Paul  Kengor

Most interesting is what Newsweek revealed about Obama and his current family: His wife, Michelle, “also didn’t go to church regularly as a child.” Neither really began regular attendance until they were married. And only then, their choice was Reverend Wright. On that, Newsweek reported approvingly: “The cross under which Obama went to Jesus was at the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ. It was a good fit.”

The couple, writes Newsweek, attended “fairly often—two or three times a month.” That changed, becoming less frequent, with the birth of their first child. Normally, the arrival of children is the blessed event that drags young couples to church—the Bushes, the Clintons. For the Obamas, however, the hassle of getting the baby out of the house for a packed service was an obstacle. “So,” explained Barack, “that would cut back our involvement.”

The Obama girls have never attended Sunday school—a definite contrast with most White House children. Even wayward president’s kids like Ron Reagan, a proud atheist, was taken to church every Sunday. Obama explains of his daughters’ religious education: “I’m a big believer in a faith that is not imposed but taps into what’s already there, their curiosity of spirit.”

Once Obama ran for the U.S. Senate, he skipped church for months at a time. Now that he publicly parted ways with Reverend Wright, reports Newsweek with a gentle wink, “Obama is a little spiritually rootless again.” Newsweek neglected to mention that Obama often appeared in churches in 2007 for strictly political purposes—i.e., to campaign in houses of worship, a practice that launches liberals into fits of screaming rage when done by Republicans.

On the plus side, there are some discernible spiritual practices in Obama’s life: family grace at mealtime, daily prayer, Obama “sometimes” reading the Bible in evenings, and inspirational emails zapped to the senator by his “religious outreach team.” Yet, even with that nod to something of a religious routine, one senses that Obama is still trying to reconcile, as Newsweek described his early life, “his rational side with his yearning for transcendence.”

After demonstrating at length that Obama’s belief system is an amalgam, unorthodox, and undisciplined, Newsweek wrapped up with a shot at his detractors: “Some on the right say his particular brand of Christianity is a modern amalgam—unorthodox, undisciplined….”

No, Newsweek, that’s what you say.

One can see here another reason the secular left embraces Obama: His entire religious life, including the spiritual development of his family, is relativistic—an ever-probing quest, a realization of no single truth. The left likes this Democrat more than, say, a lifelong Baptist like Bill Clinton, a lifelong Roman Catholic like John Kerry, a lifelong Methodist like Hillary Clinton, a “born-again” southerner like Jimmy Carter. Here’s a believer secular liberals can accept: a relativist in the most expansive form.

A President Obama would bring to the office the most unconventional religious portfolio of any president in a long time, arguably the history of the American presidency.

But to get there, the freshman senator hopes to win just enough of those moral-religious “values voters” who twice made the difference for George W. Bush. Can Barack Obama do that?