Man, if Dubya had said this—or rather, those times when he did—he’d be… well, pick [the past participle of] your preferred metaphorical violent torture, perhaps featured in the Bible and including death.
Anyhow, turns out President Obama pushed for invasive financial regulatory reform and socialist health care reform, both of which have caused a bad economy to get worse, deficits as far as our great-grandchildren’s eyes can see, and a jobless rate that looks like 8% is the new standard of time-for-a-ticker-tape-parade “low,” because of… Jesus.
His words at the National Prayer Breakfast, as quoted by Zeke Miller:
And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
I’d be remiss if I stopped there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try — imperfectly, but I must try — to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.
And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense. But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.
And when I decide to stand up for foreign aid, or prevent atrocities in places like Uganda, or take on issues like human trafficking, it’s not just about strengthening alliances, or promoting democratic values, or projecting American leadership around the world, although it does all those things and it will make us safer and more secure. It’s also about the biblical call to care for the least of these — for the poor; for those at the margins of our society.
To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Set aside all discussion about whether or not his rhetoric sounds good (not bad) and the modest-sounding goals he claims are worthy (they mostly are), because we could spend a long time going through his demagoguery of his opponents (alligator-filled moats? really?) and the fact that his policies that follow up on those modest-sounding goals typically resemble amputating your arm to stop bleeding to death from the wrist. Let’s set that aside for the moment and focus on his motivation. His dedication to Jesus.
One of the consistent lines of attack against the Church’s rejection of the HHS mandate has been that the Church is somehow violating the separation of church and state by insisting that this rule is wrong. Though I scratch my head at the logic, I imagine the logic used would have to encompass the above quotations: something so provocative as the President of the United States blatantly and fully stating that a major motivation for his activity was his Christian faith. He even cited a couple of passages from the Bible as evidence.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with elected officials using their faith as a motivation for political activity,* but lots of people who hang around here seem to.
My question to those people is whether they are outraged at the President’s seeming inability to keep his faith to himself and govern in spite of his professed Christian faith? If the Catholic Church ought to just shut up and do what it’s told because we can’t have anyone with a religious agenda dictating public policy, then what about President Obama?
Only two other options remain. Possibly it’s that no one takes his claims of faith seriously, which means he’s pandering and everyone knows it, including him, but no one on “that side” of the room is willing to proclaim the dearth of clothing on that emperor.
Or, those who are outraged whenever a social conservatives mentions his faith as a motivating factor in his politics don’t mind it when Obama claims his faith as a motivating factor because his “brand” of Christianity coincides with their own opinions about the way how things should be.
Either way there is a stench of hypocrisy present, and it ain’t coming from over here.
*Civics 101: Political activity, or the process of composing and crafting and passing laws, is distinct from the application, enforcement, or interpretation of the law. A legislator is free to call upon whatever traditions he wishes, but once the law is passed the executive branch has to enforce the rules as written and the judiciary has to interpret according to the constitution, applicable laws, and applicable precedents. At least this is per the rule-of-law, separation of powers, and checks-and-balances systems our federal republic is founded upon. So while, for instance, a Muslim legislator is free to propose laws based on shariah and to try to get them passed, the executive is not free to simply enforce shariah of its own volition or refuse to enforce a duly enacted law that is in conflict with shariah; and the judiciary is not free to set aside the constitution, applicable laws, and applicable precedent in favor of shariah when deciding a case.