To commemorate President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office, U.S. News & World Report documented what it considers to be the "10 Most Important Obama Faith Moments."
Without defining what "most important" and "faith moment" mean, the magazine clearly showed the thesis and thrust of the article with this sentence: "Barack Obama has embraced faith in a more visible way than any other president in recent memory."
Given that statement, the top 10 list must contain rock-solid faith-stimulating actions by Obama, right? You decide. Here is the list and my thoughts on each item:
"1. Rick Warren's Inauguration Day Invocation." I'll grant Obama and U.S. News & World Report that this was a significant "faith moment," though maybe (as I discussed in a previous column) it wasn't significant for all the right reasons.
"2. Granting First TV Interview to Arabic Language Network." I would call this more of a "diplomatic moment" than a "faith moment" despite the fact that the majority of the Arab world is Muslim.
"3. Reversing Mexico City Policy on Family Planning Providers Abroad." Since when is subsidizing other nations with federal funds to provide more abortions a "faith moment"?
"4. Opening Rallies With Prayer." To describe six simple invocations as "a big step further in embracing religion" in comparison with George W. Bush's practice of starting Cabinet meetings with prayer and encouraging Bible study groups at the White House reveals the author's clear political bent.
"5. Launching White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships." Could the advances of this "faith moment" suffer a horrendous reversal when Obama's administration finally deals with its postponement of the issue of whether to demand these federally funded groups hire leaders from outside their faith traditions?
"6. Convening a Faith Advisory Council." While this council has external appeal, it represents little more than another bureaucratic piece of red tape and another way the long arm of government is weaving into the fabrics of our religious practices.
"7. Joe Biden's Receiving Ashes on Ash Wednesday." With all respect to Biden, to think that the vice president's participation in Lenten church services should be classified as a faith moment of Barack Obama's borders on comical.
"8. Lifting Restrictions on Federally-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research." Like No. 3 -- on expanding international abortions -- to include the lifting of restrictions for federally funded embryonic stem cell research in this list is ludicrous.
"9. Announcing Plans to Give Notre Dame's Commencement Address." I would agree with this if Obama had said he would speak at the baccalaureate Mass, but he's giving the commencement address.
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