Sen. Barack Obama spoke Saturday to a national meeting of the United Church of Christ, of which he’s a member. Since the 1970s the UCC has adopted positions on socials issues that put it to the left of the average Christian, and of the average American.

Here’s a clip from Obama’s speech:

Partial transcript:

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a 30-minute speech before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.

“Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.

“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.

This is a very tired, and very liberal miscasting of history. The rise of the so-called Christian Right didn’t just happen in a vacuum. It happened mostly in response to specific issues, abortion chief among them. Traditional values were under assault from the left; Christians became politically active to counter the assault. It has not been the case that “leaders” of the “Christian right” have told their followers that Democrats disrespect conservative Christian beliefs and that conservative Christians have mindlessly followed whatever they say. Christian leaders have, to be sure, said what they think about the advance of various issues on the national scene, but no one had to tell me that Democrats disrespect traditional values when it’s been obvious that as a party from the top down that Democrats do disrespect traditional values. All I had to do to learn that was to pay attention.

Obama’s formulation actually furthers the notion that Democrats like him disrespect conservative Christians. Look how he treats us. We’re not brethren in Christ who happen to disagree with liberalism, we’re zombies. His formulation makes mindless drones of conservative Christians, and puts liberal Christians in the role of being the only ones who can and do think for themselves. It’s elitist and typical of the liberal worldview. Obama is saying, in essence, that if you disagree with his liberal views on abortion, gays and the rest, that you’re not honestly disagreeing with him and you haven’t come to your conclusions by any real soul-searching. You’re under the control of cynical people who want to “divide” America. He doesn’t even think you’re capable of thinking, let alone coming to a different conclusion from his that might be valid.

Gee, why on earth would anyone hearing that think that liberals and Democrats don’t respect conservative Christians?

Obama also uses the words “faith” and “hijacked” as instruments against conservative Christians that, as Ann Althouse says, seems out of place in post 9-11 America. Why hasn’t he said the same of people who actually do hijack things in the name of their faith? But I won’t dwell on that too much.

CBN’s David Brody takes a more positive view on Obama’s speech, and Brody’s view has some merit. It is refreshing to hear a national leader remind us that the greatest speeches in American history all reference Christian faith. It is refreshing to hear of a genuine conversion moment, though we also heard about George W. Bush’s conversion quite a bit back in 1999 and 2000. And it’s refreshing to hear a liberal Democrat talk at length about what his Christian faith means to him, and how he sees it helping others.

It’s just a pity that Obama had to use the occassion to smear fellow Christians who don’t share his and his church’s unorthodox views on social issues. If he’s really interested in learning who is using faith to divide America, he’d do well to take a look in the mirror.