Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Religion and Politics

Its interesting watching the US primaries as the parties select their candidates for President. Religion plays a big part for people. So, with Obama polling well in South Carolina midst a black population who some said wouldn't turn out for him, where exactly does he stand on issues of faith?



BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE TRY THE POLL TO YOUR RIGHT - TEST YOUR OWN PERCEPTION OF HOW THE MEDIA HAS PORTRAYED THIS.



Its true, Obama's father was a Muslim from Kenya. And yup his middle name is Hussein! Really it is. He was born in Hawaii though so he really is American. But he spent 4 years in Indonesia, that hot bed of Islam, when he was young.



His father however died in 1982 and Obama only saw him once after age 2 when his parents separated. But he wasn't raised in a religious household.



But here's what he said recently to Christianity Today:



I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn't 'fall out in church' as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn't want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.



Makes for fascinating reading, especially in light of the Muslim rumours and email campaigns...



Wouldn't mind that kind of choice here in NZ...

30 comments:

servant said...

I've been giving Obama the big thumbs up since he announced he would run for President.

Oprah's endorsement of him almost made me change my mind...

Interestingly, Tony Campolo's wife is good friends with Hillary Clinton, so Tony was saying good things about her last time we spoke ;)

Rhett said...

I've been following the Primaries quite closely - it's completely fascinating. I really like Obama; if it's between him and Clinton, I'd hope Obama gets in, for no other reason than I don't think it would be healthy for another political dynasty to govern the US.

Looking at each candidate's policies (on the CNN Politics website) I found things worth cheering for with every candidate, as well as things worth booing. I am relieved that I will never have to vote in a US election. As you once so eloquently put it to me over coffee Brett, the choice could be reduced to, 'Do I vote for the party that kills babies, or the party which kills Iraqis'?

I like Huckabee, he seems like my kind of guy (he played bass on 'Devil With a Blue Dress' on a late night show - and he's a pastor!), but his economic policy is woeful. Out of all th Republicans, policy-wise I like McCain. Maybe thats because he is the least like a Republican.

Unfortunately, he also looks like a shark. That's not to say he IS a shark, just that, facially, he looks a lot like one. Seriously. Especially when he smiles.

But again, I'm glad I can be a spectator rather than actually have to vote, because I'd be in moral stasis. Whatever the case - hey, at least Bush is going. I sense the cloud of gloom starting to lift.

Rhett said...

Oh and I read a bit about Obama and religion; there was some controversy as while back because the pastor at Obama's church (who is influenced by liberation theology) made a statement along the lines of, 'a white person cannot grasp the Jesus story the way a black person can.'

But Muslim? I dunno where that came from.

servant said...

The Muslim idea comes from his family history. It's propaganda designed to play on American fear. It's simply a smear campaign.

KarenH said...

Of course, religion IS politics in America, perhaps in the same way in which religion IS culture in, say, Asia or the Middle East. There is always plenty of cultural religion going around, particularly in an election year, and the chameleon effect is demonstrated with as little subtlety as Hillary's altered accent when she heads down South. This, of course, is quite the antithesis of New Zealand, where politicians appear to eschew both culture and religion in favour of a peculiar, de-contextualised sort of government which is resigned to floating around somewhere in the economic sphere.

I confess I am intrigued, Rhett, by your stated relief that you don't have to vote in the US election, and am curious as to how you came by that kind of grateful abdication. Is it because issues of life and death are largely absent from a New Zealand general election - eg. to refer to the babies/Iraqis comparison: no one really talks about abortion (at least, not 10 years ago) and no one really goes to war? Although perhaps the anti-smacking debacle may be unveiling a proud taste for freedom and self-determination that NZers as a whole didn't know they had...

As for Bush, I like him; and I'd be interested to hear why you do not...

KarenH said...

Regarding Obama, here's some more information on the allegations and truth about his background and beliefs.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/muslim.asp

BJ said...

Funny I'd come across that Snopes reference the other day tracking something else. I'm reassured at least the educated readers of this blog (mostly) have the right story with Obama. Although that there's 5 of you surprises me!

I won't speak for Rhett but I think you're right Karen that the life and death issues are mostly not debated here. And even the smacking legislation, which was justified by constant references to child abuse, was really just an ideological exercise. There is no anti abortion party that is credible. No death penalty.

I like what Obama says in the Christianity Today interview when he asks whether anyone is ever really FOR abortion. That's a subtley that is often lost in the "its the woman's body" rhetoric.

And to unite the last 2 posts, its vaguely ironic that in NZ, we are happy to give parents the right to kill their unborn children but curtail what some would claim as a right in relation to physical discipline of children by parents.

KarenH said...

Yes, you'd think the irony would be obvious -- but it leaves me thinking more about Ephesians and principalities and powers and darkened minds. Ya know?

KarenH said...

And while I'm still mulling this over, there is a certain implied --what would you call? almost a sensitive tenderness in the statement that "no one is ever really FOR abortion." I suppose it's just that it registers higher or lower on a list of priorities. Francis Schaeffer might say that the fact it's even on the list at all is evidence of the Great Evangelical Disaster. (Have you heard Evangelicals blame themselves for Roe vs. Wade?) How far have we come from the child sacrifices of Roman days?

PS> That's a rhetorical question, by the way :-) I've seen what you guys can do with provocative issues, a sprinkling of history, and too much time on your hands...!

BJ said...

Thats the young fullas :) I actually am busy!

Drop me a mail sometime bj@cession.org.nz - I'm not sure I have a current one for you.

Incidentally, the Romans themselves did not sacrifice children that commonly. Roman historians did write about it quite a lot accusing their enemies of doing so (eg Carthage). But as these were enemies, there is at least some risk that the histories were revisionist in nature...

Oh that's right it was rhetorical...

KarenH said...

I didn't think you'd be able to leave a reference to the Romans alone...!

Actually, I was refering to the custom of presenting a newborn child to the father, who decided if it was to be nurtured or discarded.

Ken said...

brett, i believe obama will be our next president. to many americans, he represents significant change on a variety of levels. whether that's true or not once he takes office remains to be seen, but i believe he will be 44th president of the united states.

servant said...

Here's hoping you're right Ken.

How good would it be for America to have an African American president!

Rhett said...

After I read he was interested, I have always hoped the first black president of the US would be Will Smith. :-)

BJ said...

How good would it be for New Zealand to have a Maori Prime Minister?

servant said...

That would be fabulous!

Of course, it's all about policy as well... the fact that I like Obama's approach to politics makes it easier to get excited about the possibility.

Rhett said...

"How good would it be for New Zealand to have a Maori Prime Minister?"

...Winston.

servant said...

...Sharples

...Tamihere!!!

Rhett said...

Tame Iti! (sic?)

KarenH said...

Rhett and Frank --

Would you vote for Obama?

Here's a pretty rigorous quiz matching your opinions with the candidates'...

http://www.wqad.com/Global/link.asp?L=259460

KarenH said...

Use any zip code -- ours is 80132 if you want that one.

BJ said...

That's a fun quiz - unfortunately Clinton and Obama were a dead heat...and all the things I agreed on, they also agreed on! Unsurprisingly, I leaned heavily Democrat. My favourite Republican was Huckabee.

servant said...

Barack and Hillary came out tops for me as well, with a score of 46 each. The next was Mike Gravel on 34.

Bottom of my list was Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee on 9 each.

I've done a few of those tests and either Hillary or Barack have ended up at the top each time.

Rhett said...

Clinton topped mine, with Obama second, then Gravel, then Huckabee. The lowest was McCain.

Good quiz...

Karen, to answer your question, I don't know, which is why I'm glad I don't have to vote. I like Obama the most as a person, but the abortion issue would be one of the keys for me and I don't know if I could cross that line. But if it's gonna be a Democrat, I'd favour Obama.

servant said...

I forgot to say if I would vote for him.

Answer - Yes.

KarenH said...

Thanks, fellas, for humoring me - as a Kiwi living in the USA I'm experiencing a nostalgic hunger for some kiwi opinion.

One more question, then: in a country (here) where evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly Republican, what is it that draws you to the Democratic ticket?

EdBob said...

We would be glad to send you Hillary, but it would be pretty much what you already have....

EdBob said...

Yup,

I just scanned down to read the Jan 29th entry and found my comment confirmed...Hillary's soul sister is already in charge of NZ

BJ said...

Scientific Poll result:

75% of Jonesboy readers believe Obama is a Christian.

12% think he is a Buddhist or a Muslim

12% are Agnostic

Where did the 1% go?

BJ said...

Its getting close:

Clinton: 1,148

Obama: 1,121

Just 27 delegates in it...