Pundits have been discussing Barack Obama’s sporadic attendance at church services in the nation’s capital city and his failure to settle on membership in a particular church. Seriously, though, do Obama’s religious views matter to anyone but him? Does it matter whether the President exhibits his religious faith publicly or attends church regularly? Should we care?
The Boston Globe carried a front page article a month or so ago that discussed the President’s religious views but Mr. Obama was immediately trashed by the usual knee-jerk anti-Obama hysterical critics for all manner of specious reasons. I concluded from the article that the President believes his faith is a private matter and that joining any particular church in Washington would be disruptive to that church and its members, a distraction from his agenda, divisive since he is president of all the people, and grounds for more attempts by the religious and political right to attack him. He has stated that he believes faith should be lived, that he should walk the walk, and not have to talk the talk in public.
I am quite used to seeing illiterate, hateful and nonsensical posts in my local paper [I live in very conservative Florida] but I was shocked at the comments made in the Globe because I had assumed that because Boston was a more cultured area that the tone of the posts would be more respectful and literate. Was I wrong! Some of the posters must have immediately consulted their Glen Beck handbook for hateful irrelevancies to assist them in their silly comments. Many of the comments were just excuses to trash the President and to repeat the same astonishing lies that have been debunked many times over and are not worth responding to.
It was obvious from the tone of the comments on that article that the President can never please the fear mongers and the haters and may just as well ignore them. It is not important to our national governance that he be seen as a religious leader. It is important that he be seen as leader of all the people and leader of the free world. It is important that he bring back respect for the U.S. and its traditional values—democracy, dignity and peace. It is important that he lives the values of Jesus – feeding the hungry (food stamps, unemployment benefits), sheltering the homeless (housing programs, mortgage relief, heating oil subsidy), clothing the naked (welfare benefits), standing with the poor against the powerful (voter registration, electoral reform, campaign reform, term limits).
Many who posted hateful comments showed that they do not have a clue what Christianity is all about. They need to be reminded regularly that it is not about what they say they believe, surely it is not about “being saved,” it is about the content of one’s life, of “walking the walk” in the vernacular of our times. We had enough of that false public religion from the fundamentalist “I talk to god” hypocrite George Bush, whose religious faith led him to start wars that were unnecessary, take away civil rights in the name of presumptive war powers, hide the cost of the war by putting it “off budget,” and put the economy into recession by letting the bankers and corporate chiefs run amuck in a perversion of free enterprise.
We conclude that it matters what Obama’s faith is, because it results in the sort of person he is and the values he holds. We conclude that it is important that he “walk the walk.” We conclude that he is wise to keep a low profile about his religion, because public display is simply another opportunity for the right wing “religious” radicals to attack him.
Thank god (for those of you who believe there is a god) for President Obama.