The Obama Watch

Obama’s Campaign-Season Christianity

He won't separate it from a chance at winning.

By 9.30.10

Send to Kindle

Barack Obama threw his mom under the parish van on Tuesday, describing her as formlessly "spiritual" while casting himself as the self-made convert. "I am a Christian by choice," he said at a campaign event in New Mexico this week. In 2007, he said the opposite: that he became a Christian through his mother. "My mother was a Christian from Kansas…I was raised by my mother. So, I've always been a Christian," he told a voter who had inquired about his Islamic background.

The woman at the campaign stop in New Mexico on Tuesday asked him to explain why he is a Christian and coupled it with another one about his support for abortion rights. The sequence of questions proved awkward, with the answer to the latter question rendering his answer to the first one meaningless.

"[The] precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead—being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me," he said. He threw in a few more vague-sounding clichés and a paean to religious relativism for good measure, and reassured the lady that "I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith."

But moments later, he said that abortion is none of his business. He is not NARAL's keeper. Bald violations of the Golden Rule are a purely private matter of no relevance to his public life, though he does personally think killing one's neighbor should be "safe, legal, and rare."

Obama, nevertheless, seemed to welcome the first part of the question. Like his recent Sunday stroll to church with photographers in tow, it gave him the chance to try and dispel the public's hunch that his Christian faith is phony. Perhaps Clinton will lend Obama his well-thumbed Bible, which was often seen peeking out of the pocket of Bill's winter coat after the Lewinsky scandal broke.

While one strains to find evidence that Christianity guides Obama's politics, it is true that politics guides his Christianity, particularly during campaign season. Obama still believes in the separation of Church and state, but he is not in favor of the separation of religious rhetoric from winning. The "Christian by choice" is more like a Christian by campaigning. The doctrines of Christianity are of no interest to him unless they happen to coincide with a political point he needs to make at a given moment, and even at those times his treatment of them is highly manipulative.

Obama always sounds more comfortable and enthusiastic when talking about other people's faiths than his own, which he frequently implies is an embarrassment in need of serious revision. He speaks of his great reverence for the Koran, for example, but thinks the Bible deserves an interpretational overhaul, to expunge all those silly parts that condemn feticide and sodomy. Islam is a "great religion," he says, but Christianity could use serious reform under the light of modern "progress."

In The Audacity of Hope, Obama presents the platform of the Democratic Party as far more inerrant than the Bible. His discussion of religion in the book is that of the cocky college sophomore, who holds without proof that religion is a private if endearing superstition while the secularist assumptions underlying "democratic pluralism" are infallible truths that should determine public life for all.

One would think a pol who stands at best idle and at worst supportive while abortionists hold scalpels over the heads of unborn children would refrain from using the story of Abraham and Isaac to marginalize the Bible. But Obama plowed ahead anyways in his second book, using the Old Testament story to argue that the Bible is subjectively meaningful but publicly dangerous.

"If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime; to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing," Obama writes. Abraham, he continues, had his subjective "experience" with God, which may have been "true" for him, but from the standpoint of democratic pluralism his behavior made him a very bad citizen indeed: "it is fair to say that if any of us saw a twenty-first-century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would call the police; we would wrestle him down; even if we saw him lower the knife at the last minute, we would expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away and charge Abraham with child abuse."

Obama sums up this ludicrous sermon on the "reason" of secularism and the scary caprice of religion by saying that the "best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know." Of what that lowest-common-denominator wisdom exactly consists, he leaves vague, but the grim consequences of this triumphant exercise of "reason" are all around us. One of its not-to-be-questioned truths is that plunging knives into the necks of unborn children is a "matter between a woman and her doctor."

In the end, Abraham didn't kill Isaac. The same can't be said for multitudes of unborn children under Obama, whose friends at Planned Parenthood lift the knife while he uses our tax dollars to pay for it. Abraham rejected infanticide; Obama's "reason" as a state senator in Illinois led him to waffle on banning it.

Finally, if Obama were truly a "Christian by choice," who believed that God the Father allowed God the Son to be crucified as a sacrifice for man's sins, he would never talk with such secularist crassness about Abraham's prefiguration of it.        

 

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.