Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama Brings Out the Best of the Christian Right

Here is what Obama said in a June 2006 speech to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.
Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asked in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?

While I am no longer a Christian, I am a somewhat familiar with the Bible and understand that it has to be read and interpreted with serious look at the times and circumstances in which it was written. I am also well aware that what stands today as the Christian Bible is the result of some serious editing by the Catholic church around 300 A.D. Understandably, they took a lot of controversial and really good stuff out as they felt the masses they were trying to swindle and control would get some wrong ideas about the whole Catholic church and Pope being a direct conduit to God and infallible thing. That said, what Obama says is completely rational, completely honest and something someone who has come to terms with the warts on his chosen faith would say. I agree with it 100%.

Here is what the Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has to say in response:
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology," Dobson said, adding that Obama is "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
He also goes on to say that Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.

In response to Obama's suggestion that;
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values," Obama said. "It requires their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason."
Dobson says that the suggestion is an attempt to lead by the "lowest common denominator of morality."

So what's the deal? Dobson has already ready made it clear that he won't support McSame but here he is trashing Obama and thereby helping McBush. Here is my call. Dobson has apparently realized that Obama is a real threat, not just to McCain, but to his own distorted view of Christianity and ability to influence the Christian right. Obama talks about his faith and talks about Christianity in real terms and it resonates not just with the "casual" Christians but with a growing number of evangelicals, if you believe the polls. Dobson is now coming to terms with the fact that his hold on the evangelical right is being threatened by someone of real faith that makes sense and expresses that faith and understanding in ways that reach people across a broad spectrum of the population. He knows that fewer and fewer people actually care what he and the rest of his ilk have to say anymore. This is especially true in politics, and that's really Dobson's home turf. He may have loads of red-state followers who will unthinkingly swallow the pap he peddles, but his influence in in Washington is rapidly dimming and when Obama is in the White House he will be persona non grata - big time. He knows his time in the limelight is over and is fighting back in the only way he knows which is lying and distorting Christian belief to his own ends just like all the other snake oil hucksters that feed off the Christian right.

BTW, I always thought James Dobson was a minister or Doctor of Divinity or some other holy roller muckity-muck. It turns out he has no credentials in religion at all. In an email issued by Dobson in which he takes offense and being compared to Al Sharpton in the same June 2006 Obama speech he writes:
"I don’t want to be defensive here," Dr. Dobson says on the broadcast. "Obviously, that is offensive to me.

"He equates me with Al Sharpton, who is a reverend. I am not a reverend. I’m not a minister. I’m not a theologian. I’m not an evangelist. I’m a psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Southern California. And there is no equivalence to us. I don’t want to overreact to it, but this comment was made two years ago, and it’s taken me two years to find out about it."
So the guy isn't a preacher or some big wig comparative religion scholar but a child psychologist for Goddess's sake. Where does he get off lecturing people about religion and the Bible? There is, however, one thing this bit of information brings forth and that is... are you glad your kid didn't spend any time in session with this fruitcake or what?

Crossposted at Fallenmonk