Sermon from Mt. Obama Raises Big Questions

Barack Obama has expounded his revised standard version of the Sermon on the Mount, and he has applied it to politics. Questions abound that Hillary Clinton can't ask because she's virtually joined to his theological/political hip. And until John McCain kicks his current warm and fuzzy mode, don't expect any tough stuff from the loyal opposition. Then there's the MSM, which couldn't care less if Obama waxes theological from here to eternity.

As long as the revised Jesus doesn't meddle in what's naughty or nice, what's to worry? For the MSM and the liberal blogosphere, Obama isn't a religious extremist who wants to impose God's standards on America, as they claimed about Mike Huckabee:

On the slim chance there's a fair and balanced MSM reporter, columnist, debate moderator or news anchor willing, how about asking Obama some follow-up questions?

    At a town hall meeting in Ohio, you said that government should sanction homosexual civil unions:

“I don't think it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.” (See Robert Knight's “Clueless in Obama Nation” .)

According to Cathleen Falsani, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter who interviewed you when you were running for the U.S. Senate in 2004, you said:

“I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate.”

How do you reconcile using Christ to justify government sanctioned benefits and rights for homosexual civil unions when you condemned such rationalizing?

And how do you reconcile it with your speech to the “Call to Renewal's Building a Covenant for a New America” conference in June 2006, in which you argued against using such religion-specific values as a basis for public policy?

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

If a law banning abortion must explain “why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faith, including those with no faith at all,” doesn't the converse require explanation?  In other words, why don't you have to explain your support for legalized abortion by “some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all”?

Why shouldn't we expect your advocacy for legalizing homosexual unions to be explained by “some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all,” rather than your interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount?

    You told Falsani that politicians can't use their religion to hide from criticism and questions:

Obama also said: “I don't think it's healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.”

If I heard you correctly, you expected to get some heat for talking about your religious beliefs. You said:

“The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is,” he told Falsani.

Since you've opened the door and showed us your spiritual sleeve, let's have some “dialogue” about some specifics:

    You spent an hour as a candidate for the Senate telling Falsani about your “deep faith”:

“So, I have a deep faith,” Obama continues. “I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.

Your roots have apparently wandered. Falsani recognized that your theology contradicts Christ's words:

It's perhaps an unlikely theological position for someone who places his faith squarely at the feet of Jesus to take, saying essentially that all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God.

That depends, Obama says, on how a particular verse from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me,” is heard.

If Jesus didn't express Himself clearly enough for you on a matter as grave as eternal salvation, what makes you think you've heard Him clearly on anything else?

    Joshua DuBois, your campaign director of religious affairs, said about you:

“He believes that the golden rule in Matthew 7:12 still applies in politics; it's the rule on which he bases his life.”

Christ concluded the Golden Rule with “for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

So how do you reconcile Christ's condemnation of homosexual conduct in the Law and the Prophets with using Him as a mandate for government endorsement?

    So you aren't able to take Christ's words according to their plain and ordinary meaning, but you are able to hear a special interpretation that millions have missed?

    Don't they teach statutory construction at Harvard Law? You know, that “one cardinal canon” as the Supremes put it: “Courts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there.” Surely Jesus spoke as clearly as any legislature.

    Where in the original Sermon on the Mount or any other Scripture do you hear any words that support your position on abortion?

    Why doesn't your hearing of the Golden Rule's “do unto others” include protecting the unborn from government-sanctioned slaughter?

    If I've heard you correctly, you want government-mandated universal health care. Why then, when you were in the Illinois Senate, did you refuse to support a law that would have required hospitals and doctors to provide medical care for babies who survive abortion? How universal is that?

    In your interview with Falsani, you also contradicted Jesus on the subject of hell, and expressed your uncertainty about going to heaven:

“The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they're going to hell.”

“Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he's not sure if he'll be going to heaven, either.”

According to Jesus:

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Matt. 5:30 (Sermon on the Mount)

Since you haven't heard Jesus clearly on the subject of hell, why do you think you've heard Him correctly about whether heaven exists?

    Since you think we can't be sure if we've heard Jesus correctly, how can we possibly be sure that we've heard your campaign promises correctly?

    Finally, one for the media: Why is your scrutiny of a politician who runs with religion on his sleeve reserved solely for those who follow the real Jesus who said what He means and means what He said?

Jan LaRue is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Culture and Media Institute.