03 June 2008

Christians in the Oval Office

After weathering months of criticism surrounding comments by their pastor (and, more recently, comments by another Chicago priest who vocally supports Obama and vocally criticizes America), Barack & Michelle Obama have officially left Trinity UCC. Presumably, either their genuine disgust reached a tipping point, or they finally came to realize that these sorts of stories and questions are never going to go away.

In explaining the move, Senator Obama said: "What I want to do in church is I want to be able to take Michelle and my girls, sit in a pew quietly, hopefully get some nice music, some good reflection, praise God, thank Him for all of the blessings He has given our family, put some money in the collection plate, maybe afterwards go out and grab some brunch, have my girls go to Sunday school. That's what I am looking for."

I couldn't have put it better myself if I were trying to describe what most of us liberal middle class Protestants want in a church experience. The Obama campaign is in luck, because this also seems to be the type of church membership that Americans hope their President displays.

I'm sad to see the Obamas leave their church, but it should be a real wake-up call to Christians supporting political candidates (myself included): the President's first allegiance is to the nation, not to God, but the electorate and media cannot trust a candidate who has even been in the same room as someone who suggests any different allegiances. That's why the idea of a "Christian president" is dubious.

The Daily Show offered a light-hearted but incisive commentary a couple weeks ago (VIDEO):

Jon Stewart: "Why is it ok for other presidents, even other candidates in the race, to actively seek endorsements from preachers and spiritual advisers who have made equally inflammatory statements? Why is that okay?"

John Hodgman: "Well, because those candidates weren't members of those spiritual advisers' congregations. Obama actually went to church for twenty years; he listened to sermons; he got involved with the ministry. Heh. Rookie mistake. I mean, it makes you wonder if he's really the kind of Christian Americans want in the oval office."


1 comment:

John Potter said...

Props on this entry's image. I think the combination of his leaving Trinity and wearing the flag pin every day have been my biggest disappointments yet in his campaign, because they seem like an indication that he's ok with phoniness.

"A nice place to go before brunch" pretty much summarizes not wanting to be involved in a church community to the extent that it disrupts your routine, or hear anything challenging while attending. And what bothers me is I know he doesn't believe that that's all he wants the church to be in his life, or in the lives of others.

I heard Wright & Pfleger preach regularly in Chicago, and nobody flinched. What's still amazing is that someone who comes from those circles has a very good shot at being the next American President.