This Time the Religious Right is Right

Sandy Rios

6/26/2008 1:56:21 PM - Sandy Rios

“For Obama, faith is not simply political garb, something a focus group told him he ought to try. Instead, religion to him is transforming, lifelong, and real.” That’s a quote from “The Faith of Barack Obama,” published by Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher, scheduled to be released in early August by author Stephen Mansfield, an evangelical Christian biographer of New York Times bestseller, “The Faith of George Bush.”

Highly respected Catholic professor at Pepperdine School of Law, Douglas Kmiec is also effusive in his support of Obama: “Obama said he earnestly wants to ‘discourage’ the practice (of abortion) despite the distortions of some who think if they affix the ‘pro-abortion-won’t overturn-Roe-label’ to the senator, pro-lifers like myself won’t give him the time of day. Sorry, good friends, not this year,” he wrote in the Chicago Tribune.

Kmiec was reporting on a recent meeting with Obama that included Franklin Graham, Bishop T.D. Jakes and about 30 other religious leaders. Late in 2006, Obama had stood on the stage of Rick Warren’s influential Saddleback Church, declaring his faith in the context of fighting HIV/AIDS, gladly taking on the mantle of implied endorsement.

Soon the Obama campaign will begin appearing on Christian radio and Internet outlets, and they’ll be hosting thousands of “American Values House Parties,” where attendees will discuss Obama and religion.

Yes, indeed. The Barack Obama campaign has a wonderful plan for your life … especially if you are an evangelical. And he has plenty of help to expedite the plan.

But one stubborn evangelical is calling out the charade: Dr. James Dobson, respected founder of Focus on the Family and unquestionably the current leader of the “Religious Right.” “I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,” Dobson declared on a recent broadcast.

So, who’s right? Is Barack Obama deliberately distorting the Bible and Christian theology as a means to a political end or is he in fact, a man of great faith?

Stephen Mansfield wrote, “Young evangelicals are saying, ‘Look, I’m pro-life but I’m looking at a guy who’s first of all black’—and they love that; two, who’s a Christian; and three, who believes faith should bear on public policy.”

But at a 2006 “Call to Renewal” conference, Barack himself said, “If God’s spoken, then His followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts regardless of the consequences. To base one’s own life on such uncompromising commitment may be sublime, but to base our policymaking on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.” Translated: First, faith should not bear on public policy. Secondly, Barack Obama will not be seeking what he calls “sublime.”

Kmiec insists Obama, “earnestly wants to ‘discourage’ the practice” of abortion.” Then how come Obama has a 100 percent voting record supporting it?—has opposed any and all restrictions on it?—and has NARAL and Planned Parenthood fairly salivating at the thought of his election?

Dobson, on the other hand, claims Obama distorts scripture. In a recent policy speech, Obama boasted that he drew his willingness to champion the homosexual agenda from the Sermon on the Mount, not on some passage in the “obscure” book of Romans. I wonder if he noticed that part of Jesus’ sermon that said to look at a woman with lust was the same as committing adultery. Did he glean from that passage that to look on another man would somehow be okay? When he mocked the relevance of passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I wondered if he’d read the passage in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (which includes Leviticus and Deuteronomy). I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17).

At the 2006 conference, he also chided his audience, “Let’s read our Bibles now. Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles.” He surely didn’t have himself in mind, did he? His devotion to scripture must mean he knew about that “obscure” book of Romans—that formative epistle written to the early persecuted church in Rome that transformed Martin Luther and catalyzed the Protestant Reformation and has been the bedrock of orthodox Christian theology for centuries. That obscure book? The one that warns, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness….”—and goes on to speak very directly on sexual morality: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another…. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Romans 1: 18, 24, 26-27).

This passage would probably be Exhibit A of why Obama thinks to base policymaking on such “uncompromising commitments” would be “a dangerous thing.” How would one face homosexual activists with such unflinching certainty?

“For Obama, faith is not simply political garb, something a focus group told him he ought to try. Instead, religion to him is transforming, lifelong, and real,” declared Mansfield. The exception, apparently, is when that faith interferes with the reigning public policy orthodoxy on abortion and homosexual rights.

There are other moral reasons to support Obama, argues Douglas Kmiec. Feeding the poor is one of them. “He intends to ask government and non-governmental entities—and you and me—to do our part.” But what Professor Kmiec may not know is that Obama really hasn’t been doing his part. According to Obama’s released tax returns, from 2001-2004 he gave less than one percent of his income to charity.

“He’s dragging biblical understanding through the gutter,” Dobson declared passionately. And he’s right.

With great bravado and eloquent phrasing, Obama twists and turns every phrase so effectively that while championing a radical moral agenda, he feigns strong Christian faith. While boasting concern for the poor, with his own wealth he looks the other way.

A man of deep Christian faith? Not by the definition of the Jesus he claims to serve and the Bible he quotes so frequently.

Thank God for Dr. Dobson’s boldness on this one. This time the “Religious Right” is right!