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Last week, the media, White House and nation were in a hullabaloo over a Pew Research Center poll which revealed that one in five Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim.
The poll received so much attention and response that the White House released a rebuttal reiterating that Obama is “a committed Christian.”
The fact is, Americans are more baffled now by Obama’s personal religion than they were when he first came into office.
John Green, University of Akron politics professor and senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, concluded, “I haven’t seen any example, and I’ve been following polling of presidents for a long time now, of where we’ve seen increased confusion about religiosity the longer they’re in office.”
Part of the confusion comes, for example, when Obama doesn’t make room to commemorate a National Day of Prayer with prominent Christian leaders or even spend time with the God-centered Boy Scouts of America at their national jamboree (as preceding presidents have), but he doesn’t miss hosting the Muslim Iftar Ramadan dinner at the White House or pass up the chance to fight for the rights of Muslims to construct an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero.
At times, Obama has given pointed responses about his faith in Christ. At other times, he comes across ambiguous and even clueless about his faith. Still, at other times, he is downright condescending about the Christian faith.
With all the confusion and quandaries about Obama’s religion lately, I rearranged the order of this four-part series to detail today exactly what Obama believes, including his beliefs about prayer, sin, heaven, the Bible and the person of Jesus, based upon a rare in-depth interview by a religious reporter of a major newspaper publication.
By far, the best documentation of Obama’s faith comes from this rare in-depth interview on March 27, 2004, when he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate. In it, Obama gave often lengthy responses about his faith and practice to a series of questions from then Chicago Sun Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani, though he often seems confused and even obtuse in his replies.
To the question do you pray often, Obama replied: “Uh, yeah, I guess I do.”
“Guess”? Not sure?
When asked if he has read the Bible, Obama responded: “Absolutely. [But] These days I don’t have much time for reading or reflection, period. … I’ll be honest with you, I used to all the time, in a fairly disciplined way. But during the course of this campaign, I don’t.”
In answering reporter Falsani’s question, “Is there an example of a role model who combines everything you said you want do in your life, and your faith?” Obama’s first response was, “I think Gandhi is a great example of a profoundly spiritual man.”
Gandhi? A Hindu? How about Jesus, since Obama claims to be a “committed Christian”?
Regarding sin, Obama defined it as: “Being out of alignment with my values.”
Mr. President, “your values,” or God’s values? Sin is transgression of God’s law – period.
And here is Barack Obama’s response when asked pointedly, “Who’s Jesus to you?” Immediately after the question, Obama laughed nervously. Then, after a rather sarcastic, “Right,” he proceeded, “Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.”
Could that “reaching something higher” possibly be heaven?
In answering the question on whether he believed in a literal heaven or not, Obama retorted: “Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings? … What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die.”
Obama went on in that same 2004 interview to explain his faith in these flip-flopping, relative, all-inclusive, New Age and even secular terms: “I am a Christian. … On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, … I believe that there are many paths to the same place, … I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others. … I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty. [T]here’s an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty. … I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. … That’s just not part of my religious makeup.”
No wonder that, when asked to describe the moment at which he went forward in response to an altar call in his and Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church in 1987 or 1988, Obama said: “I think it was just a moment to certify or publicly affirm a growing faith in me.”
“I think it was”? Not sure again?
No wonder Americans are confused about Obama’s religion, because he himself sounds confused about it.
Probably most revealing here are Obama’s words to reporter Falsani about his modus operandi: “Part of the reason I think it’s always difficult for public figures to talk about [their religious belief] is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is.”
If “being as vague as possible” is Obama’s political advice to himself and others, he sure hasn’t followed it with either his presidential commitment to pro-Islamic brawls or in his past anti-Christian rants. Remember, this is the president who gave this 2009 Cairo creed, emphatically stating to the Middle Eastern world that it was “part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
Yet, when it comes to Christianity, he has actually done just the opposite. Two years after his interview with Chicago Sun Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani, on June 28, 2006, then-Sen. Obama publicly perpetuated negative stereotypes of Christianity and defamed the religion and the words of its founder. From the pulpit of a church, speaking to a live audience about religious diversity, Obama sarcastically belittled America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and degraded its adherents with trite remarks typical of any atheistic antagonist, saying things like: “Whatever we were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” “The dangers of sectarianism are greater than ever,” “Religion doesn’t allow for compromise,” “The Sermon on the Mount [is] a passage that is so radical that our own defense department wouldn’t survive its application” and “To base our policy making upon such commitments [as moral absolutes] would be a dangerous thing.” (You must see the YouTube video: “Barack Obama on the importance of a secular government.”)
That diatribe is nothing short of a pure unadulterated rallying cry for antagonists of Christianity.
And gone but not forgotten is Obama’s religiously belittling statement on the campaign trail in April of 2008 about many residents in small-town America. You might recall, at a private California fundraiser, when he addressed the economic hardships of those in Pennsylvania, he criticized them by saying: “You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. … And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion … as a way to explain their frustrations.”
And to which “religion” was Obama negatively referring? Islam? Christianity, of course.
And the whole time I consider Obama’s anti-Christian diatribes and religious rubbish, I keep coming back to the words of President George Washington in his presidential Farewell Address, advice our current president would be wise especially now to heed: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.”
“A committed Christian”?
I guess I completely don’t understand what the word “committed” means.