal matters, including “responses to unadjudicated statements or allegations from complainant’s attorneys.” The spokesperson added, “As a general statement, we regret that these limitations often hamper balanced narrative in public reporting.”
White arrived at the school in March 2020, two months before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off nationwide protests. In the aftermath, the new admissions director played a critical role in forming the seminary’s Repairing the Breach scholarship, according to students.
Launched in June 2020 as part of a series of racial justice commitments, the scholarship covers tuition and student fees for all Black students admitted into master’s degree programs. Many Black students said it was White and the Rev. Brandon Maxwell — a Black administrator who resigned in November — who made them aware of the scholarship and welcomed them to the seminary.
“Dean Maxwell was very adamant that this was the place I needed to be,” said Allen. “He told me, you want a place where you’ll be heard, you’ll be seen, and that there are faculty and staff and other students who have a similar mindset that’s oriented toward justice.”
Maxwell declined to speak with Religion News Service for this story.
Relations between White and the administration soured in September of 2021, according to a charge White later filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. White said in the filing that he informed Van Dyk that he had been interviewed by an attorney investigating racial and sexual-orientation discrimination against a colleague. After informing Van Dyk that he opposed how his colleague had been treated, White alleges that the administration retaliated.
“(M)y supervisors who are privy to my opposition have degraded my work product and work ethic to others at CTS, including the Board of Trustees, resources I need to do my job have been delayed, and duties have been removed from my purview,” White wrote in the EEOC charge.
The charge also claims Van Dyk denied White seminary-owned housing, though the benefit had been granted to other senior administrators, including White’s predecessors who were white.
“I believe that I was denied this benefit because of my race/color and in retaliation for opposing discriminatory conduct,” White wrote in the EEOC filing.
White, who filed his initial charge with the EEOC in February, amended the charge last week to include his termination.
“At every turn, he reported discrimination or retaliation, and did not receive any kind of institutional support, which ultimately is what necessitated him to reach out to an attorney,” Starling said.
In response to questions from RNS, the school’s communications director shared a document highlighting the school’s social justice efforts and demographics, including that 44% of faculty, 37% of staff and 31% of the board are people of color. In a statement, the school said, “We are confident we’ve stayed true to our mission to nurture faithful and effective leaders as well as conduct school business in a carefully considered, forthright, and equitable manner.”
In the fall, the school will welcome its first nonwhite president.
On Tuesday (June 28), a week after White was let go, roughly a dozen students gathered at the seminary’s streetside sign in what flyers called a “Blacklash March.”
“This protest is bigger than Pastor Sam. This ‘Blacklash’ is systemic,” said the Rev. John DeLoney, president of the African Heritage Student Association, at the protest. DeLoney decried Maxwell’s resignation, which the students maintain was forced, despite his being the main architect of the Repairing the Breach scholarship. DeLoney also noted the 2019 firing of the Rev. Ruth-Aimée Belonni-Rosario Govens, who is Hispanic, as the seminary’s chief enrollment officer.
Other students shared concerns about whether they were truly welcome at the seminary in light of these departures.
DeLoney and Allen told RNS the protest was in lieu of a meeting with Van Dyk, who they said had ignored their requests to meet. “We have no commitment that there will even be a meeting,” said Allen. “I’m floored and astonished by that alone. It tells me that you are not taking us seriously.”
Both Maxwell and Smith’s interim replacements are white men, and DeLoney and Allen said they are concerned that the Black leaders who provided key support to the Black students they recruited are disappearing.
“We’re feeling like all of the people in administration who had power to bring Black people in are now gone, and we’re now worried about the sustainability of this scholarship going forward,” said DeLoney.
Kanye West has been sued for alleged copyright infringement over use of a sample on a track from his Donda 2 album.
Ye, 45, was accused in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York federal court of using a sample from the 1986 Marshall Jefferson house track Move Your Body, aka The House Music Anthem, without prior permission or paying compensation in his song Flowers, according to an article on Thursday by Billboard.
The sample is ‘repeated at least 22 times throughout’ the song, according to a complaint filed by Jefferson’s publisher Ultra International Music Publishing in US District Court in New York.
Jefferson, 62, wrote and performed Move Your Body that peaked at number 34 on Billboard’s Dance Singles Sales chart in August 1986.
Move Your Body first became popular in Jefferson’s hometown of Chicago before it was released by Trax Records in July 1986.
‘I’ve been sampled thousands of times. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Getting done by another artist, a BLACK artist, a fellow Chicagoan without acknowledgment is disappointing,’ Jefferson said in a statement to Billboard.
The lawsuit filed by attorneys Christine Lepera and Bradley J. Mullins of the firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp also named English entrepreneur Alex Klein, 31, as a defendant along with his company Kano Computing Limited.