Sen. Barack Obama defends his criticism of the Religious Right.

Call me impressed. I wasn’t particularly enamored with Barack Obama as a potential future President, but his recent criticism of the Religious Right — he said they’d hijacked faith — has caught my attention:

“When you have pastors and television pundits who appear to explicitly coordinate with one political party; when you’re implying that your fellow Americans are traitors, terrorist sympathizers or akin to the devil himself; then I think you’re attempting to hijack the faith of those who follow you for your own personal or political ends,” the freshman Illinois Senator said at The Brody File.

“For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice,” Obama wrote to Brody, pointing to early American leaders who fought to include the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

He went on, “Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers.”

I’ve been waiting for someone to say as much, but so far Obama appears to be the first to do so. I want to know that my President is going to represent everyone and not just those he agrees with.

34 thoughts on “Sen. Barack Obama defends his criticism of the Religious Right.

  1. Whoa- that’s the first time I can recall a presidential contender mentioning non-believers in a positive context.  Way to go.

  2. Running against a majority would be political suicide, he has to be careful not to upset xians in his attempt to gain the support of other groups. Boosting minorities (non-believers and other faiths) is fine so long as you don’t detract from the bias of the majority, or lead them to believe that you do

    Whether or not this’ll work depends on how much the average american voter will listen to reason, and whether or not they prefer him over one who would further their bias and incorporate it into policy

  3. This only solidifies what I have been saying for over a year.  Obama should be our next president.  I don’t give a fuck about his age, he is intelligent, thoughtful, thought provoking, and says what needs to be said, including the above statement.

    I only add, I hope he chooses The Governator as his running mate.

  4. Yeah – it is refreshing that Obama would mention the fact that the US isn’t a Christian nation.

    Whether or not this’ll work depends on how much the average american voter will listen to reason …

    If it depends on that, then we’re all doomed.

  5. Obama has had my vote for a long time.

    (Psst. The Governator can’t be Veep. He’s not a natural born citizen.)

  6. Whether or not this’ll work depends on how much the average american voter will listen to reason …

    If it depends on that, then we’re all doomed.

    Can’t resist favorite Adlai Stevenson quote again.  An enthusiastic volunteer told him that every thinking American would vote for him.  He said; “Thank you, Ma’am, but that won’t be enough. We need a majority.” 

    Elitist?  About damn time we got somebody elite in the top job…

  7. Elitist?  About damn time we got somebody elite in the top job…

    And it’s about damn time we thinking Americans recognize the “elitist” slur for what it really is: a glaring indication of insecurity. How much courage and integrity does it take to vote a certifiable moron into executive office?

  8. “Someday the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
    — H.L. Mencken

    “Very often that substitute [for education] takes the form of anti-intellectualism – a pretense that knowledge, education, and culture are worthless or even dangerous.  This is, of course, a typical sour-grapes reaction; not long ago one could identify those suffering from it by their fondness for the word “egghead.” That engaging term is now a little out of fashion, because the events of the last few years have made it obvious to everyone that society that despises brains is on the one-way road to oblivion.”
    – Arthur C. Clarke, The Lunatic Fringe

  9. obvious to everyone that society that despises brains is on the one-way road to oblivion.

    Unfortunately not.  I don’t want the guy in charge to be a regular kind of guy. I want him to know what he’s doing.  How many politicians have any useful qualification or training in ruling?

    Britain and American are societies which value the lowest common denominator over the clever.  Watch the populat culture- Sit-coms and Soaps. How often do we see the hero as a ‘Regular Joe’ triumphing over the intellectual. Look at the way the clever are portrayed- bow tie wearing snobs.

    Criticise popular culture and people sneer at you (Unfortunately on occasion that includes you Les!).

    I’ll stop before this becomes to ranty…

  10. The commonperson often considers themselves right, and that any clever person would think the same as they do, so anyone spouting off the same ideas must be intelligent in their eyes.

    Interestingly, and perhaps correctly, some people think it stupid to think, because it causes distress when reflecting on the world and your own actions. Would it be easier to be an asshole who’s free from concience by their convinction that they’ll go to heaven, if so, why lead a more difficult life? Why care about others if they need not enter your concience?

  11. WAR OBAMA!!!!

     

    p.s. That is game speak for; Go obama and/or Win obama.

    p.s.s. I do not support the american invasion of Iraq.

  12. Whopvillian: p.s.s. I do not support the american invasion of Iraq.

    You sure you’re on the right site?  We’re all die-hard Bush fanatics here.  No seriously – welcome to SEB.  Now, what makes you think you’re not really supporting the invasion/occupation?  Do you hold out on your taxes or something?

    Interestingly, and perhaps correctly, some people think it stupid to think …

    I think those who think it’s stupid to think are not thinking clearly … wait … my skull just imploded.

    My mother-in-law probably put this most succinctly, but by accident of course, when she once said, “It’s hard to think when you’re not used to it.”

  13. MP: I think those who think it’s stupid to think are not thinking clearly … wait … my skull just imploded

    But if ignorance is indeed bliss, is it really something to move away from? Being aware of the world’s problems, watching it decay under stupidity, is distressing, and yet you cannot completely rid the world of stupidity, so would suffer yourself looking back on the world (though you can, on a small scale, shape the people around you into an image you find more pleasing, providing you let the alternative distress you). Knowledge of your effect on others also restricts your actions…

    However I say this all in the safety of knowing it won’t work – you can’t forget what you already know (of how people are emotionally affected) and you can’t (permanently) lose your concience. This is actually intended to get people to think about the direction we’re headed in, from where you can decide which you prefer. I’m also hurrying on mistakes that would’ve happened anyway. I also know from the outset, ignorance can be hell, it’s horrible to be in unnecessary, continual hate or worry, and feel slaven to people’s expectations and those of your own.

  14. Michael Peacock: Now, what makes you think you’re not really supporting the invasion/occupation?  Do you hold out on your taxes or something?

    You and your logic **shakes fist in the air**

    I of course am forced to fund the invasion/occupation. But I wish I did not, as I do not agree with it.

    Similarly to that rapscallions faith based programs. I would never EVER willing give my money to the spread of any bigotry, unreason, religion, supernatural, superstition, ect, ect, ect. Yet I am forced to finacially support the spread of those as well.

  15. Oh noes, teh religions! Much evils!

    Greets, I’m Mikhail. I talk funny.

    Well, though I myself ams nots quites the most devout person in the world, I have no problem with religion.

    Why?

    You’re completely right that ignorance is bliss. Conscious, rational thought is physical damnation. You’re not quite machine enough to ignore your emotions, but you’re not quite human enough to embrace them and the idiocy that it brings.

    So, you implode. Yays.

    Religion, in any form, does manage to fill that niche. You can forget about your silly earth problems. That’s god’s business, you know. In moderation, religion can allow the common person, who has neither attained enlightenment, nor is completely useless, to power society, move the human race forward, and yet not remain completely ignorant.

    Einstein did it. Not all religious people are idiots. It does really help to forget about stuff.

    Of course, if you do manage to divide your conscious brain up, you can be both truly enlightened, and sane. You’ll be wildly eccentric and somewhere down the line you’ll probably get depressed, but you’ll function until middle age.

    And if you consider yourself enlightened, and truly rational, and yet do not feel somewhat insane, then you, are not quite enlightened, or, quite frankly, you’re missing that wonderful part of the psyche that tells you that people dying and fighting for worthless causes and living pointless lives is sad.

    My three cents. (Plus tax)

  16. Greets, I’m Mikhai

    Yo

    Religion, in any form, does manage to fill that niche

    There seems to be a religion need, or a set of needs that makes a person likely to turn to religion. Unless you’re 100% absolutely certain of what to expect on death, it opens up a lot of questions (pondering mortality day in, day out, no way of finding out, but might as well be prepared for anything

    and somewhere down the line you’ll probably get depressed

    There does indeed seem a pattern (bolzmann, carothers, etc). I suspect when the mind is overactive it dispells the illusions that give it security, because it has to latch onto something, so it self-destructs. Normally the mind creates perception illusions to help people better deal with the world – a coping strategy, many people can’t handle full-on reality, and I’d be lying if I said I could.

  17. Assuming that, in this sort of psychological example, the individual came to atheism through rational dispelling, I have a simpler phrased idea of what goes on. I think its a double effect of the fact that, in the end. one realizes that, everything is pointless, and that everything is incredibly temporary, along with the notion you just mentioned, the fact that there is nothing to “go back to”, no sort of shield from reality.

    And, assuming that the person, hypothetically, of course, came to it through rationality, I wouldn’t be surprised if our own morality, defined in any way, would backfire and make the individual highly depressed at the terrible state of affairs the world is in.

  18. There seems to be a religion need, or a set of needs that makes a person likely to turn to religion.

    Depends how you define religion, but most of us adopt some sort of structure to live by, including a set of first principles that the rest of what we do tends to pivot on.

    It just so happens that some structures are kinda bad to rally behind.

  19. Mikhail: Assuming that, in this sort of psychological example, the individual came to atheism through rational dispelling

    If you have enough information to reach a conclusion- I don’t know for certain that I’m actually awake, the entirity of life could be a kind of long dream, and we have no parameters to say it’s more probable that it is/isn’t.

    the end. one realizes that, everything is pointless

    Even with/without religion, overall existence (maybe also life) must be pointless, because when you keep asking ‘why?’ in any system you always hit a brick wall where there is no reason for your most fundamental thing to exist. For religion there’s no point for god to exist (hence no point for us to), and for general science there’s no reason why physics (or it’s basic laws) exist. If you need convincing, ask yourself why positive and negative charges attract, why gravity decreases with distance, why the speed of light is what it is, why there aren’t more laws of physics than there are, etc…

    The only thing that could possibly give existence any sort of meaning at all is emotion

    and that everything is incredibly temporary

    A curse, but also a blessing, and is necessary for adaptation to the environment. Unfortunately desire for a need lasts much longer than the satisfied need, so I try to get rid of (at least) psychological needs if I can

    And, assuming that the person, hypothetically, of course, came to it through rationality, I wouldn’t be surprised if our own morality, defined in any way, would backfire and make the individual highly depressed at the terrible state of affairs the world is in.

    Is there a rational reason to clutch onto morality?- particularly if it’s distressing or limits you with guilt. I realise some morality is virtually unabandonable. Nethertheless it pays to try not to let stuff distress/worry. From the end perspective nothing matters once we’re dead if we face oblivion, but before that point people desire to make the most of the now (materialism), but that can be more reason to shape the world into an image you find more pleasing.

    Patness – I’m thinking the security need, and the fear of the unknown, and/or the need to be prepared, perhaps also the inability to accept the doom of self+others.
    Of course, this suggests nothing about how likely religion really is (which I can’t define anyway, because I lack the parameters)

  20. Thats your opinion. But theres more Christian Beliver’s then you think there is. You have to look at all sides. You claim your not an Atheist.
    Are you believeing in God? So find out who Barack Obama is. =)

  21. so here i go, FIRST- everyone here is saying “obama is the only one saying what needs to be said” and “my vote is rock solid for obama” because of what hes said??? tell me what he has done??/ please!! tell me what he has DONE not SAID to back anyhting he says. For the love of Jesus!! YES I SAID JESUS CHRIST, the true messiah not barrack!!! anyways….for the love of JESUS….the man is an idiot. Im wrong?? he thinks there is OVER 57 states!!  please!!! tell me what you people have to go other then whims….. “my friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you’ll join me as we try and change it”—barack obama.  funny how he wants to change such a great nation! yup vote for obama!! idiots!

  22. Well Josh, since you asked here’s a look at Obama’s record.  And as for what he has said, we’re ‘values voters’ and one of our most important values is separation of church and state.  Because wishing for more connection between the two is just asking for trouble, for ideologues where qualified professionals should be, for government programs that don’t work, and for oppression of people just trying to live their lives with people they love.

    Obama has clearly demonstrated, particularly with his disappointing FISA vote, that he ain’t perfect.  But for once we have a candidate who can (as Jon Stewart put it) “talk to Americans about race as if they were adults”.  Whose economic plan numbers come within an order of magnitude of making sense.  Whose energy plan is forward-looking instead of backward-wishing. 

    So yeah; compared to McCain (who has demonstrated his intentions by voting with Bush 95% of the time) he’s a good bet for America.

  23. i pity fools who actually believe that any elected
    official actually gets to make any meaningful changes , assuming of course he/she is even allowed
    access to all the information necessary to formulate
    an appropriate plan .
    we are stuck with left-right swings of the political pendulum , each swing foisting upon us
    more biased “solutions” that dig us further into a moral and economic hole .it is an effective distraction away from the even bigger fools pulling
    the strings of the puppet we get angry at through each term .so in our questionable future as
    a slave race , we would ask the slavemasters(if they speak our language / or are even humanoid)“how do your children feel about what you’ve done?”

  24. p.s. -i offer as evidence in support of my earlier post A-bush bails out banks in total contravention
    of conservative financial law “live by the sword ,die by the sword” B-obama advocating strikes against pakistan while basing his platform on dialogue with islamist rogue nations .
    what i am trying to point out is that each political
    party finds it impossible to implement its ideals . do we detect an invisible player at work behind the scenes? -or perhaps there is no humane solution that is workable for all of this growing planet of conflicted people .for those of a religious bent,christ shared in private with his apostles information that couldn’t be told to the masses “because they cannot bear it “.peace ,bro

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