Call to Renewal and Obama’s Lack of Faith!
In a keynote address given at the “Call to Renewal Building a Covenant for a New America” on June 28, 2006, two years before Barack Obama’s election to the office of president, he gave a speech which has been characterized as his most poignant address regarding matters of faith, religion, and politics.
I would briefly like to highlight some of the important points articulated by former Senator Obama. First and foremost, the address discussed the connection between politics and religion and the arguments it creates in society. Specifically, Obama spoke to fellow Democrats and the secular left encouraging them to develop tolerance for people of faith and respect their inner beliefs.
Barack Obama begins by referencing his 2004 race for the U.S. senate and the debate he had with his opponent Alan Keyes.
“Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.”
Wait a minute! Who was Mr. Keyes and why would he make such a daunting attack on the young Senator from Illinois. Alan Keyes is an African American, Roman Catholic, Harvard graduate, and a Republican. Furthermore, Keyes is pro-life and made this comment towards Mr. Obama who is pro-choice. Although this comment is a harsh attack, it does target an important ethical matter which is a major concern for most Christians and politicians.
Barack Obama goes onto to say that “We first need to understand that Americans are a religious people. Ninety percent believe in God, 70% affiliate themselves with an organized religion, 38% call themselves committed Christians, and substantially more people believe in angels than do those who believe in evolution.”
Obama notes the importance of religion in today’s society by stating “This religious tendency is not simply the result of successful marketing by skilled preachers or the draw of popular mega- churches. In fact, it speaks to a hunger that’s deeper than that- a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause.”
To paraphrase, Obama describes his own religious nascence by him being raised in a religious household. His father, a Kenyan, was a Muslim as a young adult, but ended up as an atheist. His mom came from a non- practicing family of Baptists and Methodists. Obama claims that the climax of his religious identity was his work post- bachelors in Chicago where he was in a dilemma of choosing what type of faith path to follow. Obama felt a deep connection with the African American Church, one whose presence throughout America originated and nurtured through the Abolitionist movement and perpetuated during the Civil Rights Movement and currently, the largest denomination in the American south. The solution to Obama’s faith dilemma was finally resolved when he committed himself to Christ as he walked down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ. Obama recalls, “It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath the cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.” Obama’s Christian faith is lukewarm to say the least; Obama calls himself a Christian, but in many ways lives out his public life as an atheist or agnostic.
It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to figure out that Jesus was a man of social justice. Jesus Christ, taught the beatitudes, or (the attitudes of being as one priest once called it), he preached the Sermon on the Mount, taught his disciples to turn the other check, forgive more than 77 times, etc. In short, Jesus was concerned about helping others from the marginalized, the sick, the mute, the lost, etc. Jesus was concerned about everyone.
Obama briefly discussed the social issues which face our young people today and the issues which directly confront the right to life. “I think we should put more of our tax dollars into educating poor girls and boys, and give them the information about contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies, lower abortion rates, and help assure that every is child and cherished.” Obama is contradicting himself in this statement, because offering contraception for unwanted pregnancy and trying to lower abortion rates do not go hand in hand. Instead of offering contraception we should be cultivating the youth to respect one another, know that they are valuable in society, and be taught that all life is precious and equal. Every child is loved and cherished first by the author and creator of life, almighty God. God is the author of life. He writes the book and we are all characters in the various chapters of human history. The Bible says it like this , “Yet, O Lord , you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” Isaiah 64:8.
Furthermore, Obama notes that, “moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation, a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” Although this nation has changed in a myriad of ways, the basic Judeo- Christian principles which formed the minds of our founding fathers can never be diminished.