Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Obama, Christianity, and the Constitution

President Obama is a Christian, Right?

(RNS) In recent days, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum has criticized President Obama for having a "phony theology" not based on the Bible, and prominent evangelist Franklin Graham has said he does not know if Obama is a Christian.
“You have to ask him. I cannot answer that question for anybody," Graham said Tuesday on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe." On the other hand, Graham said that he believes Santorum is a Christian because "his values are so clear on moral issues."
The Practical Buddhist Responds

Barak Obama was a professor of Constitutional law, so he probably has a decent grasp of issues like separation of church and state and freedom of religion. Privately, he's a Protestant, but he presides over a nation founded on secular values.

Religious extremists (the Christian, not the Muslim type) want a kind of theocracy in which their views are promoted by the government. As ignorant of the Constitution as they seem to be of  the Gospel message of peace and compassion, they claim we live in a Christian Land under Christian principles founded on Christian ideals.

Not so. Never so. The Constitution mentions no God or Jesus, and by design. In their wisdom the Founders  knew that an absolute separation of Church and State serves to protect religious liberty, not limit it.

Here's the First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Thomas Jefferson interpreted this to mean that there should be a "wall of separation between Church and State." 

He knew what could happen otherwise. In the theocracies of the world, like Iran, human rights are trampled in the name of a twisted view of religion. There they have no separation, and no freedom of religion. 

The Christian Right clamors for a closed border, in a futile bid to slow the browning of America, and they invoke Christian principles to do it. Their ancestors used the same argument to enshrine human slavery, and later, segregation.  

Why is the Christian Right so closely associated with a passion for capital punishment, wars of aggression, and limiting contraception? Why are they so determined to marginalize sexual minorities, deny health care to the working poor, and to believe in large numbers that Obama is a foreign born Muslim. Why do they insist t that their God could have created the universe only on their approved plan, and that modern science is mostly hoax?

These views, finally, have nothing to do with Christianity, any more than terrorism has to do with Islam. 

I want to live in a land of freedom and justice for all, with equal opportunity, where the religion of the president is none of my business.