Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama's Ideal

I direct your attention to remarks made by Barelyblack Obama about a year ago, in which he discussed America’s religious status:

"Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," Obama said during a June 2007 speech available on YouTube.

This is silly and misleading, because no one has ever argued that we are “just” a Christian nation. Historians recognize that Jews, atheists, and agnostics were present virtually from the beginning.

He’s also making light of the fact that Christianity played a greater role in this nation’s formation than any other philosophical or religious outlook.

"Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us," he said.

More nonsense. Inherent within religious belief is its divisiveness. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Bushism all are forces that create enmity or schism. Go back as far as you can in recorded history; you’ll find people divided along religious lines—even falling into numerous sects within the same religion. The latter is called denominationalism. Religion can unite people—as exemplified in Christian brethren gathering together in pursuit of missions, witnessing, or other church-oriented goals--but it doesn’t necessarily bring peace and harmony to warring views. The implication, here, is that religion typically unites the divided, and current factionalism is an historical aberration. Notice also the connotation that the “Christian Right” is not just wrongheaded, but evil.

Asked last year to clarify his remarks, Obama repeated them to the Christian Broadcast Network:

"I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism. Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," Obama wrote in an e-mail to CBN News senior national correspondent David Brody.

"We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community," wrote Obama.

I think he’s using “sectarianism” in its traditional definition: (noun) sectarian spirit or tendencies; excessive devotion to a particular sect, esp. in religion.

So is this a plea for universalism? Obama’s past remarks insinuate that the answer is yes; he’s on record suggesting that there are many pathways to Heaven.

This is more devaluing of Christianity’s influence on America’s founding. He approaches each religion as equivalent in prominence, import, and popular devotion. He ignores the reality that a Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu nation would not be the United States of America. Let me summarize in one word the effect this trio of religions had upon America’s construction:


How do we “translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens,” when our multicultural populace holds values that conflict with and contradict each other? That’s quite an undertaking.

By the way, it’s worth noting that most of America’s religious dilution (or “diversity,” if you prefer) emanates from unrestricted immigration, with a heavy emphasis on migrants from the third world. Also related are the constant belittlement of Christianity, and the general downplaying of our American heritage. Forget history; we need “social studies.”

"My intention was to contrast the heated partisan rhetoric of a distinct minority of Christian leaders with the vast majority of Evangelical Christians – conservatives included – who believe that hate has no place in our politics.

So Christian Right=hate. Got it. I wonder why it is that partisan rhetoric is wrong only when it comes from Christians on the right side (pun intended) of the political spectrum?

"When you have pastors and television pundits who appear to explicitly coordinate with one political party; when you're implying that your fellow Americans are traitors, terrorist sympathizers or akin to the devil himself; then I think you're attempting to hijack the faith of those who follow you for your own personal or political ends," wrote Obama.

As if Obama’s remarks on religion don’t represent his “own personal or political ends.” Sure. And why is it wrong for a pastor to “coordinate with one political party?” Isn’t that what nearly all voters and politicians do? In point of fact, some Americans are “traitors, terrorist sympathizers, or kin to the devil” herself—Hillary Clinton. I suppose he believes that such people don’t exist—you know, much like U.S. history of the past 200-plus years.

No comments: