"I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life."So said Barak Obama this week in an interview with Christianity Today.
Why does this statement matter? Is Barak Obama trying to make people aware of his faith because so many think he's a Muslim, or make himself more appealing to some based on his religious beliefs? Is he trying to illuminate his life or is he trying to insinuate himself into the Christian Evangelical community? Does it matter either way?
The New York Times political blog wrote about Obama’s Christian Campaign today, and it sounded a lot like Mike Huckabee’s campaign – appealing to Christian voters by appealing to their doctrine, in their houses of worship, rather than just their issues. Like Mike Huckabee’s TV ad in December citing him as a "Christian Leader", Obama has a pamphlet with "Committed Christian" in large font.
What does this say to the Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and other minority faiths, about Obama as a candidate and as a leader? What comes out of that approach? What gets reinforced?
From the Times story:
"Christianity is the basis of all human beings," said Lanette Battle, a manicurist who came to Wednesday night’s event in Dillon wearing a large beaded cross alongside a "Hot Chicks Love Obama" button.Perhaps Lanette was misquoted. Perhaps what she meant to say was, "The basic tenets of Christianity; that is, love, compassion, forgiveness, and charity, are essential human characteristics, essential to positive human relationships, essential to peace and harmony and progressive culture."
But that’s not the message that came out.
Looking at his candidacy objectively, Obama has a rich platform of ideas and initiatives (that you may or may not agree with...). He has positions and passion. So why would a candidate engage in what appears to be identity politics, a path that inevitably leads to division and disdain? What drives this behavior? As I read Obama's Call To Renewal speech, I don't perceive any of this identity politics, but rather a rejection of it. I don't think that's what Obama is about.
And yet, again from the Times story:
Brittnay Davis, a former air force pilot trying to decide between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, seemed annoyed at the overtly religious appeals. "This is not good," she said, gesturing at a leaflet depicting Mr. Obama staring soulfully from a pulpit, a large cross and a stained-glass window behind him. "I want to know something other than that."Honestly, so do I.