Don't tell me the moon is shining;
show me the glint of light on broken glass.
~Anton Chekhov

Thursday, January 10, 2008




There seems to be a litmus test among some voters. Not only does the candidate have to avow their Christian beliefs, they're beliefs have to fit the mold of the 'right kind' of Christian.

Commentary about Barack Obama's religious beliefs began popping up as soon as it appeared he was considering a run for the Oval office. Some critics liked to talk about the fact that his father was an atheist. Or that his mother didn't belong to an organized church.

Then we have the "Muslim" roots stories that pop up periodically, based primarily on one year of school he attended at a young age in Indonesia. The story has been investigated and disproved. See my post from January for further details.

The church's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., was an early proponent of black "liberation" when the movement took off at the lead of Dr. Martin Luther King. Obama began attending the church and was inspired by Wright's sermons.

In his first book, "Dreams From My Father" Obama says he felt:

"...a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters"
"felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent, incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our narrow dreams."

In another interview (UCC website 2006) Obama said that in his conversion experience:

I submitted myself to (God's) will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."

He said that he chose Trinity United Church of Christ because:

"I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world."

According to ABC News Website in a 2007 article, Obama was encouraging all candidates to discuss their faith.

Last year, Obama chastised fellow Democrats for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people," and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoers.

"Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation. Context matters," he said.

All this sounds like something all Christian fundamentalists would identify with and approve. Yet, it is never that simple.

Reverend Wright has friends and ideas that are not always 'approved' of by other Christians. He has beliefs that are questioned by certain fundamentalist. His church is "black' centric, and makes no attempt to back away from their African ethnic and cultural roots.

Christians, especially fundamentalists, often refer to the Bible to reinforce their statements. Yet, Jesus often incurred the wrath of the religious establishment. He said things they didn't approve of. He hung out with tax collectors and other folk not considered 'good' Jews. Most of all, he mentioned multiple times that conforming to certain religious standards and statements was not a part of his teaching. Instead, he said this:
Matthew 22: 35-37

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment."
"And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Clearly these are His priorities, yet it so often doesn't seem to be the priorities of his followers. He had another comment relevant to the topic:

Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Biblical quotes are from the New International Version of the Bible, New Testament.

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