Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama's semi-creepy Christocrat campaign flier

Is it possible that we can get a candidate for president who doesn't feel the need to turn the executive office into a matter of theology? We are electing someone whose job is to execute the laws and uphold the Constitution and to be a public servant for the entire American people, we are not electing a Preacher-in-Chief for evangelical Christian Americans.

The Bush presidency should have taught us that being an evangelical Christian is in no way, shape, or form a qualification for becoming president, and I'm sad to see that the Obama campaign feels the need to employ this tactic (though it should still be noted that Obama is explicitly in favor of the separation of church and state.)

I suppose we can consider this a subset of the Cult of the Presidency.


Jennifer said...

I agree that it would be best if religion played no role in presidential politics. But it now does, unfortunately. I'm volunteering for the Obama campaign, and I know why he feels he has to do this: because so many people think he's a Muslim or have some kind of weird ideas about his background. When I was walking around knocking on doors in February, I cannot tell you how many people I talked to said "well, I like him, but he's a Muslim, right? I can't vote for a Muslim" or "I'm just not sure about someone who doesn't believe in God." There are a huge number of people who kept getting those "Obama is Muslim" emails and never heard anything to counter that information. I told people like this what kind of church he went to, etc., even though I honestly felt very uncomfortable talking religion instead of something important, like foreign policy or fiscal matters. But lots of people in this country just have some compelling need to vote for a "Christian," and the GOP has monopolized these people for the last 30 years. I got over my unease about this by realizing that Obama will do a much better job of getting religion out of politics than any Republican candidate. At least I sure hope so.

Ron CHusid said...

Thanks for linking to Liberal Values. When I saw the track back I was going to respond pretty much how I see Jennifer already has.

I would much prefer that all presidential candidates refrain from mixing religion and politics. Ideally if asked about religion they would answer more like that of Arnold Vinick (the fictional Republican presidential candidate on The West Wing):

At least in Obama's case there are reasons why he might feel the need to bring up his religion, including the rumors that he is a Muslim and the manner in which the Republicans have been dominating the religious vote. I can overlook this from Obama considering the number of times he has come out strongly in favor of separation of church and state.

C2H50H said...

What does it say about our culture that many of us are reduced to hoping that he doesn't really mean this, he's just saying it because he has to?

And what does it say about the large number of people for whom this is a prerequisite for getting their vote?

To answer the question in your first sentence, H.G. -- no.

Ron Chusid said...


The issue isn't that we hope the doesn't mean what he says. I don't doubt Obama's religious beliefs and what his religious beliefs are really don't matter. The point is that ideally he shouldn't have to say what his religious beliefs are as part of a political campaign

Hume's Ghost said...

In the previous post I wrote on this I addressed the concern that Obama is responding to anti-Muslim prejudice. My problem with this is that it is a tacit endorsement of that prejudice in the first place, while it also helps to ensure that honest atheists remain unelectable --- he is internalizing the frame of the Religious Right even while trying to attack it.

Perhaps as a practical matter Obama's approach will be the most effective way to get elected, but I'm not a politician and have a hard time thinking along those lines.

Plus, I don't expect triangulating religiosity to work at changing the course of American politics anymore than the Clinton plan did. It worked in the short term but long term we're worse than before.

C2H50H said...


No, I'm sorry, the issue for me (and, I suspect, many like me) is that he might mean what he says, rather than cynically giving the appearance of a sincere religious belief.

I'd really prefer the cynicism, personally.

Jennifer said...

I should have also said that I think it's irrelevant if someone's a Muslin, Christian, Buddhist, or an atheist. That shouldn't matter one iota when you're running for president or any other office. I cannot express how irritating I find the injection of religion into the race this year. But I'm trying to deal with it and trying not to say something nasty to people who say "I won't vote for a Muslim." It's irrational prejudice, for sure.

We can thank thank Rove and the GOP theocrats for this awful turn of events. Just another reason to defeat all of them really, really badly in the election this year.