The Faithful Clarity of a Moral President

Erick Erickson
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Posted: Feb 06, 2015 7:36 PM
The Faithful Clarity of a Moral President

Last week, President Barack Obama chose to equate Christianity and Islam. In doing so, he suggested people needed to get off their "high horse" because many things had been done in the name of Christianity. He listed slavery and the crusades to name two.

I would feel better about listening to the honest exegesis of the American resident on matters of faith if I were convinced he had faith in anything other than himself. He sat in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years. But Rev. Wright is a preacher of black liberation theology, far removed from mainstream Christian discourse. Since then, the president has eschewed any regular faith practices.

Having mocked Christians in 2008 as bitterly clinging to guns and religion, no one should be surprised he got his history wrong. What is more troubling, however, is how he got his history wrong. The Crusades, that he blamed on Christians, were actually a response to the Islamic invasion of the Holy Land and brutal persecutions of Christians.

Neither slavery nor Jim Crow laws would have been ended but for the voices of Christians. Famously, William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament, dedicated his life to ending slavery. Wilberforce had considered withdrawing from Parliament because of his devout faith, but his friend Prime Minister William Pitt persuaded him otherwise. Pitt wrote to Wilberforce, "If a Christian may act in the several relations of life, must he seclude himself from them all to become so? Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple, and lead not only to meditation but to action."

Wilberforce's faith and effort gave rise to other Christians whose moral effort liberated slaves. In the era of Jim Crow, it was Christians, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave moral voice again to the eradication of Jim Crow.

The most troubling aspect of the moral equivalence President Obama tried to draw in his speech last Thursday was that Christians cannot look at the disturbance in the Middle East and make valued judgments based on the faith of the Islamic radicals.

Having grown up in Dubai between the ages of 5 and 15, I have many Muslim friends, all of whom look on ISIS with distain. But none of them claim ISIS is not practicing Islam. It is just a variant of Islam. Unfortunately, it is a rapidly growing part of Islam. Islam itself means "submission," and our president goes to great lengths to avoid pointing that out.

The worst thing about President Obama's statement, however, is the moral equivalence. It keeps him and those like him from seeing what confronts us even as they refuse to confront it. Television networks were aghast at Fox News's decision to show video of ISIS burning alive the Jordanian pilot. The other networks claimed this was a public relations victory for ISIS in that it wanted everyone to see what it was capable of.

But these are the same networks that were too scared to show the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Only Fox News would show those cartoons. The networks claimed they did not want to offend anyone, but they are perfectly happy to show images offensive to Christians. There is a double standard at play subsidizing evil.

The president and intellectual leaders in the United States are not people of faith. They reject deity, having constructed gods of their own from government or self-interest. Morals are passe, faith is mythology and everybody is ultimately the same. These people cannot give moral clarity to the causes of the day because it would require them to take a moral stand, which they are not capable of doing.

When in the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama was the only senator to speak in opposition to legislation that would require life-saving treatment for a child born alive after an abortion. Our president took the position that a child, born alive, could still be killed. He is, perhaps, the last person we should let lecture any of us about faith, considering the only faith he seems to possess is in himself.