Are you still getting those “Obama is a non-flag-saluting Muslim” emails?

Bored in Vernalchristianity, evangelicals, faith, news, politics, religion 21 Comments

In a June of 2006 speech, Barak Obama spoke honestly about the uncertainties of belief. “Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts,” Obama declared. “You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it.” Senator Obama laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.

Last week America was treated to another view of the faith of our presidential candidates when Barak Obama and John McCain attended Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA to appear in a nationally televised talk about religious issues. The two senators offered a clear contrast on faith issues, with McCain (unsurprisingly) representing a black-and-white conservative Christian perspective and Obama presenting a more nuanced approach. The Los Angeles Times reported:

Obama, a Christian who until recently attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, was more revealing about his faith.

Explaining what it meant to him to be a Christian, the Democrat talked of “walking humbly with our God.” “I know that I don’t walk alone, and I know that if I can get myself out of the way that I can maybe carry out in some small way what he intends,” he said.

He used a line from the New Testament to answer Warren’s question about what had been America’s greatest moral failure. “We still don’t abide by that basic precept of Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me,” Obama replied.

Has Obama succeeded in convincing the “believing” portion of the American populace that he is an acceptable Christian candidate? What do you think of his brand of Christianity? How does it stand up to McCain’s?

Comments 21

  1. I think both candidates respect religion enough to recognize the good it plays in society. Consequently I feel comfortable that both will respect our first amendment right to freely exercise religion. That’s what ultimately matters to me.

    As for Obama’s “brand of Christianity”, I suppose he sounds like a run-of-the-mill protestant to me. I didn’t like how his church applied their theology to their views on society but Obama doesn’t appear to share those views. I think he attended that particular church just to further his political ambitions. But it seems clear to me that Obama is a very Christian man who found Christ mostly by himself.

  2. So let me be sure of your title:
    Do you mean that I am not the only one who go this stupid email?

    Not being american I guess I should not care about your election, but you know the whole world is looking at you, hoping that you will chose the one who will try to clean the mess a little. Not that we believe that there is much that can be done, only dreamers (and yes there are some) think that you need to elect one who will stop the war in Irak as if it were possible.
    Anyway I got this email that was anything but not worth of a good utah-mormon who qualifies himself as righteous. I explained to him that although I did not really care about Obama this had affected me the day I opened the mail. I tried to explain to him why it had.
    He said he was sorry and that it will never happen agin (this is nice). But then not a word about how (if we’re talking about the same email) racist this was actually. Maybe it is because he is older, I don’t know.
    Anyway, it is funny how you look for a good God fearing president.

    A few months ago our president, who is truly catholic and not “traditionnaly” catholic, signed himself during some gathering about the catholic church in which he was there as the president. It was a scandal in France! He had signed himself in public!
    This made me laugh and then I was a little sad for him. It seems that he sincerely believe in God and can’t even live his faith publicly because he is our president. I would not want to be in his place. And then I thought that this was exactly what would be expected from an american president.

  3. “How does it (Obama’s religiosity) stand up to McCain’s?”

    When it comes to claims of religious beliefs, I tend to fall back on, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

    McCain pursued his second wife while still married to his first wife, simply because he saw her at a group function and thought, essentially, “Wow, what a babe!” When she reciprocated his attention, he dumped his wife and married her. (That’s according to his own words.) I am not aware of ANY expression of regret or remorse or even shame about his actions in that regard. In that regard, he is no different than Bill Clinton and John Edwards – as much as I DESPISE Edward’s “my wife’s cancer was in remission when I cheated on her” statement. As demented and vile as that statement is, McCain’s complete lack of admission that what he did was bad or wrong in any way leaves me cold.

    I think Obama stacks up fine against McCain in that arena. It would take another amoral, unrepentant egotist (like either Clinton, take your pick) to compare to McCain.

  4. Ray, in defense of McCain (and I am not going to vote for him, nor do I condone his actions), he did express regret for “the failure of my first marriage” in the faith forum last week…

  5. Of course he did, given the forum, but I don’t think he ever has expressed regret explicitly about having had an affair and leaving his wife for a much younger, “prettier” (and richer) woman. “The failure of my first marriage” is a very interesting way to phrase it, given HOW that marriage failed.

    Otoh, as much as I love politics, I am quite cynical about our current situation, so that probably jades my perspective somewhat – or greatly.

  6. “The failure of my first marriage”

    That implies that his wife had something to do with it. Oh yeah, she got in a car accident and was disfigured and had multiple surgeries.

    I thought McCain’s answers were about 4th grade level. Our Primary children could have given better answers to the faith questions than he did.

    Not to mention he has a very foul potty month.

    As you can tell, I am not a fan. McCain = Bush, only older.

  7. Gwennaelle said: “it is funny how you look for a good God fearing president” I couldn’t agree more. Even though most of our founding fathers were Deists and did not espouse the views of the congregations they attended, they attended because it was expected and required to hold public office. To hear many religionists tell it today, the whole country was founded on the basis of Christianity and religion. I agree with “the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate.” But that doesn’t seem to be happening when some are unduly alarmed by the notion of a Mormon, Muslim (even though he isn’t), agnostic, or atheist president. I only care that the president uphold religious freedom (including freedom from religion for those who desire). The true American religious inheritance should be religious skepticism and societal universalism, never a specific set of tenets. The fact that there is any “need” for a candidate to speak to his/her faith is a sideshow to the real issues.

    To Ray’s point, character is an interesting question (and Obama seems to win that one). That, to me, is not implied nor impinged by one’s faith and beliefs, only by one’s actions.

  8. I think Obama stacks up fine against McCain in that arena. It would take another amoral, unrepentant egotist (like either Clinton, take your pick) to compare to McCain.

    Nicely said. I’ve some additional comments I’ve made on the issue somewhere in the bloggerenacle, I should have saved them for here.

  9. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is a slimebag. I’m kind of bummed about that, as someone who will be voting Obama in November. Biden was the guy who made those ridiculous comments about Obama last year which effectively ended his own bid for president… “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,”

    I admittedly don’t know much about Biden’s official policy positions, but every time I’ve seen him speak he just oozes. I should have picked up some Obama 08 stickers and pins before Biden’s name got added.

  10. I got one of those forwarded from my mom, which my aunt passed on to her, and I bothered to reply with substantive refutations of the errors in fact listed there, as well as the racist tone…

    Now I simply reply to those emails with invitations to “Utahns for Obama” events in my area. That gets their blood boiling!


    I was a tiny bit disappointed in the choice of Biden. I would have preferred Jim Webb, Tim Kaine, or Kathy Sebelius myself. But Biden has a great voting record, tons of foreign policy experience, and, most importantly, looks and talks like all of those older working class white Catholic guys in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan who are losing their jobs and/or having their homes foreclosed on.

    If Obama loses and it can be pinned at all to Hillary supporters not getting on the trolley, it will not look good for the New York Senator and will damage party unity in 2012. Let’s see what she has to say to her supporters at the convention tomorrow!

  11. Personally I thought the choice of Biden showed that Barack Obama is serious about racial reconciliation. While Biden was justly condemned for that statement, he is generally not thought by those who did the condemning to be a racist in practice. He put his foot in his mouth, it was wrong and he admitted it. Obama obviously has forgiven him. To pin his whole reputation on that statement is sound byte politics at its worst.

  12. And his (Obama’s) unquestioned support of homosexual practices and legal protections is Christian, how exactly?
    Twenty years of a black racist church, and only recently his “eyes were open”… in the glare of the media’s spotlight!!!

    Please. I’m not stupid.

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  14. Those types of emails (from the title of the post) make me sad for two reasons:

    1. That it would matter.

    2. That there’s often so little difference between candidates that this stuff does end up mattering.

  15. There was a good article in Newsweek today. When we elect a Muslim president, I will believe there is true religious freedom in this country. The fact that the word “Muslim” is used as a scare tactic (side by side with “Mormon” and “atheist”) is reprehensible.

    Perhaps we haven’t come that far in the last 225 years since Jefferson’s campaign accused Adams of being hermaphroditic: “neither man nor woman.” Talk about Swift Boating.

  16. Good point, Hawk. I always laugh (or sigh, depending on the context) when I hear people talk about how vicious politics has gotten recently. Most of the campaigns in the first 150 years of America’s existence, at least, make our current campaigns seem like child’s play. Jefferson’s comment about Adams isn’t a bit hyperbolic in comparison to much of what was said for decades of American politics – and we rarely have dead people voting multiple times in our current elections.

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