Think about this: Over the last several weeks, we witnessed four presidential/vice-presidential debates, and not one question was asked about Barack Obama’s historic advocacy of gay marriage. That seems a rather curious omission given the gravity of the issue. No other issue among the candidates is as transformative as this one. Name another issue that involves completely redefining something as ancient as the Garden of Eden. You can’t.
To her credit, Martha Raddatz asked Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, two Catholics, about their faith and their positions on abortion. That, however, was it for any faith-related matters. Marriage was a no-show.
For Mitt Romney, his answer to a question on gay marriage would have been no surprise. The Mormon governor would likely give the standard Christian reply on gay marriage measured against traditional Biblical precepts. As for Barack Obama, however, his answer would be a bit more unconventional, though increasingly common among the Religious Left.
Obama, in fact, cites his faith as instrumental to his support of gay marriage. In his landmark statement advocating gay marriage, Obama, speaking for himself and the first lady, told ABC News: “You know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule … treat others the way you would want to be treated. And … that’s what motivates me as president.”
President Obama had invoked the Golden Rule in support of gay marriage.
As an indication of how he is not alone, consider the thoughts of another liberal Christian, Nancy Pelosi. Congresswoman Pelosi says that her Catholic faith “compels” her to support gay marriage: “My religion has, compels me—and I love it for it—to be against discrimination of any kind in our country, and I consider this a form of discrimination.” Pelosi called Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage “a great day for America.”
There’s much that could be said about Pelosi’s and Obama’s positions, but one thing that jumps out at me is the utter hypocrisy of liberals in reacting to such statements from Pelosi and Obama. Consider:
For eight years, liberals screamed “separation of church and state!” anytime President George W. Bush even dared to mention that he prayed. But now, when Obama and Pelosi invoke their faith on behalf of gay marriage, liberals are fully supportive, applauding loudly and proudly. Instant converts.
To say this is a double standard is a gigantic understatement. I wrote a book on the faith of George W. Bush. I could rattle off dozens of examples of liberals hammering Bush for the most benign expressions of faith. Here are just a few:
When Bush told reporter Bob Woodward that he had consulted his “higher father” before making a decision to send U.S. troops into combat, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell stated flatly, “He should not be praying.” Ralph Nader dubbed Bush a “messianic militarist.”
Or consider another example, provided by Maureen Dowd, New York Times Catholic. What set off Dowd was Bush’s statement in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 13, 1999. The occasion was a Republican presidential debate. The Texas governor was asked to name his favorite philosopher or thinker. He pointed to Jesus Christ.
This was not a surprise to anyone who knew Bush, or knows serious Christians. It was totally genuine, sincere, and certainly completely acceptable—except at the New York Times, where Maureen Dowd launched into orbit.
In an op-ed titled, “Playing the Jesus Card,” Dowd quoted H.L. Mencken, who wrote that religion “is used as a club and a cloak by both politicians and moralists, all of them lusting for power and most of them palpable frauds.” She said that Bush had “finally scored some debate points” by citing Jesus. “This is the era of niche marketing,” explained Dowd, “and Jesus is a niche. Why not use the son of God to help the son of Bush appeal to voters? W. is checking Jesus’ numbers, and Jesus is polling well in Iowa. Christ, the new wedge issue.”
Rather than being sincere about his faith and heart, averred Dowd, Bush had been a scoundrel. “It raises the question,” Dowd preached, of whether the governor wanted Jesus as his “personal Savior or political savior.”
Imagine that reaction. And George Bush was merely saying that Jesus changed his life. He wasn’t going so far as, say, invoking Jesus for his position on gay marriage.
In fact, imagine if Bush had done just that—that is, point to his faith in support of his opposition to gay marriage. How would liberals have reacted? Or, in the current political climate, imagine how liberals will react if and when Mitt Romney (or Paul Ryan) cites his faith against gay marriage.
But if Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi cite their faith for gay marriage? Well, that’s just fine with liberals; in fact, it’s blessedly wonderful. It’s a great moment for faith in the public square.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include God and Ronald Reagan, God and George W. Bush, and God and Hillary Clinton. His latest is The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, the Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.