In 2008, Barack Obama stole a chunk of religious voters from the GOP by clothing his secularist and socialist positions in quasi-religious garb.
“People of faith” received their own slot on his campaign web site, a mere two tabs down from the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community.” Obama “valued” the religious, as he put it. He particularly valued their votes. Obama has long believed in the separation of church and state but not in the separation of bogus religiosity from winning.
This year his pitch to the religious is a little more tricky in light of the HHS mandate and other overtly secularist policies of his administration. Still, he could pull it off. Recent polling suggests that he is on track to win the Catholic vote again.
Obama’s campaign web site enumerates his supposed “accomplishments for people of faith.” It is a threadbare list. Not one of them bears directly upon the doctrinal content of religion. The “accomplishments” include ObamaCare, attempted amnesty through the DREAM act, and his Stimulus package.
The page casts him as a “committed Christian,” a description contradicted by his own longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. “Church is not their thing,” Wright told author Edward Klein. The Obamas almost never attend church, unless political exigencies require it and photographers are in tow.
The accent on the page is not Judeo-Christian but indifferentist, offering tribute to “diverse” faiths, no matter how foreign to the American experience. Obama proudly announces that he has “hosted events marking the holidays of diverse faiths, including Diwali, the Passover Seder, and continuing the tradition of celebrating Ramadan at the White House.” Notice that last claim: the “tradition” of celebrating Ramadan. Some tradition: it goes all the way back to Bill Clinton. Obama has claimed that it goes back to Thomas Jefferson but historians have exploded that claim, noting that Jefferson’s famous dinner with the envoy of Tunisia was not a celebration of Ramadan but a war negotiation.
The more non-Western the religion, the more Obama tends to like it. Despite all of his talk about religion’s need to find grounding in a common “rationality,” he prefers zany, openly superstitious sects to Catholicism, which is the most intellectually grounded of all religions. For example, at the very moment he sought to compromise the Church’s freedom through the HHS mandate, he was granting a permit to an American Indian tribe to kill normally protected bald eagles for religious purposes. The Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming needed eagle feathers for their “Sun Dance.” Obama’s environmentalists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who would have balked at the request from any other group, granted it in March 2012.
His campaign page is full of other misleading whoppers: he calls his mother, whom Obama biographers like David Remnick have described as studiously nonreligious, “deeply spiritual;” he boasts of his cozy connection to the Catholic Church (by which he means socialists in the archdiocese of Chicago); and he says that his community organizing led him to “Christ” (Jeremiah Wright has said that Obama’s interest in his church was political, not religious, and that it is “hard to tell” if any conversion occurred).
Nobody ever went broke “underestimating the intelligence of the American people,” circus promoter P.T. Barnum once said. Obama appears to agree, applying a similar level of cynicism to churchgoing Americans. Even after four years of his aggressive secularism, even after his party tried to omit God from its platform, he remains convinced that he can still hoodwink the religious into voting for his reelection.
The one religion whose vote he has already sewn up is Islam. Nine out of ten Muslims voted for him in 2008. Perhaps ten out of ten will vote for him this year. While Muslims abroad curse him and burn his picture, Muslims at home appear to see him as either a champion or a very useful idiot. They know that his “religious tolerance” is highly selective, applying mainly to them. As he dines with celebrities like Da Vinci Code star Tom Hanks, his Justice Department tries to round up critics of Islam.
Christians would be foolish to number themselves among Obama’s “people of faith.”
This column first appeared September 20, 2012 at RealClearReligion.org and is reprinted with permission.