There has been some controversy recently regarding the religion of Barack Obama. While many “religious voters” helped to get him elected in 2008, many of those same people are increasingly discontent with his decisions in office. The recent pieces of Obamacare that have forced many religious people into decisions that violate their consciouses has, no doubt, contributed to this rising disapproval.
The issue is important. There are many today who think that the religious views of the President are irrelevant. I wrote about this not long ago in response to an article dealing with the same question with Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. I think the idea should be utterly rejected. All the ideas our President holds are important, not just the “political” ones or the “secular” ones. Are a mechanics thoughts, opinions, or feelings about cooking irrelevant just because he works on cars and not food? Would your idea of this mechanic change if he told you he liked to eat people? Would you still want him working on your car?
Besides, all of life is organically connected and it will always be that way despite our passionate attempts to compartmentalize everything. Our President’s decisions about policy are inevitably influenced by his views on God, human nature, good and evil.
Various public figures have recently brought the matter up on television. Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, recently commented on Obama’s faith on MSNBC. His willingness to acknowledge Obama as a Christian seemed lacking. Santorum too recently made comments about the President’s faith that stirred a bunch of press. You can read about that here, here, or here. Or here’s a quick video clip that summarizes some of the stir. Or, if you don’t want the media’s take on it, just listen to the recent Tea Party Speech in which he touches on it some.
Well, there are plenty of people who are willing to register their thoughts on the President’s religious beliefs, but what does he say?
The President has on occassion brought up his faith in connection with his policy decisions. He recently did this at a “Prayer breakfast” where he justified his higher taxation of the rich in accordance with Jesus’ teaching that “to whom much is given much is required” (Luke 12:48). Whether the context of the passage warrants such an interpretation seems unlikely. Forcing generosity through higher taxes is likely not something Jesus would have labaled “giving”. Interestingly, however, is the fact that Obama himself is the least giving President in American history (less than 1% as recorded by his recently released tax returns).
Cathleen Falasani with Sojourners interviewed the President about his faith in 2004, and recently re-posted it because of the “evergreen” interest in the issue. Read the interview here.
Denny Burk summarizes the interview here on his blog. He concludes that President Obama is a “theological liberal.” His final words in the article declare:
“I do not believe that President Obama is a Muslim. Those who suggest otherwise are not being very serious in my view. He has given every indication over the years that he is a liberal Christian, which is to say that he denies many essential doctrines of the Christian faith and embraces other ideas that are incompatible with the Christianity of the Bible.”