Friday, August 20, 2010

On President Obama's Religion

The topic of President Obama's religious preference and practice has been hot and heavy for several days in light of the controversy over his statement with regard to the mosque proposed for near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, the site where the World Trade Center stood until 2001. The results of polling by the Pew Foundation which was actually done prior to the statements about the mosque indicated that 31% of Republican self identifying people believed that Barack Obama is Muslim in his religious belief and practice. The amount of talk on this topic since has been just unbelievable. From the White House to Rush Limbaugh to CNN and Fox, it's a topic that has had substantial legs to it.

The great coach John Wooden said, "If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me."

It's funny, if you think on this from the Christian point of view, any judgment of Mr. Obama becomes a tricky and ironic thing. We are instructed by Jesus not to judge. Jesus says that we should not be trying to get the speck out of our neighbor's eye while we have a board in ours. (Matthew 7:1-5) That doesn't mean we can't ever speak out, it just means that we speak our piece knowing that we too are sinners in need of prayer. Another biblical recording of Jesus' words strikes me as applicable now--John 15, where Jesus speaks of fruit and vine. Jesus calls Himself the true vine, and the disciples the branches, and instructs them (and us!) to remain in or attached to Him to bear fruit as His disciples. (While that "fruit" is never specifically described, both Christians and non-Christians know Christian fruit when they see it.)

You know, it's funny, and this is why I don't think I would ever go into politics. You are screwed either way. If you wear your faith on your sleeve, as President George W. Bush did, you are accused of being too "religious." If you show little or no tendency towards religious observance, as President Obama has, you may find yourself trying to explain your spiritual life to a skeptical public.

Now, for my honest opinion, having watched and listened for the past two plus years. I think the most important thing in Barack Obama's life is Barack Obama. I do not believe that any faith he has in a "Higher Power" is more important to him than the care and feeding of his own needs, wants and ego structure. I do believe that this is something that all people in public life, and especially those in the political life are prone to. I may have said enough with that to get me into trouble, but truly I don't really appreciate a whole hearted embrace of Christianity. And I doubt he has embraced Islam. Really, when you consider it, we may have our first spiritually/religiously "post modern" president here.

What I want out of my president, and what everyone should be looking for, is that he/she is looking to do the very best for the United States of America as far as he/she can humanly understand. I would prefer my president to be Christian, since the Christian faith played such a part in the founding of the country and is still the majority faith in the USA. There are aspects of Islam that would clash with our Constitution, e.g. many aspects of the Sharia Law that is a part of many Muslim sects. There are parts of Christianity that don't work in our secular representative republic either. And a raging ego, like that of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, can damage a country badly too. So in the end, my president can be of any religion or none, but he/she needs to manage and lead the country in a way that will benefit the majority of its citizens. How exactly that is done, that managing and leading, is the rub now, isn't it. And the differences in opinion about the country's path are what give rise to these types of discussions, as instead of truly talking about solutions and problems, we talk bad about each other.

Boy, this post was hard to write! I hope this helps someone out there!


Bob G. said...

I don't look at this as being "judgmental", but rather questioning.
There too many unanswered queries that need clarification (imho).

To me, when regarding "fruit"...if it LOOKS like a fig, SMELLS like a fig, and TASTES like a know the rest.

With that said, you're right that it IS all about "Barry".
The man needs to learn humility...

And if you are LEADING a nation, you'd best find some common ground with AMERICANS FIRST in darn near EVERY aspect of what makes up those Americans...and hold EVERYONE ELSE second.

Slinging mud at every and all who find themselves at odds with your policies, or who just want some answers is the BEST and FASTEST way to turn ME off, when all that is needed is some HONESTY, instead of diversion and smoke & mirrors.
And some common sense wouldn't hurt one bit, either.

Debate is what's needed - not division.

You wrote a very good post.

Have a safe weekend.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I have never been happy with Mr. Obama--I wanted Hilary to be chosen by the Dems and for sure I would have voted for her. Mr. McCain gave untold good service to our country but he was creaking through the campaign. I also think Sarah Palin is an invincible egotist. I fear she will be running for the Republicans next.

Mr. Bush led with the "religious card". The trap is of course, everyone will watch to see if you move one iota off the mark. He played it, and the opposition tried to trump it. Personally I am not in favor of using the religious card for that reason among many.

So I don't care if Obama is Muslim. I only care, as you say, is he running the country in a good manner?

George W. Bush left us with one unholy mess. Obama has been so busy trying to push through his own stuff that he hasn't fixed any of W.'s messes. This is not good for the country.

I just wish we could get a decent darn candidate for this office. They are all bad--or the opposition tears them to shreds. I liked Clinton. I didn't care about his bedroom follies. She was a consenting, frivolous, venial adult.

So, I bet it was hard to write! You think so strongly about the good that faith brings, this must be very hard. But I think "rendering to Caesar" does apply, and also, the parable of the talents. Somehow if we could get candidates whose talents were useful . . .

Very thoughtful and wonderful post.
Ann T.

Ed G. Mann said...

Two religions that take their identities via lineage are the Jews and the Muslims.
To absolutely be a Jew, your mother must be a Jew. If your father is a Jew that's nice but the female is the factor.

Of course we know what Islam thinks of women, it does follow that the faith devolves patrilineally. Obama's father was Muslim; the faithful consider him to be too.

He will at best, wind up an apostate.

the observer said...

Bob G:
Thanks for the comment and the reminder of that Scripture.

Mr. Obama is one of the most opaque people we have elected in a long time. Since about Reagan, all presidents have been very free in the release of their histories and personal information. Mr. Obama has not released school information, papers, and of course, the infamous long form birth certificate. Even if he has nothing to hide, he acts like someone hiding something. I don't like that--just come clean if you lied to do something like get scholarships or something!

It's a problem that we cannot debate merits of ideas without the ad hominum attack, and that goes to both sides. However, often Mr. Obama is defensive right away.

Thanks for dropping in and reading along.


the observer said...

Ann T:
The post was hard because I was very conscious of the balance between questioning and judging. It is so easy for us to fall over to judging! Yet I didn't want a mealy-mouthed middle of the road post that didn't really say anything.

We've faced the question of the religion of the POTUS before--JFK was the first Roman Catholic elected back in 1960. Questions also came up about Mitt Romney and his Mormonism. Although as I said in the post, I like a Christian POTUS, I do believe that the structure of our government is resistant to imposing a theocracy in the absence of turning the place into a dictatorship.

I too am looking for a few good men and women for government. Wonder where they all are?

Thanks for the good comment!
The Observer

the observer said...

Ed G. Mann--
Thanks for coming by! You really are in the trenches there in Vermont, a state I love, lived in for several years, my mom is still there, but politically, what a bunch of nuts!

Mr. Obama has one of the most unusual backgrounds of any of our presidents. His parents, divorced (never married?), raised in foreign lands in a very different culture, immersed in the most radical left environments you can find in America. As one of my commenters above noted, he has little common ground with much of America, especially us "bitter clingers" here in Flyover Country.

In addition, he is possessed of a big ego and a bit of a narcissist. Barring one of those amazing conversion experiences, I agree with you, he will not have a faith of any substance, including Islam, despite his birth right.

Thanks for commenting!
The Observer