Obama on Religion and Atheism

In general, I would consider myself a supporter of Barack Obama.  He seems to be a rational man that’s not blinded by the “political” side of politics.  One part that does bother me, however, is his emphasis on the fact that he’s a Christian.  Even without the recent fiasco related to his preacher’s hateful comments, the idea that someone that believes in a supreme being doesn’t sit well with me.  After all, we’re living in a nation where the President states that God has told him to attack a nation, completely unprovoked.  And Americans seem to be fine with that (those that aren’t completely ignorant of it, at least).

But, assuming that a political candidate must profess (or at least, pretend) to believe in some magical Creator of the Universe in order to have a chance of being elected, Obama is probably the least of numerous evils.  At least the Mormon guy is out of the race. 

On the topic of his religious beliefs, I ran into a June, 2006 article by Obama titled Call to Renewal Keynote Address.  From the article:

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.

This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

So it sees that he’s at least capable of thinking about religion rationally.  And he’s not afraid to draw a line between absurd claims and the laws that govern the United States.  That alone is a huge step forward from the reign of King George. 

But I wonder if Obama really sees the many contradictions he pointed out.  The Bible is filled with tons of garbage that’s absolutely unconscionable by today’s standards.  Imagine if we had laws that made it acceptable to own slaves or murder children.  Yet, many Americans claim to believe in the literal truth of The Bible.  The other stories and examples of comments and statistics in this article should be terrifying.  But, because they’re based on “faith”, people accept these horrific views of the world. 

I truly hope that Obama can help save religious Americans from themselves.  Today, that seems to be a problem that God – even if one did exist – couldn’t solve.


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