Obama: Muslim Missionary? (Part 2)
Last week, the media, White House and nation were in a hullabaloo over a Pew Research Center poll that revealed that 1 in 5 Americans believes President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The poll received so much attention and response that the White House released a rebuttal reiterating that President
Obama is “a committed Christian.”
The fact is Americans are more baffled now by Obama’s personal religion than they were when he first came into office.
John Green, University of Akron politics professor and senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, concluded, “I haven’t seen any example — and I’ve been following polling of presidents for a long time now — of where we’ve seen increased confusion about religiosity the longer they’re in office.”
With all the confusion and quandaries about Obama’s religion lately, I rearranged the order of this four-part series to detail today exactly what President Obama believes, including his beliefs about prayer, heaven, the Bible and the person of Jesus, based upon a rare in-depth interview by a religious reporter for a major newspaper publication.
To me, this interview — which took place March 27, 2004, when Obama was a candidate for the US Senate — is by far the best documentation of Obama’s faith. In it, Obama gave often lengthy responses about his faith and practice to a series of questions from then- Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani, though he often seemed confused and even obtuse in his replies.
To the question “do you pray often?” Obama replied, “Uh, yeah, I guess I do.”
“Guess”? When asked whether he had read the Bible, Obama responded: “Absolutely. [But] these days I don’t have much time for reading or reflection, period…. I’ll be honest with you; I used to all the time, in a fairly disciplined way. But during the course of this campaign, I don’t.”
In answering reporter Falsani’s question about whether there was a role modelwho combined everything Obamasaid he wanted to do in his life andfaith, Obama’s fi rst response was, “Ithink Gandhi is a great example of aprofoundly spiritual man.”Gandhi? A Hindu? How aboutJesus, seeing as Obama claims to be a“committed Christian”?When Obama was asked pointedly,“Who’s Jesus to you?” he immediatelyresponded with a nervouslaugh, followed by a rather sarcastic“Right.” He proceeded, “Jesus is anhistorical fi gure for me, and he’s alsoa bridge between God and man, in theChristian faith, and one that I think ispowerful precisely because he servesas that means of us reaching somethinghigher. And he’s also a wonderfulteacher.”Could that “reaching somethinghigher” possibly be heaven?In answering the question onwhether he believed in a literalheaven, Obama retorted back: “Do Ibelieve in the harps and clouds andwings? … What I believe in is that ifI live my life as well as I can, that Iwill be rewarded. I don’t presume tohave knowledge of what happens afterI die.”Obama went on to explain his faithin these all-encompassing ways: “Iam a Christian…. On the other hand, Iwas born in Hawaii, where obviouslythere are a lot of Eastern infl uences. Ilived in Indonesia, the largest Muslimcountry in the world…. I believethat there are many paths to the sameplace…. I retain from my childhoodand my experiences growing up a suspicionof dogma…. I’m a big believerin tolerance…. I’m suspicious of toomuch certainty…. There’s an enormousamount of damage done aroundthe world in the name of religion andcertainty…. I fi nd it hard to believethat my God would consign four-fi fthsof the world to hell…. That’s just notpart of my religious makeup.”So it’s no wonder that when askedto describe the moment at which hewent forward in response to an altarcall in his and the Rev. JeremiahWright’s church in 1987 or 1988,Obama said, “I think it was just amoment to certify or publicly affi rm agrowing faith in me.”It is also no wonder that Americansare confused about Obama’s religion,because he himself sounds confusedabout it.Remember, this is the presidentwho emphatically stated to the MiddleEastern world that it is part of his“responsibility as president of theUnited States to fi ght against negativestereotypes of Islam wherever theyappear.”Yet on June 28, 2006, two yearsafter his interview with Falsani, then-Sen. Obama publicly perpetuatednegative stereotypes of Christianity.From the pulpit of a church, speakingto a live audience about religiousdiversity, Obama sarcastically belittledAmerica’s Judeo-Christian heritageand degraded its adherents with triteremarks typical of any atheistic antagonist:“Whatever we once were, weare no longer a Christian nation”; “thedangers of sectarianism are greaterthan ever”; “religion doesn’t allowfor compromise”; “the Sermon on theMount [is] a passage that is so radicalthat it’s doubtful that our own DefenseDepartment would survive its application”;and “to base our policymakingon such commitments [as moral absolutes]would be a dangerous thing.”And the whole time I considerObama’s anti-Christian diatribesand religious rubbish, I keep comingback to the words of PresidentGeorge Washington in his presidentialFarewell Address, advice our currentpresident would be wise, especiallynow, to heed: “Of all the dispositionsand habits which lead to politicalprosperity, religion and morality areindispensable supports. In vain wouldthat man claim the tribute of patriotism,who should labor to subvertthese great pillars of human happiness,these fi rmest props of the duties ofmen and citizens. The mere politician,equally with the pious man, ought torespect and to cherish them.”“A committed Christian”?I guess I completely don’t understandwhat the word “committed”means.