Is Barack Obama a Christian? a Muslim? an Etruscan vase given life and human form by some forgotten Egyptian deity? Well, whatever.
I’m not religious about my atheism, and I have no particular quarrel with religious people other than the ones who show up uninvited on my stoop, and even then I feel no compulsion to shoot or exorcise them, or strip them naked and clothe them in a cloak of many colors except made from Martha Stewart designer paints instead of cloth. As if I could afford that anyway. Although I would certainly consider it on a consensual basis, if anyone into that sort of thing has me on their address list.
Drop me a note and a recent photo; we’ll “talk.”
Obviously organized religion has been a wonderful tool for people who require an aroused citizenry to carry out their predatory wishes. “Mammon wants it!” would probably have been a much less effective rallying cry than the one widely used throughout the various Crusades—”God Wills It!” People want a cause, people want something in which to believe, and when the powers that be can unify the longings of their constituents in service to the particular wickedness at hand, well, then, everyone is happy.
So, sure, many bad things have been done in the name of religion. Many bad things have been done in the name of Fred, too, and probably most other names. Democracy comes to mind; so do the myriad isms. So does Barack.
Lots of people are all agog about recent polls indicating that in the neighborhood of 20%-25% of Americans think Obama adheres to Islam. “Mohammed loves him, this I know/Because my Twitter told me so.”
Among the agog are the good people at Politifact, a service of the good people at the St. Pete Times, a newspaper in which I believe because it supports the good people at the not-for-profit Poynter Institute, who also employ Jim Romenesko, a link to whom you’ll find over there on the right sidebar. Romenesko is the god of press industry memos.
Politifact is at some pains to debunk that belief, again. They say he is a Christian and set out to prove it, an endeavor that is really beyond the purview of any organization with “fact” in its name, but one they nevertheless embark upon enthusiastically. “Rally to the cause of truth, as we’re pretty sure of it!”
PolitiFact has done extensive fact-checking on Obama’s faith and has debunked false claims in chain e-mails that he attended a radical Islamic school, that his political rise mirrored a biblical tale about the Antichrist, and that he took the oath for U.S. Senate on a Koran. All three earned our lowest rating, Pants on Fire.
Our fact-checking also showed clear evidence that Obama is a Christian. According to the president’s memoirs and independent biographies, Obama was not raised in any particular faith. He became a Christian when he was in his 20s while working as a community organizer in Chicago. Obama said the churches there impressed him with their commitment to social justice and the hope they gave to the poor.
Good for Politifact. They’ve entered a realm traditionally held by God and The Shadow, and made it their own.
Two things, here, the first of which is that the percentage of people who think Obama is a Muslim is remarkably low in light of the energy invested in pushing the theory. It’s about the same percentage of people who when polled in early 2009 thought George W. Bush was a good president. It’s just the traditional “complete fucking morons” baseline, below which the numbers never fall. Nothing really to see here, but “[t]he members of the public who say he is a Muslim … are wrong, and we rate their statement Pants on Fire!”
Srsly? “Pants on Fire?” With an exclamation point? If I didn’t believe so strongly in the St. Pete Times, I would be gravely disappointed.
The other point is that if Obama is a Christian, he’s a really fucking awful one. About the only Biblical principle he seems to have internalized is the first half of “Render unto Caesar …” For the rest, as we here at BTC News World Headquarters never tire of noting, he’s completely down with the slaughtering of innocents and buggering of the poor and so on. He might send a buggered beggar out for a pedicure if there were some good PR in it, but he won’t be wandering Skid Row looking for feet to lave. Never send a President to do a Predator’s job.
So, lost in the debate over something no one can actually prove is the question of whether or not Obama is true to his religion, which no matter what he’s supposed to be, he is not.
Politifact says that he “regularly seeks spiritual guidance from a group of pastors and called them recently from Air Force One for a prayer session, according to an account in the Washington Post,” and that “[l]ast week, when the Pew poll was released, presidential aides said Obama remains a practicing Christian and prays daily.”
This means that Obama practices the same religion as his immediate predecessor. No doubt that’s why the two administrations are so similar in many respects. Bush prayed, and Obama prays, for the Lord to give him strength to blow up a bunch of what look like motherfuckers from the presidential prayer rug, and their wives and children, in the sacred name of peace—for which, if we recall correctly, he won a Prize.
The cheat sheet for Today in Religious Studies: If Obama says he’s a Christian, then he may as well be. He still has to wipe the blood from his fangs just like the rest of us.