June 28, 2007

Barak Obama's Revenge of Conscience

In his recent speech before the UCC convention, Barak Obama instigated a powerful, yet philosophically incoherent, attack on religious people whose concern for human dignity manifests itself in a way different from Obama and others on the left. It was a powerful argument because he focused his listeners on important issues that should matter to each of us – the environment, poverty, disease, etc….helping his listeners to conclude that prolife conservatives care very little about these issues and believe the only issue that matters is abortion and gay marriage. Perhaps “deceptive” best describes Obama’s speech.

From the start, his speech attempted to build a case against prolife conservatives for 2 primary reasons: 1) he would prefer we let him define which human dignity issues are worthy of our time and investment and 2) prolife conservatives tend not to be afraid of expressing their arguments for human dignity and the sanctity of human life within the framework of the Christian worldview. He believes religious language does not belong in the public square despite the fact that every person is driven by a particular worldview. Yet he calls for religious discourse. I don’t get it.

Obama’s bottom line is that we who identify ourselves as conservative are exploitive of what divides or separates us from those who happen to think its fine to destroy human life in the earliest of stages. By not abandoning our views on human dignity and the sanctity of all human life, we have somehow hijacked faith and religious discourse in the public square. It is all too clear that Barak Obama only believes in the dignity of some human beings – only those who have been fortunate enough to be born – and that by virtue of disagreeing with him, we have hijacked religion.

Obama had an opportunity to bring people together and promote a consistent life ethic. Instead, he chose to embrace and promote the caricature of conservatives, that supposedly we believe that the only issues worthy of our concern are those that relate to the unborn and the make-up of the family. Certainly it is true that no one person or organization can sufficiently speak to every issue facing America and the rest of the world, but we can be thankful for the different ministries God has given to each of us. Being a prolife conservative does mean I disagree passionately with pro-choice liberals (and if you must call that divisive, so be it), but that does not logically necessitate that I believe protecting the environment is unimportant – and I’m terribly frustrated that this needs to even be explained. On the flip side, however, do not be deceived. Obama’s embrace of a handful of evangelicals like Rick Warren does not mean he is abandoning his position on the issues he believes we are exploiting. His one-sided expectations illustrate that he is guilty of what he attributes to prolife conservatives. Speaking out against Obama’s politicizing of religion is a moral commitment because his exploitive tactics offend my conscience.

1 comment:

bloggernaut said...


Good analysis of Obama's speech. There seems to be no exhausting this fount of this type of criticism. If we allow liberal politicians to control the framework of what "religious discourse" is, then pro-life conservatives will have been bullied into a corner from which we cannot escape. This also does not bode well for discourse involving pro-life nonreligious people who may not even be politically conservative either, as they will be caught in the same net that is thrown over all who disagree with pro-abortionist viewpoints.

Clearly, left wing liberals are trying to have it both ways. They want to court the churchgoing (or synagogue or mosque-going) voter. They value religious thought, but only so far as it doesn't interfere with political thought. This is how Sen. John Kerry can publically endorse abortion practices while being "personally against abortion."

If Barack Obama thinks religious conservatives engage in shameless self promotion, then we should engage in it even more. He understands that the one who dominates the conversation wins in the court of public opinion. Liberal ideology is vulnerable in the face of disagreement, so they must attack loudly and frequently and engage in viewpoint discrimination if they are ever to get the public to vote for them. The solution is to flood public discourse with conservative viewpoints, to go on the offensive and be less defensive.

We must challenge the idea that religious language has no place in public discourse. How else shall we react in the face of such blanket discrimination? What if we substitute "women's issues" or "racial consideration" for "religious language?" In the interest of openmindedness, inclusivity, and a wholistic approach to the politics that affect American life, I'm a little surprised at Mr. Obama's position. Certainly, we must demand our piece of the pie, so to speak.

Lastly, we must beat them to the punch line and resist caricatures made by people like Barack Obama. This is similar to my first strategy above of increasing the volume of conservative viewpoints, but add to it the controlling of the conservative image. Most of the time, liberals skew the religious conservative motivation, and we find ourselves at their mercy in debates to defend not only our viewpoints but somehow also our moral fiber as well. I consider this to be unnecessary distraction that can be better managed if we improve proactive publicity and language to head off such skewing.

Of course, the liberal media bias provides an uneven playing field. I am confident that this can be overcome through consistent application of good public strategy, use of the internet, and increasing our influence in academia. I should also mention that influence in the softer areas of some traditional Democratic voting block can also be persuaded to reconsider their support of pro-abortion candidates (e.g. union workers, eastern european and asian immigrants, and college age women, who have shown decreased support for abortion in recent years).

If we only stand up strongly for ourselves, I can see that the court of public opinion should come increasingly to our defense. At the very least, words like those of Mr. Obama's will elicit more offense for his intolerance, and that would be an ironic step in the right direction, just as I like it!