Posts Tagged ‘religion’

As this blog has previously noted, President Obama has a bad habit of invoking the Almighty in unfortunate and inartful ways while seeking support for his agenda.  While speaking to moderate and liberal clergy today, Obama took on those who he said were “bearing false witness” against his health care plan, and then explained why his opponents are immoral:

“These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation: that is, that we look out for one another; that is, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper,” the president said. “And in the wealthiest nation in the world right now we are neglecting to live up to that call.”

That turn of phrase, “I am my brother’s keeper,” has to the ear a tinge of Biblical truth about it — many of us can at least recall that we first heard it or something like it in Sunday School.  A closer look, however, demonstrates that Mr. Obama’s theology is assembled to fit his politics, not the other way around.

To start with, Obama gets the quote wrong.  In Genesis 4:9, when asked by God, “Where is your brother, Abel?” Cain replied, “I don’t know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Of course, Cain knew exactly where is brother was – he was dead, murdered out of envy by Cain himself.  Note that the quote was not by God, telling us how we should act, but by Cain, a fratricidal maniac who was talking back to God.

In fact, the Cain/Abel drama has a lot to tell us about the sin of envy and God’s will for those who want greater favor from Him.  When Cain’s sacrifice to God did not yield God’s respect, and his brother’s did, Cain grew angry.  God then asked Cain why he was angry, and had this advice for him: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

In other words, when one of God’s children is disappointed that her work is not shown favor by God, God tells her to work harder and to follow His will; then her work will be accepted.  To do anything else, we risk sin.  In the case of Cain, he failed to master his envy of his brother, and it overtook him.  Rather than asking himself what he could do to earn God’s favor, Cain hated his brother for having gained His favor, and he punished him for it.

Cain was certainly not his brother’s keeper.  But neither did God want Cain to be.  Cain believed his brother’s success was bound up with his own — that there was a zero-sum game at work, and that his brother’s success meant his own failure.  Thus, rather than prepare a better sacrifice, Cain attacked his brother.  God just wanted better from Cain.  Instead, Cain gave him much, much worse.

Consider, then, the moral of this story in the health care debate.  (more…)

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Senator Jim DeMint has highlighted a nasty little morsel in the Democratic stimulus legislation:

(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS.—No funds awarded under this section may be used for—

(C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities—

(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or

(ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or construction of new facilities.

That’s right — the Democrats are insisting that if stimulus funds are used by a university to repair or renovate a campus building, that building is forever banned from housing “sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity.”

Think about that for a minute.  If a Syracuse dining hall has its windows replaced by the bill, students will be prohibited by federal law from saying a prayer before their meals.  If Duke University builds a classroom building to house its art department with stimulus money, in the year 2120, the local U.S. Attorney can go to court to enjoin the school from moving its Divinity School into the structure.  If the University of Georgia so much as changes a lightbulb purchased with stimulus money in its Chapel, it can arguably never host another marriage ceremony.  And perhaps most importantly, no sectarian university could ever contemplate receiving funds from the stimulus bill, because the bill would require it to establish a “no God allowed” building in the middle of its campus.

It’s an outrageous violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which any Senator should understand upon first reading.  Established Supreme Court precedent has plainly prohibited government entities, such as public schools, from preventing individuals from exercising their religious liberty in orderly ways on public property.  But Sen. DeMint has already tried to remove the language via amendment, and the AMENDMENT FAILED.

In case you wondered if liberalism had truly run amok in this bill, this should decide the matter for you.  Even I never expected the Democrats to sink this low in week 3 of the Obama Administration.  Get on the phone, folks, and put an end to this madness.

Campus transit during the Obama Administration?

Campus transit during the Obama Administration?

Update: Malkin and the Corner are all over this.

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This morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama took the occasion to make some comments about religion and respect for human life:

There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

So, Mr. President, speaking as a professing Christian and a supporter of abortion, does God consider infants in the womb to be (a) corrupt and guilty or (b) not human beings?  And if they aren’t human beings, what does God think they are?

Given that this was a prepared address, I continue to question the benighted Jon Favreau’s much-lauded skeelz.  There is no way that Obama intended to open this can of worms in the middle of what has been a wretched week for the Administration.

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As so many blogs, periodicals, and other wags have done, so shall I make my predictions for the year to come.  Your own predictions are encouraged in the comments (as are your criticisms of the prognostications below).

  1. The House, but not the Senate, votes on (and passes) the Employee Free Choice Act.   A surprisingly effective P.R. campaign by business and Republican leaders, utterly ignored by the media but well-received by the public, results in extreme political pressure to protect the secret ballot in union elections.  President Obama and the Senate ultimately choose to “postpone” action on the bill in the midst of an economic crisis.  Union leaders do themselves no favors when they threaten to strike at selected businesses in retaliation for their leadership in the pro-election movement.  The bill will never resurface in the 111th Congress.
  2. A significant rise in church attendance and tithing lead to a media blitz on an emerging “faith movement” in the U.S. in response to dreadful economic conditions.  Some on the far left complain that these new contributions aren’t reaching the people “who most need them,” arguing that they should be taxed by the federal Treasury.  California’s legislature takes them up on their suggestion in a desperate move to avoid bankruptcy (and, for some, to punish proponents of Proposition 8).  Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill, but the backlash causes more legislators (Republicans and Democrats alike) to lose their seats in 2010 than in any election in state history.
  3. Sen. McCain enrages his one-time supporters by backing the Democrats’ $1 trillion stimulus bill.  McCain stands, beaming, next to President Obama as he signs the bill into law, and the President personally thanks his “good friend and former adversary” for his crucial assistance in passing the legislation.  As McCain jettisons his one remaining economic principle in pursuit of popularity, Republicans, making great strides in renewing their brand as opponents of big government, believe they may have dodged a bullet. (update: Rick Santorum agrees with me on this one.)
  4. (more…)

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I’m still taking in Charlie Gibson’s interview of Sarah Palin, but I am struck (again) by the total inability of the news media to accept the legitimacy of conservative Christians holding public office.  Gibson, in the interview broadcast this evening:

Gibson: You said recently in your old church that “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.”    Are we fighting a holy war?”

A holy war, Charlie?  We jump from the task of defending America from violent terrorists and those that would destroy us to an American jihad?  That by asking the congregants to pray for the troops, Palin gave her son and his fellow soldiers a fatwa to obliterate Muslims?  It’s apparently impossible for an American Christian to believe in the rectitude of his nation’s cause, because in doing so, that Christian has imbued it with the spectre of the Inquisition, the Crusades, and all violent attempts to spread Christianity among the infidels.  The ignorance behind that question is astonishing.  Palin, not being ignorant, was certainly up to the task of answering it:

Palin: The reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words, when he said…first, he suggested “Never presume to know what God’s will is” and I would never presume to know God’s will or speak God’s words, but what Abraham Lincoln had said – and that’s a repeat in my comments – was “Let us not pray that God is on our side, in a war or any other time.  But let us pray that we are on God’s side.  That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie.

Gibson isn’t satisfied, though, and continues to probe Palin’s sinister, theocratic heart:

Gibson: But you went on and said “There is a plan, and it is God’s plan.” [shakes head, flutters eyes]

Boy, you got her there, Charlie.  Only wacky, snake-handling, cross-burning nutjobs think God has a plan.  I mean, don’t Episcopalians think he’s just toking on a reefer, eating Doritos, and he might get around to that whole salvation thing in a couple millennia, if his mom wakes him up?  Surely no honorable Methodist would think God actually meant any of that stuff about baptism, resurrection, and the end of the world.  I mean, that would so get in the way of Charlie’s Sunday morning tee time, if he had to be tithing and all that.  I honestly don’t know how Sarah held it together enough to keep from laughing, but instead she gave this reasoned (if somewhat awkward) response:

Palin: I believe that there is a plan for this world, and that plan for this world is for good.  I believe that there is great hope and great potential to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie.  And I believe those are the rights to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That, in my world view is a grand, the grand plan.

The very fact that this topic – Palin’s belief that God has a plan for the world and that she hopes it includes success for the United States in the war on terror – is a subject worth one whit of ABC’s time shows how astoundingly suspect the media has become of conservative political leaders who profess a faith.  Palin wasn’t suggesting here that she was told by God to strike down Muslims and capture the Holy Land for his flock.  She was simply imploring her church — not her state, her church — to pray for her son and his compatriots as they go to war.  This has been done by presidents, by priests, by pastors, and by plumbers for the entire history of the United States.  But for some reason, when a woman stands in a non-denominational church in Alaska and says such things, they take on implications of theocracy and tyranny that must be explored by the mainstream media.

What must not be explored by the mainstream media are the religious underpinnings of Democratic candidates’ views and plans for the country.  When Barack Obama said at Saddleback that we must heed the teachings of Matthew by “thinking about the least of these,” no reporter since has asked him if God told him to raise taxes on the rich to care for the poor, or inquired whether Matthew was speaking prescriptively about government policy or as a call to volunteerism and private charity.  When Barack Obama stands before a Pentecostal congregation and tells them that his faith plays “every role” in his life, no media have used their questions over the past year to ask if Obama’s faith would prevent him from going to war in defense of this country. When Barack Obama asks us to “pray that I can be an instrument of God” — a very valid prayer, but certainly more overtly theocratic than anything Palin said — the media talk of how refreshing it is that Democrats can take the mantle of religion away from those hatemongering Republicans.

You see, Charlie, Sarah Palin’s prayer that she might be on God’s side doesn’t really bother you and others in the media. You just can’t stand the idea that her prayers might actually be answered.

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