Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Obama and the Christian faction . . .

On December 1st, Barack Obama spoke at the Saddleback church for the second annual AIDS conference. Saddleback is a megachurch in Orange County pastored by Rick Warren who is the author of the hugely popular mega-seller The Purpose Driven Life. He and his wife Kay invited Obama to speak at the conference some time ago.

The fur flew. Obama, who has taken much flack for being pro-choice, was not eagerly accepted by some of the conservative right. As noted in the Time magazine article dated December 1st : Conservative talk radio host Kevin McCullough wrote on his blog, "Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit -— a sacred piece of honor in evangelical traditions - to the inhumane, sick and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?"

Saddleback church posted a response to the argument by stating that, "Obama was invited to share his views on AIDS, not abortion or any other issue."

Warren is a smart man. He understands that you cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. He apparently grasps the idea that most Christian activists do not think you can disagree with someone on one subject, that even though you differ they are not the devil incarnate. I particularly loved the comment that Richard Land, who is the head of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and its principal Washington strategist. He said that "Rick is having a summit on AIDS, and Barack Obama has said some compelling things about the issue. I work all the time in coalition with people to the right and left of me, when we're in agreement on a specific issue. One of the markers of Evangelicals is the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time."

What a profound argument. It is simply this kind of a mindset that will bring this severely divided country back together. We may not agree on everything, but we can come together when on the things we do agree on. Collin Hansen, an associate editor for Christianity Today said, "I think the Senator's political team, or whoever's making the decision, was smart to associate him with Warren. It suggests that there are Evangelical moderates that they can work with, or reach, or maybe even attract their votes."

I am so sick and tired of the Christian right believing and preaching that if you disagree one iota with something they do that you are to be thrown to the wolves. People can have differing viewpoints and still be powerful leaders for our country. Like Time points out , Billy Graham was in the business of irritating fundamentalists for years by inviting liberals, at least in the theological sense, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. to take part in his crusades. Graham saw the larger picture of bringing the evangelical movement back to the masses by breaking it apart and distinguishing it from fundamentalism. The practice of "second-degree separation," which ostracizes other believers for simply associating with people that they deemed less spiritual and therefore impure was the core belief of fundamentalism that Graham abhorred. Graham's stance was apparently a good move since he became quite popular in the masses and his opponents fell flat.

Warren attempted to squelch the controversy by saying that, "I've got two friends here, a Republican and a Democrat, why? Because you've got to have two wings to fly."

Unfortunately most conservatives are content to stay on the ground at remain unchanged. Thank God for the leader that Rick Warren has become. He seems logical enough to separate politics from his pulpit unlike some. He is the true believer in my book.
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