Green Room

Faith of Our Presidents

posted at 9:53 pm on August 19, 2010 by

Remember when a Christian president was a bad thing?

When George W. Bush was president, journalists and the left had two templates for Bush-faith stories. The first cast his faith in a dark light, with suspicion and conspiratorial thinking. Bush’s faith, they said, clouded his thinking on vital issues, and his judgment was called into question. The ultimate message of this template was simple: can we really trust a guy who believes that he’s doing God’s will?

”Just in the past few months,” Bartlett said, ”I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.” Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ”This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .

”This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,” Bartlett went on to say. ”He truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.” Bartlett paused, then said, ”But you can’t run the world on faith.”

The horror…a president who believed in a higher authority and actually looked to his faith for…guidance. In retrospect, it’s pretty amazing that the republic actually survived under the rule of such a despotic, Christianist ruler, isn’t it?

The second template was almost exactly the opposite. Reporters and the people they quoted were asking themselves a different question…can the warmongering George W. Bush really be a Christian?

“That a deep Christian faith illuminated the personal journey of George W. Bush is common knowledge,” Suskind wrote. In other words, the devil, as it were, is lurking among the articles of faith, but not in the heart of the man.

This is a huge mistake, because when judged by his deeds, an entirely different picture emerges: Bush does not demonstrate a life of faith by his actions, and neither Methodists, evangelicals, nor fundamentalists can rightly call him brother. In fact, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether Bush is really a Christian at all.

This article was written in October of 2004, just before the election. In what is most certainly just a crazy random happenstance, writers at the Washington Post were asking themselves the same questions just a month earlier.

Weird, huh?

But despite the centrality of Bush’s faith to his presidency, he has revealed only the barest outline of his beliefs, leaving others to sift through the clues and make assumptions about where he stands.

Bush has said many times that he is a Christian, believes in the power of prayer and considers himself a “lowly sinner.” But White House aides said they do not know whether the president believes that: the Bible is without error; the theory of evolution is true; homosexuality is a sinful choice; only Christians will go to heaven; support for Israel is a biblical imperative; or the war in Iraq is part of God’s plan.

Well isn’t that interesting? When Bush declared his Christianity, the press felt a need to delve into his faith and explore the nuances of his belief. Was Bush a moderate Christian, or was he really just one of those crazy wingnut believers who use words like sin and redemption and stuff? Heck, those people are practically snake-handlers, right? But the real question was whether he was a real Christian at all.

So many questions to be explored. And explore them, the press did.

Then, I mean.

I have no idea what Barack Obama believes about God, and I really don’t care. Who he prays to is less important to me than the fact that he’s expanding government power and turning the United States into a debtocracy. The deficits his administration have created threaten not just my economic well-being, but that of my children and quite possibly their children. To me, Obama’s policies are more important than his faith.

The media seem to feel differently. When a poll showed that a growing number of Americans are starting to wonder if Obama is a Muslim, the press swung into full White House Protection Mode. Take it away, Bill Burton!

As Obama left for a vacation, Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One that most Americans care more about the economy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and “they are not reading a lot of news about what religion the president is.”

Burton added, “The president is obviously a Christian. He prays every day.”

With this, the media breathes a sigh of relief. The White House says the president is a Christian, so he’s obviously a Christian. End of story. No reason to examine this question further, so let’s move on, okay?

I believe that only God truly knows the heart of a human being so the determination of who is a Christian and who is not is ultimately up to Him. Based on what he’s said on the campaign trail and as president, I think Barack Obama is a Christian of the social justice variety. I disagree with the more forced egalitarian aspects of that interpretation of Christianity, but recognize that as a Christian, I have a responsibility to recognize the dignity of every human being and help those in need. Where Obama and I likely differ is that I believe the decision to help others should be voluntary and borne of my desire to serve God. Based on what he’s said in the past, Obama seems to believe it should be a governmental decision. It is an interesting debate and one I would honestly welcome from the president.

So if anyone from the White House is reading this, I am totally willing to have a beer summit. In the interests of unity, of course. If you provide the Newcastle, I’m there.

The media doesn’t seem as interested in that debate, since they’re perfectly willing to declare Barack Obama the most Christian president in recent history on the most scant of evidence:

*** The irony here: The big irony of this story: President Obama is more religious than Reagan or H.W. Bush ever was; in fact, he gets Bible verses sent to his blackberry EVERY DAY. FYI, the Pew poll was conducted before the president weighed in on the mosque controversy. One does wonder if it would have helped push back against this nutty narrative had the president picked a church, as he said he would during the campaign, or if he regularly attended church.

Dude.

The president gets Bible verses on his Blackberry. EVERY DAY. Reading this, you’ve got to wonder. Does Pope Benedict have a Blackberry? I think not. So if he doesn’t have a Blackberry, he can’t receive daily Bible verses. If he can’t receive daily Bible verses…is he as devout as Obama?

As I’ve said, I don’t really care what Obama believes. What bothers me is that the press only seems to think a president’s religion is important when his faith can be used to question his policy priorities. If those priorities go against the views of those in the media, then Christianity is a scary fringe faith that needs examining. If the president is progressive, then his faith is pure and he’s only trying to do what’s best for the country. No reason to ask uncomfortable questions.

If Obama says he’s a Christian, that’s perfectly okay.

Just so long as he doesn’t become one of those ‘Christianists.’

Right?

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Imagine if Bush-friendly media had said the following:

“President Bush is more religious than Clinton or Carter ever was; in fact, he reads a Bible devotional EVERY DAY.”

Just imagine.

J.E. Dyer on August 19, 2010 at 10:23 PM

I see little evidence that Obama is a Christian. Is he forgiving of those who openly declare opposition to his political ideology? No, he attacks, demeans, and ridicules them. That’s not Christian behavior.

Is Obama a charitable person? I see no evidence of that. What I see is a tyrant who uses his power to buy loyalty. That’s not Christian.

Does Obama treat all people equally? No, he rewards his favorites with special treatment, and penalizes anyone who opposes his ideology. That’s not Christian.

Is Obama a humble man? Hah!

I see more evidence that Obama is a Marxist, than I see evidence of Christian behavior.

Skandia Recluse on August 19, 2010 at 10:45 PM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on August 20, 2010 at 3:17 AM

There are just too many instances of Obama doing and saying things no Christian would ever dream of doing or saying, but which would be normal utterences or behaviors for a Muslim. Supposedly he’s been a Christian for what – at least 15 years? – yet his public actions consistantly dispute such a notion.
He refused to speak in the presence of a cross; it had to be hidden beneath a cloth -

In a speech he sarcastically wondered hypothetically which religious lessons might be considered to be incorporated into governing, and very snarkily cited several Old Testament battle/brimstone verses. He was clearly amused by his ridicule of Jews’ and Christians’ holy book -

His wife does not travel with him when he’ll be in a Muslim country [Egypt, Turkey] -

He doesn’t refer to Iran as “Iran”; it’s always “the Islamic Republic of Iran” -

He doesn’t refer to the Koran as “the Koran”; it’s always “the Holy Koran” -

In his Cairo speech he said “I have KNOWN Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first REVEALED”; you can observe a religion – to “know” it, you must belong to it. And only a Muslim is going to describe Islam as having been “revealed”.

In the Cairo speech he also said, “…many Muslims recognize that Israel WILL NOT GO AWAY.” That terminology would be used only by someone of the hate-Israel mindset – not by a Christian. Loyalty to Israel is part of Christian life, and is non-negotiable. Genesis 12:3.

Still Cairo: “Americans are ready to join with citizens & governments, community orgs, religious leaders, & businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help OUR PEOPLE pursue a better life.” “Our people” – he’s including himself – can only mean Muslims, as most Americans already have the best life possible.

And he said, “The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” His audience was Muslims, so they knew “the rest of the story”, which is that this “all mankind” in the Koran refers to believing Muslims only. Jews and Christians are never referred to collectively with Muslims.

And, “…in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.” Those pesky rules on charitable giving are in place to prevent Muslims’ “charitable giving” moneys being used to fund terrorists. How unfair to Muslims!! Barry will fix it.

Cairo, again: “…Holy Land…a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.” Whoa! How come Barry the Christian is telling a story invented by the Muslims in an attempt to make out like Jesus and Mohammed were best buds? And how come Barry the Christian is saying “peace be upon them”? For Muslims, some things are reflexive – like saying “peace be upon…” whenever they utter the name of Mohammed. Ooopsie!

Most telling is the New York Times article from several years ago, where the interviewer reported that Barry had recited the Islamic call to prayer in a “near-perfect” accent. That would be in Arabic. And that would be something Barry supposedly hadn’t heard since he’d left Indonesia (appx) 25 years before. But, but, but…he TOLD us he was never a Muslim! And he told that Times reporter he considered the Muslim call to prayer one of the most beautiful sounds on earth.

I might be confused – except that it’s obvious he’s been a Muslim all his life. And that he’s a liar of the highest magnitude.

GGMac on August 19, 2010 at 11:56 PM