Sunday, August 22, 2010

Perhaps he's Jewish.

Maybe Barack Obama is not a Muslim after all, but have you considered
that he might well be Jewish? 
After all, the Jews are really running everything in the country, so
wouldn’t make sense that they put one of their own in the White House?  Of course, these are not serious
questions, but the idea that the President is Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Yorba or
anything else you can think of is no more farfetched (or in this instance
insidious) than his being a follower of Islam.

Let’s remember the notion that Obama is a Muslim didn’t emerge out of
the blue.  It emanates from
disinformation carefully planted and latched onto by an electorate that is
shockingly illiterate when it comes
to politics, not to mention national and world affairs.  And it is misinformation that in this highly charged environment only two types of leaders can correct: Republican and religious.  What’s happened to all those good
Christian Republicans like Senator Mitch and Representative John who piously
invoke God at every opportune moment? 
Does their religion not value the truth?  Okay, I understand where they are coming from, hypocritical
as it may be, but it is really hard to give a pass to America’s clergy.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when Rick Warren commanded the presidential
candidates to stand before him at Saddleback?  That was when he pointedly asked, what does it mean to you to trust in Christ?  In case you’ve forgotten it, here is
what the then Senator Obama
: As a starting point, it means I
believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I am redeemed through him.
That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.  I know that
I don't walk alone, and I know that if I can get myself out of the way, that I
can maybe carry out in some small way what he intends. And it means that those
sins that I have on a fairly regular basis hopefully will be washed away
.  That seems quite definitive.  In fact it
is far more information than we all need or that frankly I want to know.  But perhaps it still isn’t enough for
Pastor Rick.  Unless I missed it (which
is possible), he has been totally MIA when his President’s religious
affiliation – the one he confessed so openly before the country and, one must
assume before God --  is being miscast. 
Not to put the entire burden on this single mega-pastor, the same can be
said of much, if not all, the other clergy?  I guess they are busy with more important and sacred matters,
but their silence is so audible that it is shatters our moral eardrums.

Of course the more fundamental question here is not about which religion
the President follows, but why that matters?  The Declaration of Independence may give God a nod, but I
know of no requirement in the Constitution that the nation’s chief executive be
a Christian or that she (one can still hope) has to follow any religion at
all.  The widespread notion that
you can’t trust an atheist, and probably even an avowed agnostic, with
governess is simply born out of ignorance.  There is no experiential or scientific proof that following
a religion is any more a guarantee of good performance or for that matter
honesty than following none. 
Even the most pious among us can't miraculously right a very sick economy.  Moreover, we should r
emember that making religion a requirement effectively renders 16% (and
growing) of our citizens ineligible for the highest office.  That includes 25% of our young people, our future.  Put differently, the only way any of
them can rise to the presidency is to lie about their beliefs, just as gays and
lesbians had to lie about their identity to make it in our world.

The sad thing about the Obama is
a Muslim
myth is that it is yet another opportunity for us to avoid any serious discussion about why
we insist on this religious litmus test.   Think for example if we made religious beliefs or
practice a requirement of all people in decisive positions.  We might not have many of today’s
medical advancements, scientific discoveries, technology and so much more.  Does that mean you have to be
non-religious to work or create in these fields?  Of course not, and there are religious people in all of
them.  But it does suggest that
believing in God or going to Church, Synagogue or Mosque isn’t a prerequisite for
making a major, indeed essential, contribution to our society or well being.

We’re not going to have this conversation, just as we’re unlikely to
have a serious one about race or so many other important things.  We’re too devoted to our truths and our prejudices and are
clearly in mortal fear of having any of them disproved or even cast in the
slightest doubt.  This isn’t about
President Obama’s religion, which is simply one of the issues of the moment
that come and go on cable news. 
It’s about us and about the fantasies with which we live.  They’re of the stuff that gives us the
right to demand of others what we wouldn’t, god
, demand of ourselves.  Perhaps you can live with that.  I chose not to.

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