Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sen. Obama, Evangelicals and the community of faith

It has been interesting to read about the response of some evangelicals to Sen. Obama being invited to speak at an AIDS conference sponsored by Pastor Rick Warren. Apparently due to the Senator's stand on abortion and some other issues some feel he should not be invited to speak.

How this helps Senator Obama.

The hardcore evangelicals who use issues like abortion as a litmus test were never going to be Sen. Obama supporters anyway.

However a larger set of American Christians I think will respond positively because I suspect that to some extent they have started to grow tired of the role of faith in public life being reduced to stands on a select number of social issues.

I really feel this is going to be the key for Democrats in reaching out to evangelicals and Christians in general, using faith to explain why people and by extension their governments have a responsibility to help others. That the role of faith and morality is not just to judge but to aid. Look at who is still a work down in the areas hit by last years storms, it's the church. Why, because they have the organizations to get the job done, yes. But also because their members have a real desire to serve. Sen. Obama speaking about how the church can and should serve to make the world a better place will be an effective message.

You don't need to get a large number of people on your side, even a small percentage can make a huge difference. I think Sen. Obama has a unique opportunity to frame the discussion on faith and public policy and it seems he realizes it.



Bill Baar 7:34 AM  

That the role of faith and morality is not just to judge but to aid.

Is abortion murder? Must marriage be restricted to one man and one woman? Should we allow harvesting of human embryos?

All those issues will remain on the public agenda and demand our judgment.

Unless one wishes to remain in isolation of human experience, we'll need to turn to our faith traditions to help us form our judgements.

That's all Evangelicals do.

Others just restrict their review of these questions to a construed right to privacy in the constitution.

Their answer to these questions is we can't tell you what's right or wrong? It's up to each of us to decide for yourself. Therefore their should be no restrictions on marrriage, abortion, or embryo harvesting. It's ones right to judge either way for oneself.

No way we can hide from making judgements and asking which should enforced by government. Liberals are kidding themselves trying to hide.

JB Powers 7:54 AM  

Perhaps by "speaking about how the church can and should serve to make the world a better place" Senator Obama can explain the role his Christian faith played in his support for the Bridge to Nowhere and Todd Stroeger.

What a high minded individual.


Bill Baar 9:09 AM  

Get a copy of Lt Gen Romeo Dallare's book Shake Hands with the Devil. (Forward by Obama staffer Samantha Powers).

Rome lead the UN force in Rwanda and is the guy portrayed by Nick Nolte in the film Hotel Rwanda.

Go to the footnote on page 372. You'll find this tribute to Illinois's Senator Paul Simon.

Some US politicians whole heartedly supported UNAMIR. On May 5, snators Paul Simon and Jim Jeffords contatcted me in Kigali and got first-hand the information they needed to drafte a letter to the White House seeking a change in policy from the administration in regards to Rwanda and UNAMIR. In the months to come these gentlemane became my greatest allies in the US government unttil finally the administration was so embarrassed by the media and by the senator's lobbying that it finally mounted a humanitarian mission. That mission did save th elives of millions--includint most of the perpetrator of the enocide--but it did not assist the victims nor did it arrive in time to prevent or stop the genocide. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Simon and Jeffords for a t least tryin to ge t Rwanda on the radar screen of the White House.

Powers needs to keep reminding Obama he has some big shoes to fill with Paul Simon.

Bridget 11:51 AM  

OneMan, I completely agree with you. And I commend Senator Obama for embracing this opportunity to bring critical issues like poverty and AIDS at the forefront of faith issues.

Bill, there are many, many relgious folks out there who choose to do what they can to make a positive impact on the world instead of worrying about judging others. There are many religious folks who believe that it is God's duty to judge and no one else's.

There are just as many who believe that we should take responsibility to care for those less fortunate than ourselves and make that their top priority.

It is cynical to assume that wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage dominate the psyche of most religious people over issues like helping those less fortunate. These people are just not as vocal as those willing to assume God's role and decide who's going to hell.

I think that most religious people will embrace Obama's genuine reflections on faith. They've been taken taken for granted and used as pawns by the GOP for long enough and I'm willing to bet they're sick of it.

Bill Baar 12:36 PM  

This is more of the left saying Bush supporters have been bamboozled by the GOP or Conservatives. In this case Evangelicals.

Evangelicals vote the issues same as anyone else, and if Obama is trying to get votes by showing a genuine reflection of faith as you suggest he's really underestimating Evangelicals.

They should hear him out..

But the issues of is abortion murder? Should marriage be kept to one man, one woman? And should we place limits or ban the harvest of human embryos, are all questions that won't go away.

The left can't dodge them by talking about Green theology, min wage, social justice.... (I belong to a Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee -every Bush supporter in a liberal church should join one)

We can't chuck our obligation to legislate these issues by just saying only God judges... (whew, great, leave it to her).

...that's pretty much what the Clinton Administration and the UN did with Rwanda (save Paul Simon)... we avoided judgement which implied intervention and said hey, it's an African problem.

I have no idea what God does, in all honesty don't care much... History will judge us though.

Dallaire wrote a good history without hesitating to judge. No God in his book but the Devil appears almost every page.

Bill Baar 1:02 PM  

Try looking at Obama's visit to Warrens Northen California Church this ways...

Even my Liberal Unitarian-Universalist friends doing a second look at B16's (Pope Benedict XVI) visit to Turkey.

Benedict is arguing a Liberal and Rational faith, a Reconciliation between God's Law and Modernity, to an audience he'll capture via TV in sore need of hearing it.

If Obama (and Obama's a world superstar now) followed B16's path to Turkey and gave the same speech he gives to Warren's followers, then I would look at him differently.

This speech to Warren's flock just looks more media hype to me.

4Piggybanks2 9:48 PM  

I imagine my comment will be considered simple minded, but, here goes anyway.

Frankly, I'm tired of the "My God is better than your God and He likes me best." religious philosophy. It is accompanied by the "My religion's rules beat out your laws anyday." and "Let's use religious beliefs and "our" God (instead of our greed and power addictions) as an excuse to eliminate each other from the planet." philosophies.

Perhaps when/if mankind gets over its supersized ego trip, if we haven't nuked each other into extinction, maybe we can create a "new" religion called "First do no harm." It's a simple concept that eliminates all the other game fillers we like to think of as civilization.

As to Mr. Obama - I am already drowning in the media overkill about him (and a few others too). Let him prove himself first before he puts on bigger shoes.

Bill Baar 7:33 AM  

As to Mr. Obama - I am already drowning in the media overkill about him (and a few others too). Let him prove himself first before he puts on bigger shoes.

My sig other was mumbling that this AM while reading Maureen Dowd.

We're still stuck with answering moral questions 4piggy. We can look to all the faith traditions for help but were stick with answering the questions ourselves.

Religions always struggle reconciling the Law (Shiria for Muslims) with the world.

Obama chose a poweder puff struggle in Northern California.

Benedict chose the entrance to the Islamic world in Istanbul.

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