Obama’s Attack

Posted: Aug 30, 2007 12:01 AM
Obama’s Attack

In light of recent polls, pundits have speculated that Sen. Barack Obama will need a miracle to win his party’s presidential nomination. After offending many of the nation’s ministers, priests and rabbis in a speech this summer, he’d better have a direct line to the Almighty.

Mr. Obama accused conservative Christian leaders of “hijacking” religion several weeks ago. While seeking to impose his own secular agenda through houses of worship, the senator condemns any pastor or priest who disagrees with it.

Speaking to one of the nation’s most liberal protestant denominations, the United Church of Christ, Mr. Obama said, “Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us.”

It is cynical for him to say that conservative clergy of the evangelical community are “exploiting” their faith or their people. One should never say that those preaching in the pulpits of Christian churches were exploiting — or worse, hijacking — religion. I presume in charity that those who have dedicated their lives to preaching and ministry act out of honest motives, even if I disagree with their interpretation of our theology.

Yet Mr. Obama somehow knows the hearts and minds of evangelical leaders, and gives them extraordinary hostile labels such as hijacker and exploiter.

The senator went on to say that, “faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart,” and that evangelical leaders are to blame.

Evangelical leaders challenge the moral issues in our society. Those are so often issues because of the specific teachings of Christianity. For example, Evangelicals teach the value of innocent human life and the sanctity of marriage, so they oppose abortion and same sex marriage.

A challenge is inherently divisive. There is no such thing as a challenge that does not divide. But it is division with a purpose. Evangelicals see part of a Christian’s duty to be “salt and light” in society. In doing so evangelicals cause division, but it’s intended for the service and well-being of others as well as their duty to God.

Yet Mr. Obama will have none of that, and his comments are outrageous and ironically divisive.

Mr. Obama’s notion that the only permissible role for Christian churches and leaders is to bring society “together” is naïve, and his attempt to dictate to churches what role they may play in American society is alarming. Why must evangelicals abandon their beliefs to agree with him? Isn’t he being divisive by refusing to support their beliefs? That would bring us all together, after all. What gives Mr. Obama the right to say that any religious leader who does not share his liberal social priorities has “hijacked” the Christian faith?

He says, “I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.” Yet his views on a whole range of social issues are incompatible with traditional Christian doctrine adhered to by millions of persons today. Evidently, every ordained Christian minister must submit to a liberal interpretation of the Bible to avoid being labeled an exploiting hijacker of religion.

As a former elected official, I attended churches where social issues — both conservative and liberal — are often given a place of prominence. But, mindful of my public office, I did not claim that those who did not support my policy preferences were exploiting others.

This is all the more serious when one seeks to ascend to the presidency. Pastors, priests, and leaders of all faiths should be concerned about a president who arrogates to himself the power to condemn their teachings as exploitation, and claims the right to define the “proper” role of religion in society.

Mr. Obama seeks to displace ordained clergy advancing their faith, while substituting his own liberal agenda in houses of worship. While he denounces evangelical leaders for sharing clear biblical instruction on sexuality, family, life and other social issues, he cites biblical support for government-run health care and higher taxes.

It is rank hypocrisy to say that your political agenda is blessed by the Bible, and therefore implicitly by God, but ordained clergy and the faithful who cite the Bible for what they teach are hijacking faith for partisan advantage.

Evangelical Christians should make no apologies for mobilizing voters in accordance with their faith. I have spoken in evangelical churches about issues such as marriage and faith. These are the priorities set forth by the pastors and ministers leading those churches, in conformity with the teaching of those churches.

Mr. Obama decries both those teachings and the lifelong ministers who proclaim them to their flocks, and instead says that the one, true faith is in support of his political agenda.