Thursday, May 13, 2010

The President's Faith

Our President continues to have problems convincing people he is first of all, an American, and second of all, a Christian. I hear it all the time - do you know Obama is a Muslim? No, I did not know that. How come so many people, so many Christians apparently believe that. They believed Ronald Reagan was a Christian when he said it, even if most evangelicals had to overlook, and forgive, his divorce. They believed George Bush the seconds testimony of conversion and rescue from over drinking. They trusted his father's confession of a private Episcopalian faith. But, Obama who professes to be a Christian is not believed. Perhaps it was his pastor when he lived in Chicago. We heard about his sermons and were asked to consider how any Christian could sit through them. Well, do we believe every person in church always believes everything his or her pastor says, never says to herself, I don't agree with that! I hope we don't believe that a pastor speaks for all his or her church members. I hope we go to church for more than just what the pastor says. Maybe it is his family background. Obama's father was Muslim but now is an atheist. His mother was agnostic and his stepfather an unorthodox Muslim. Like many Christians he has a diverse religious background. Should we hold that against him or trust in God's grace working in his life, as well as ours. Perhaps it is his tepid support of a national day of prayer but he is not the first president to do so. Or, maybe it is his willingness to embrace all faiths as president of a pluralistic society. He attended both a Jewish Passover celebration this Easter season and a Ramadan dinner last fall. Yet, he spoke articulately and passionately about his faith at a post Easter breakfast with church leaders at the White House. At that breakfast he said: "As Christians we believe that redemption can be delivered by faith in Jesus Christ. And the possibility of redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character, make whole the incompleteness of a soul." On Easter Sunday the President and family attended services at an African Methodist Episcopal church in one of Washington's poorest and most violent neighborhoods.

One of his pastoral supporters, Kirbyjon Caldwell from Houston, has said: "Never in modern history has a president said I am a Christian and others said, No, you are not." "It is stupid and an insult to him", Caldwell said.

In a recent Harris poll 57% of those who called themselves Republicans also claimed Obama was a Muslim and 45% said he was not born in America.