The intersection of faith and politics is something that is always discussed, and every four years can become something of a hot topic. Barak Obama has made some very interesting comments regarding his views of faith and politics. They are thoughtful, not normal democratic rhetoric, and deserve some interaction. Now in my comments I will ignore his small discussion of his own conversion that mentions nothing of Jesus Christ, sin, and salvation. The avoidance of the words sin and salvation are interesting, but not really the point of this discussion. Instead, I will focus on his discussion of the role of faith and political decision making.
Obama tries to find a balance for Christian morality in "our modern, pluralistic democracy." Further, he tries to find a place for it in the Democratic Party. Obama makes a few admissions that I find startling from any politician and amazing to be coming from a Democrat at all. First and foremost he states,
I also believe that when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we've got a moral problem. There's a hole in that young man's heart - a hole that the government alone cannot fix.
To that I give a hearty Amen! The government cannot fix the problem of sin. One could argue whether or not the party of expanding the powers of the federal government (think federally funded Midnight Basketball) truly follows this belief, but specific social policies are not addressed in this speech. More important is his second startling admission.
So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
It is good to hear a politician admit the plain truth about laws. They are a codification of morality. Obama admits that, and good for him. He also goes on to advocate allowing Christian to use their religious values in their public life referencing Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and William Jennings Bryan and others. This is a step in the right direction. It is nice to see someone admit clear historical facts and carry them over to today’s conflict between religion and politics. Obama thinks he has solved this conflict with a new solution.
But, Obama’s solution is what gets him into trouble. He maintains that the religious must recognize the new truths of the ‘modern pluralistic democracy.’
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.
This is nothing more than fancy mumbo-jumbo that conflicts with his earlier admission that laws are codified morality. It also will not work in the real world. What universal do people of opposite faiths share? What fellowship does Christ have with Belial? The Temple of God with the Temple of Baal? Or Light with Darkness? Let us just look at a few examples to see exactly how Senator Obama’s solution is a false one.
Homosexual marriage might be an example. What universal can those of different faiths agree upon? Will evolutionists agree with Christians on the principle that they do not produce offspring, and thus should not be allowed to marry? Or will they decide marriage itself is an institution that can evolve? Obama says Christians simply cannot point to their faith and say ‘God created marriage, it is what he says it is.’ Right now all marriage laws are codified Christian morality, but according to Obama that cannot be one of our arguing points. Now we have to find a universal that all agree with. What of the Muslims? They may want the marriage laws changed because it allows only one man to marry one woman. Mormons may also follow the Muslim suit because they wish their standards codified. What common ground is there?
More to the point is abortion. Christians believe life begins at conception, but now have to find an universal principle accessible to all people. Evolutionists often believe infanticide is acceptable because it increases survival possibilities for others. See Peter Singer if you don’t believe me. They would especially want to have abortions in the case of the mentally retarded or physically handicapped because they pollute the gene pool. Muslims do not even think murder is wrong if the person dying is an infidel, so what is the big deal about abortion. In other words there is no common ground here either.
Let us see how this revolutionary principle Obama puts forward plays out in his own thinking. The following is taken from an interview about his position on infanticide because of a bill he opposed while in the Illinois Senate. This quote is explaning the existing Illinois law with regards to children born after a failed abortion.
Obama: On the state level that says if there is a fetus that is determined viable and there has to be a second doctor who assists in determining that that fetus is viable- they are required by current Illinois Law to provide that fetus with assistance to make sure that they can live outside the womb. The law already exists. That’s not what Senator O’Malley’s law was about. What Senator O’Malley’s law was about was identifying all fetuses as human beings as a way of going after the right of women to choose to have an abortion pre- viability and that’s the reason that I, like a number of other senators, including Republican senators, voted either present or against it.
Note here what Senator Obama has done. He has found his universal principle to which all can agree. What is it? It is apparently refusing to recognize a baby as a human being or even a baby, but rather simply calling it a fetus. Notice that the fetus is not internal to a mother in her womb, but rather this is an already born baby that was supposed to have died in the womb, but for some reason did not. Senator Obama refuses to recognize that the child born is anything other than a fetus, and it is not even worth saving unless a second doctor comes along and pronounces it a child. So, in finding a universal point that people of all faiths and non-faiths can agree upon, he comes up supporting calling born children fetuses until multiple doctors decree otherwise. I am not sure about anyone else’s experience in giving birth, but I have not seen multiple doctors for any of my three kids, and I bet multiple doctors never work in abortion clinics. Thus, this law is a way to ensure botched abortions still end in death. Yet, Obama finds it the best way to go about things, and poor Senator O’Malley is the transgressor for trying to get personhood given to all children. When is a fetus a person in Obama’s mind?
If you are like me you are probably thinking that Mr. Obama’s Christian informed position sounds an awful lot like abortion on demand because babies are not people. You are probably also asking yourself exactly what did the evolutionists like Peter Singer give up to compromise with the people faith who oppose evolution in Obama’s position? It sounds an awful lot like translating the Christian faith into universal principles that all can access is just a new way to say the same old thing. ‘Leave your faith at the door when it comes to making laws.’
Obama understands laws are codified morality, he just refuses to codified a Christian morality instead choosing for the lowest common denominator morality. Obama has identified the problem by seeing this is a culture war about whose morality will govern the land, he just comes to the wrong solution. Obama’s solution is nothing less than a complete surrender. He sounds a lot like he is taking a new approach to religion and politics, but in reality he just found a new way to couch the old message of keeping the Christian faith out of politics.