February 08, 2011

The Public Faith of Barack Obama

“Judge not, that ye be not judged,” wrote St. Matthew (7:1). It is with that admonition in mind that President Obama’s comments (available here) at the annual National Prayer Breakfast might be best considered. Unlike many occasions of the past, Mr. Obama was apparently much more comfortable speaking about faith, or at least, much more fluid in reading a reasonable facsimile of an honest expression of faith from his teleprompter. This is remarkable because Progressives tend to view public pronouncements of faith much as vampires do sunlight. For Socialists, faith is even less palatable, and there is little doubt that Mr. Obama is a Socialist. One need only turn to Stanley Kurtz’s fine book "Radical-In-Chief" for meticulously researched, documented and convincing proof.

Mr. Obama’s comments, taken superficially, indicate that he is a man of deep Christian faith who daily practices that faith, in ways great and small. A more careful reading indicates a dedicated man of the left, a community organizer, who sees Christianity as merely another useful political tool to be woven into the language of the left and made to serve its purposes.

Keep in mind that there is a significant difference between private and public faith. St. Matthew also speaks to this issue (6:5): “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” Analyzing the motives of politicians is common American sport, not only when they are professing faith, but particularly when they use that profession of faith to justify and support their policies. Such is the case with Mr. Obama.

St. Matthew’s advice is about seeing the world accurately, overcoming our own shortcomings, and about not judging the relationships of others with God. The depth or sincerity of Mr. Obama’s relationship with God cannot be known, but St. Matthew’s advice in 7:16 “By their fruits shall ye know them,” can be heeded. The Bible makes clear that others must be judged not only by their words, but by their actions. Talk is cheap. Failing to understand this and to judge the motivations and actions of others is physically and spiritually foolish, even dangerous. The Bible often warns about false prophets and those who deceive. Informed judgment is not only pragmatic, but imperative for mere survival.

Americans are most comfortable with a President who does not try to be our minister-in-chief. On one hand, they’re comforted--to a limited degree--to know that any President of the United States has an abiding faith in God. Sincerely held, it serves to humble and temper any man. On the other, Constitutionally and practically, it’s not his place to appear to be a spiritual guide or enforcer in a nation where tolerance of all faiths is an article of secular faith.

When Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush spoke of their faith, progressives rolled their eyes and clucked their pseudo-intellectual tongues in derision at the provincial boobiness of it all. The media often worked itself to faux-righteous outrage at the simpletons trying to force fundamentalist Christianity on everyone from the Oval Office, despite the fact that it had not been a significant force in American politics since the dissolution of the Moral Majority, circa 1987. Still, few doubted the sincerity of their belief, and their expressions of fait--which did not occur only on special occasions--were unforced, natural and comfortable. Most importantly, they tended not to invoke faith as a tool of political persuasion.

Mr. Obama’s NPB speech reflects less a genuine daily walk with God than a growing facile ease with certain politically useful words, phrases and references. In fact, Mr. Obama’s comments at the NPB may not reflect the words of the Gospel so much as the words of William Shakespeare when he said in Hamlet 1:3: “This above all: To thine ownself be true.” Above all, Mr. Obama is certainly true to himself--whoever that may be.

There are compelling political reasons not to take Mr. Obama's religious pronouncements at face value. A Pew Poll taken in August--the most recent on this topic--revealed that Americans are less than convinced about Mr. Obama’s faith and its sincerity. Only 34% of Americans believe Mr. Obama to be a Christian, while 18% think him a Muslim. Amazingly, 43% have no idea of his faith. This is remarkable for several reasons. In 2009, 48% believed Mr. Obama to be Christian; in only one year 14% of the public abandoned that belief. They have good reason to be skeptical.

Americans tend to take individual professions of faith without undue suspicion, but they also tend to pay attention to what politicians do in addition to what they say, and by that measure, Mr. Obama’s Christian credentials were obviously found wanting. It is also remarkable in that Mr. Obama is arguably the most over-exposed POTUS in history, a day rarely passing without at least one pronouncement, speech or other message from Mr. Obama, and often, more than one, yet it strains the memory to recall any--let alone serial--affirmations of faith unattached to political persuasion escaping Mr. Obama’s eternally-moving lips.

It might also be useful to consider a small bit of truth: Despite his denials, Mr. Obama was a Muslim. There is no doubt that Mr. Obama is the child of a Muslim father. He has admitted it in writing, and even in his Prayer Breakfast speech. He was raised in a Muslim nation where he attended an Islamic school, his parents identifying him as a Muslim in school records. Mr. Obama's consistent, unabashed championing of Muslim causes and Muslim “outreach” is unusual--to say the least--for an American president.

There is no question that, in Islam, the children of a Muslim father are themselves Muslim for life. Islam is not like Christianity, particularly as it is practiced in America, where one may change faiths at will and suffer no more than the possible disapproval of parents or other relations. Muslims may not leave the faith except under pain of being declared an apostate. In Islam, there is but one punishment for apostasy: Death. It should go without saying that most Muslims, particularly American Muslims, do not practice the dictates of their faith in this matter. However, there are surely millions of Muslims who do take such things seriously--deadly seriously.

Mr. Obama has publicly declared himself to be a Christian, for 20 some years a Christian forged in the crucible of the Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago under the mentorship of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (more about this later). In the best spirit of American religious tolerance, I’ll take Mr. Obama at his word, but Mr. Obama had better hope that those Muslims who take apostasy seriously do not. This single fact--as well as the fact that he is the President of the "Great Satan"--makes it far more likely that a significant number of those Muslims to whom he has repeatedly declared “outreach” not only will not listen to him, but will actively wish to kill him, just as they would any apostate who might come to their attention and be within their reach.

Mr. Obama’s NPB speech was praised by an organization whose praise Christians would likely consider to be anything but: The American Humanist Association. AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said, “President Obama’s remarks acknowledge that children can be raised with a strong moral and ethical foundation, free from the presence of dogmatic religion.” This is but one example that might cause a reasonable person to question Mr. Obama’s motives and sincerity. There are many:

(1) Much has been written about the Rev. Wright and his church. Many Americans were shocked, not just by his serial anti-American, racist pronouncements from the pulpit, but by the raucous affirmation of those rants by his congregation. Mr. Obama’s claim that despite frequent attendance over two decades, he had no idea of the true nature of the doctrine of the church or of the beliefs of Rev. Wright strains credulity. Membership in that church would surely have been a wise political move for a young, black, up-and-coming Chicago community organizer, state senator and US Senator. But it is Mr. Obama’s association with Rev. Wright that is telling, and which provides a template for understanding what seems a new-found comfort with faith.

The Rev. Wright is one of America's foremost proponents of Black Liberation Theology (BLT), an offshoot of the Liberation Theology of certain Catholic priests throughout South and Central America. Both strains are stridently Marxist and anti-American, but BLT adds blatant elements of black racism, including the demonization of whites, crackpot, paranoid conspiracy theories, virulent hatred of white America, and a variety of other attitudes that have no grounding in the Word or practice of legitimate Christianity. Marxism rejects faith as a distraction from the glorious path of revolution.

Recall that during the 2008 campaign, when his association with Rev. Wright came to light in a way that could not be ignored, Mr. Obama’s first ploy was defiance. He could no more abandon the Reverend who was the man who led him to Christ, the man who married him, baptized his daughters, and who was his spiritual mentor than he could abandon his own white grandmother. But as the uproar quickly grew, political ambition quickly overrode Christian charity and loyalty, and Rev. Wright and his grandmother were equally quickly thrown under the campaign bus. This was merely the first, and most obvious, instance when politics would take precedence over faith in Mr. Obama’s public life.

(2) During the campaign Mr. Obama, believing himself to be speaking in private to Progressives--true believers--revealed his fundamental beliefs, beliefs reflected in his past, his subsequent actions, and never repudiated. He explained that those who opposed him--and them--were pathetic racists who hated those not like them and who would cling to God and guns. Faithful Christians are not in the habit of speaking of God, and of those who place their faith in Him so disparagingly, publically or privately.

(3) More recently, Mr. Obama, in speaking to Hispanics, made it clear that he considers at least half of America to be racists and enemies, and encouraged Hispanics to adopt his views. Class warfare and racial hatred are hardly hallmarks of Christianity, but they are the foundational political tools of Marxism and Community Organizing.

(4) In his speech, Mr. Obama used “I,” “me” or “my” no less than 70 times. Christians tend, particularly when speaking about faith, not to be narcissistic. True humility, particularly before God, is a fundamental Christian virtue. Mr. Obama is the virtual definition of narcissism. In fact, narcissism is virtually the antithesis of Christianity which absolutely requires the willing acceptance of and belief in One greater than oneself.

(5) The speech is also filled with Progressive/Socialist touchstones and articles of faith. Only a few years out of college, Mr. Obama was inspired by civil rights leaders, including Muslims, not to accept Christ, but to become a Chicago community organizer! It was only this truly holy calling that eventually led Mr. Obama to Christ. Particularly where Muslims are concerned, Mr. Obama has an unfortunate tendency to rewrite history. Most Americans were doubtless unaware of the important, pivotal contributions of Muslims to the Civil Rights Movement. So, most likely, are historians.

(6) According to Mr. Obama, people pray for Mr. Obama because of the evil directed at him by his political opponents. Most Christians tend to separate the sacred and secular, and would tend not to conflate opposition to Mr. Obama's policies with faith. But not Mr. Obama who quipped that God will one day show his political opponents how to vote. In fairness, this was delivered with a bit of humor, but was still an odd thing for a Christian to say.

(7) In the NPB speech, Mr. Obama said: “My Christian faith then has been a sustaining force for me over these last few years. All the more so, when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time, we are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but whether we're being true to our conscience and true to our God. ‘Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’” To the secular, this might seem innocuous. To Christians, it is self serving and backward. Christians are, first and above all, true to God who is the “still, small voice” of their conscience, the presence of God within them. A reliance on conscience before God is a slip, a telling slip for one who is presenting a carefully crafted, technologically supported narrative rather than expressing genuine faith.

(8) Mr. Obama invoked many Progressive touchstones and talking points such as: Health care, stopping home foreclosures (of those who couldn’t afford homes in the first place), improving the economy (by spending it into oblivion and regulating private business and industry to death), “justice,” “partnership,” and of course, promoting the absolute necessity of massive government involvement as the epitome of Christian caring and action.

(9) He also asked God to imbue him with humility, a task that might even give the Almighty pause. Mr. Obama asks God to “ our ears and our hearts to our brothers and sisters with different points of view...” yet, he will be “...firm in our [his] core principles.” To date, being open to different points of view has, for Mr. Obama, universally meant being open to his point of view, and embracing that point of view the only indicator of true humility on the part of his political opponents.

(10) A skilled politician anticipates the arguments of his opponents, and so did Mr. Obama’s speech writers when they had him read: “It’s a reminder that our time on Earth is not just about us...” This from a man whose followers call him “The One,” a title any observant Christian would consider, at best, anything but a show of Christian humility, and at worst, outright blasphemy. Mr. Obama’s boundless self-regard is legendary, but this title, never repudiated by Mr. Obama, is its most ugly, shallow and un-Christian manifestation.

(11) Google “Obama halos,” but only if you have a strong stomach. The first article alone features no less then 20 separate images of the deification of Mr. Obama. These photographs appear in a multitude of publications in a multitude of media. They were not taken by a single photographer or published by a single media source, or even ten. There are hundreds of them, taken from 2008 to the present. Perhaps the most egregious was produced last year, on the New York Times website, in time for Easter. It featured Mr. Obama superimposed on a cross with the White House at its base.

One might argue that Mr. Obama is not behind them, that he has nothing to do with them. Not quite. It takes no specific knowledge of photography to understand that for many of these images, it was necessary for Mr. Obama to pose, to specifically allow himself to be positioned to produce a given halo image. Surely a man with Mr. Obama’s reputed intellect knew what was going on? Mr. Obama has never, to my knowledge, repudiated this practice and has never encouraged his followers to stop it. Few Christians would be at all comfortable with depicting themselves with a halo, or with allowing others to so depict them.

This is significant in that the cult of personality--”great leader” worship--is a defining characteristic of Marxism/Socialism/Progressivism. Mr. Obama, from the 2008 campaign to the present, has encouraged and contributed to this anti-democratic fealty with such artifices as his pseudo-presidential seal, the non-existent, extra-Constitutional “Office of the President-Elect,” his ubiquitous "O" symbol, and the many posters and other images of Mr. Obama rendered in Cold War Marxist propaganda style. Much of this has surely been done with Mr. Obama’s knowledge and approval. None of it is the mark of the humble Christian servant.

Ultimately, the Pew Poll results indicate that Americans are, thankfully, less gullible than Mr. Obama believes. They are skeptical of his public professions of faith, particularly because of their timing. The dedicated Christian lives his faith, in good times and bad. Mr. Obama tends to speak of it only upon specific occasions that manifestly call for it, and for two primary reasons: As a means of justifying and supporting his policy preferences, and to ingratiate himself with potentially useful voter blocks. Considering his sound thwacking at the polls in November, this is surely one of those times. While caring for the poor and infirm is a Christian virtue, the Gospel stops somewhat short of mandating ObamaCare (as does Judge Vinson). Americans can take whatever scant pride may be found in Mr. Obama’s teleprompter skills, but regarding his faith—and much else--they have much about which to be skeptical, and much about which to pray.

Posted by MikeM at February 8, 2011 01:57 AM

Back in 2008, when I saw an interview of Obama where he called Jesus Christ a "significant historic figure" I knew that Obama wore Christianity like a suit, that can be taken off when convenient.

Posted by: Neo at February 8, 2011 06:08 PM

Obama is a closet-muslim practicing taqquiah (sp?), the doctrine of lying, fitting in, deceiving; professing Christianity but holding in his heart the ever-present allah, mohammed, and koran is both allowed and encouraged.

Witness his differential responses to Iranian and Egyptian demonstrations for democracy. One involved angst against the standing islamic regime - the other wishes to create a new islamic takeover.

To him it's nothing more than practicing what the prophet said was correct, necessary, and permissible.

Posted by: Charles at February 8, 2011 08:53 PM

Whatever words Obama uses to describe it, it's apparent that the only faith he has is in himself. A list of words describing him wold have to include "messianic" near the top.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at February 8, 2011 10:08 PM