Given a political problem that began with the words of Barack Obama’s pastor, Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech of March 18 had little to do with religion. The troubling comments of Jeremiah Wright, some of which I’ve reviewed, were typical of the far left, but they had nothing to do with religion. Yet the comments that Obama did make about religion are worth a look.
For what it’s worth, I thought Obama’s speech was masterful. The people still mad about his affiliation with Wright never would have voted for Obama, anyway.
I was surprised to hear Obama make such a strong statement regarding the motives of terrorism in the Middle East:
[Wright’s view wrongly] sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
After describing where Wright went wrong, Obama then discusses what he appreciates about the man:
[Wright] is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth — by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Obviously if people want to voluntarily care for the sick, the poor, and people with disease, they are free to do so. But Obama believes that these Christian policies should be imposed through political force. He named four main policy issues in the speech: health care, education, jobs, and the war. His policies are typical of the left; he wants to expand federal political control of health care, education, and employment, even though existing political controls are the cause of problems in those areas. (Obama’s plan to socialize medicine would disproportionately harm the very people he claims to chamption.) For decades the left has been promoting what is essentially a secularized and coercive version of the Christian ethos. The only difference with Obama is that he is explicit about the religious connection.
Nevertheless, the policies that Obama promotes, however much they violate individual rights and economic liberty, remain separable from religion. That’s more than can be said for some of the policies that John McCain endorses.