When Pastor Rick Warren asked Barack Obama about what he considered America’s greatest moral failure at the recent Saddleback “Civil Forum on the Presidency,” Senator Obama answered by saying, “its insufficient help to the disadvantaged.” Senator Obama then referenced the Bible and quoted Jesus’ admonition that, “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me,” commenting that this should apply to victims of poverty, sexism and racism.
I couldn’t believe my ears. I immediately thought of my sister Terri Schiavo who was the perfect example of a “disadvantaged” person in desperate need of our help. If Senator Obama truly took the words of Christ to heart, he would have been proud of his support for a law intended to prevent Terri’s intentional dehydration death that passed the United States Senate with unanimous consent in 2005.
However, with poll numbers subsequently showing public disquiet about the law he supported, Senator Obama redefined “disadvantaged” to exclude people like my sister. Indeed, during a debate with Senator Hillary Clinton during the Democratic contest to become his party’s presidential nominee, Obama stated that his greatest failure to date as a politician was not objecting to efforts by Congress to try and help Terri.
What hypocrisy. To so condescendingly make the claim that he stands for the disadvantaged by invoking the words of Christ, while at the same time completely abandoning an innocent and helpless disabled woman is not leadership. It is a dishonest and politically expedient attempt to say whatever he has to say in order to mislead people of faith into voting for him.
The question is: will anyone take what he said seriously? Senator Obama’s position should offend every one of us—particularly Christians who take the words of Christ seriously.
Due in large part to the misreporting of Terri’s situation and the confusion that still exists about her case, most people do not understand the consequences of what we, as a nation, permitted to happen to her. Even more disturbing is that so few seem to recognize what her death means for the tens of thousands of Americans who find themselves in similarly “disadvantaged” situations. They would prefer to just pretend it was the “right” thing to do or that it was what “she wanted,” or that “her husband” should have decided.
Sadly, politicians are not often known for their profiles in courage. Obama isn’t the only one who supported efforts to help Terri but have since qualified their positions on the matter of her life and death. Such a weak-kneed retreat from doing right compromises not only the legitimacy of their stand, but also the integrity of their offices.