March 3, 2008

Obama's Public Religion: Part 2

On February 24th, I posted a review of Obama's Audacity of Hope. In the book, he writes,
I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union…nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount. (p. 222)
So I was quite surprised to see the shock in the news about Obama saying just this in a Q & A session with voters in Nelsonville, Ohio. According to the Baptist Press, a local pastor asked Obama how he plans to win over evangelical voters when they disagree with him on moral issues. Obama's response?
"I believe in civil unions that allow a same-sex couple to visit each other in a hospital or transfer property to each other...I don't think it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans. That's my view. But we can have a respectful disagreement on that." HT: Baptist Press
It's apparent that if Obama is nothing else, at least he's consistent. But his response never answered the question of the local pastor for he has no intention of winning over evangelical voters any more than he plans to cross party lines to place nice with conservatives.

What is quite interesting about this exchange with the pastor is that Obama seems unable to separate his politics from his religious beliefs, the basis for his view of civil unions is articulated in a purely Christian terminology. It is unfair for him to answer clergy in a way that he would not permit clergy to answer for themselves in the public square.


Collin Brendemuehl said...

I'm more frightened by his willingness to re-interpret scripture in a manner suited to his public policy. That OUGHT to frighten the so-called "separation" community.


Jos76 said...

Most Fundamentalists are completely unaware of the historical context of the bible. They are just told what to believe, mostly by people who prey on them and have no theological training. Every theologian agrees on the importance of reading and understanding the Bible in its historical and cultural context. When considered in this way, the life of Jesus and everyone in the old testament is unimaginable in modern times, though the teaching of Jesus are beneficial when understood in our time in history. I am a convinced Christian and I don't agree (call me conservative) with all of the fundamentalists that promote murder, polygamy, torture, incest, and idol worship. If you want to be a Fundamentalist and disregard the historicity of the Bible, then you agree with all that is in it and thus know that many sanctioned people of God in the Old Testament had several wives, had sex with their children, and killed their relatives (the poor kids that did not obey their parents). Oh wait, they probably don't agree with that. It is convenient to use the historical argument for that, but not for the issue of homosexuality. Please worship God and follow Jesus out of love and devotion, rather than what is convenient for you.