July 7, 2006

Obama and "The Speech"

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 1:15 am

I’ve been reading the blogosphere’s reaction to Barack Obama’s speech to Call to Renewal, and it’s been all over the map. Aside from those who are unable to tolerate religion whatsoever, and others who are unable to tolerate pluralism whatsoever, it seems there are two reactions. Chuck Currie (and I) loved what he had to say about Christianity and its call to help the least of these. Michelle Goldberg and Frederick Carlson object to Obama’s reinforcing the conservative frame of the liberals’ war on Christianity. Kevin Drum does a good job of summarizing:

And it turns out that in a speech of 4,600 words — mainly about his own religious journey, the liberal message inherent in the Bible, and the importance of the separation of church and state — he really only discussed liberal attitudes toward religion in four places.

[…]

But the plain fact is that he was careful in his speech and also plainly correct: “some” liberals are uncomfortable with any mention of religion in the public square, and he thinks this is too bad.

Nathan Newman at TPMCafe also hits the nail on the head:

If you read the whole speech, the almost kneejerk response to Obama pretty much illustrates his point of the discomfort by some progressives in any discussion of religion in the public square.

So Obama should have avoided playing into the conservative frame regarding secularist oppression of Christians, but let’s just accept the fact that many on the left are still learning the best way to speak about their faith in the current atmosphere, and may stumble as they look for the right words. At the same time, I hope Obama and others don’t retreat under fire. Visible Christian progressives like Obama may need to refine their message, but not abandon it.

As Amy Sullivan writes on this topic,

Americans are looking, Obama said, for a “deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this country.” He started that conversation. A few others are joining in. It’s time for everyone else to catch up.

6 Comments

  1. Overall, I thought Mr. Obama’s speech was pretty good. However, I had my own issues with his tendency to emphasize the “religious” people vs. secular people dichotomy. My issue with this is the fact that, as is too often the case, “religious” in this context is being used as a synonym with “belief in a monotheistic deity as described in the Judeo-Christian scriptures.” As such, there is little place in this dichotomy for those of us who follow religions that aren’t even monotheistic, let alone based on Judeo-Christian scriptures. This is unfortunate, as it means that while Mr. Obama is looking to build bridges with secularists, he’s still (albeit unintentionally) excluding potential allies among those of us who follow Eastern religions, Pagan religions, Native American spirituality, or Yoruban religions.

    I suppose this ommission could be in part due to the fact that Mr. Obama was addressing a room full of people who do follow one of the three religions based on Judeo-Christian scriptures. After all, he does mention other religions (most notably Buddhism and Hinuism) briefly in one paragraph. However, it is my feeling that Mr. Obama or one of his associates needs to expand on that brief mention and not only work to build bridges with secularists, but do some bridge-building with people of other religious stripes, too.

    Comment by Jarred — July 7, 2006 @ 6:26 am

  2. I was quite surprised by his speech and did a lot of head-nodding as a result. I didn’t blog about it, though I meant to. But, it was good. 🙂

    Comment by Angel — July 18, 2006 @ 8:23 am

  3. Obama is no more Christian than Bush is black. If he were he would feel compelled to change his name. He is named Barack Hussein. Hussein is the name of one of the 12 Imams. He is named after somebody that openly denied that Christ is the Son of God. Well, to be a Christian the first thing one must acknowledge is that Christ is the Son of God so his claimed beliefs and his actions do not reconcile with each other. I am sick of pseudo Christians picking up the name Christian for nothing but politics. Furthermore he claims he was “raised in the Christian tradition”. How is this? His mother is supposedly an atheist (that surprisingly kept marrying Muslims which is odd) and his birth father and step father were both Muslims…. that is NOT a traditional Christian upbringing.

    Comment by Thomas lee — January 31, 2007 @ 7:20 am

  4. Obama is to central (Libral according tot he bible) for U.s Presidentcey. Thomas Jefferson and other early founders clearly said that there should be NO speration of church and state. People misinterpret Thomas Jeffersons letter. The words seperation of church and state are FOUND NOWHERE IN THIS LETTER. Liberals confuse the words “Wall of seperation” and think it means “Seperation of church and state.’

    The bible says that tolerance is sin. That would be nice to have a black or women as President, but they should be a conservative Christian. Any conservative Christian is great. No matter the color or gender.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 12, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  5. We also need a dispensationalist like Bush for the job. CHRISTIANS UNITED FOR ISRAEL! SCRIPTURE SAYS TO BLESS ISRAEL! THE BIBLE SAYS THE SEED OF ABRAHAM,ISAAC and JACOB IS STILL THE LITERAL SEED AND GOD HAS NOT BROKEN HIS AGREEMENTS WITH ISRAEL! HE WILL REGATHER THE LOST TRIBES! HE IS DOING THAT NOW! ROMANS 10:21-ROMANS 11,PSALM 122:^

    Comment by Anonymous — February 12, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

  6. I have a problem when presedantial candidates say I am a christian.
    If we start to examine what these( The candidates) believe about Christianity, I am sure we will be surprised. All who go to church or who caime to be a christian climed to be christian do not meet the standard. If you ask them if they are saved, they will give you poletically correct answer,
    like “you know God is the Judge and..” But OBAMA is better than the MORMON or could be a better choice.

    Comment by Veritas — April 4, 2007 @ 8:58 am

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