Remind Me Again, Which Party is Skeptical of the President's Religion?
President Obama has said on several occasions that his views on gay marriage are "constantly evolving." This strikes me as a curious choice of words. Most people use the word "evolve" to indicate a change associated with some sort of growth or development. And while it's true that Obama's views on gay marriage have been changing, I doubt that this change has been progressing in the direction his supporters have in mind.
Obama first went on record on the subject back in 1996, when he supported legalizing gay marriage. This was even before it had become a mainstream Democratic Party platform. Since then, his views on the subject have in fact begun to "evolve." In 2004, Obama backed off his support of gay marriage, on which he became undecided, and instead favored civil unions. By the time his presidential campaign rolled around in 2008, Obama unequivocally opposed legalizing gay marriage. If his views were to continue to evolve in this same direction we can expect him to begin opposing same-sex civil unions any day now.
None of this is to suggest that we should actually expect Obama to move even further away from supporting gay marriage. It simply demonstrates that Obama hasn't given his supporters any reason to believe that he will ever come around to supporting gay marriage. Taking Obama at his word means believing that he sincerely opposes legalizing gay marriage. Luckily for Obama, none of his supporters actually believe him when he claims his views are evolving. Obama's position on gay marriage is one of those rare instances where liberals choose to believe in intelligent design instead of evolution.
To be sure, Obama's supporters not only assume that it's a given that he will ultimately support legalizing gay marriage, they are completely certain that he already does. To them, the whole "evolving views" explanation is a charade; nothing more than a carefully designed response to avoid alienating a large segment of the population. His supporters describe this evolution as "pretend" or "pure politics." Surely, a man they so admire couldn't really hold such antiquated views. Many liberal pundits openly predict that Obama will declare his support of gay marriage soon after the 2012 election. In other words his supporters believe that he is being dishonest as a political strategy. Does it bother them at all to believe that the man they so respect is engaging in such naked political opportunism? Not at all. They mostly find it amusing, since it's for the greater good, or something.
This skepticism by liberals towards Obama's views on gay marriage is noteworthy for two reasons. For one, liberals are generally pretty adamant that all of Obama's stated views reflect his genuine beliefs and politics. They reject any suggestion that Obama secretly holds positions that are more leftwing than he lets on and that he will move to the left if he wins reelection. This line of argument must slip their minds when they are openly proclaiming that Obama is waiting until the second term to reverse his stance on gay marriage.
But the primary reason why this skepticism is so remarkable is because Obama's views on gay marriage are based on his religious beliefs. According to his own words it's a "religious issue." More specifically, in 2008 he told Rick Warren "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian ... it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix." That's a fair enough explanation. After all, Obama frequently brings up his Christianity, and the teachings of Jesus, so this shouldn't surprise anyone. This isn't to say that there aren't individuals who don't believe supporting gay marriage conflicts with their Christian beliefs; just that Obama happens to not be one of these individuals. And if there is any group that should not be surprised that Obama's position is informed by his religion, it's liberals. Indeed, one of the most often repeated arguments for legalizing gay marriage is the claim that the only possible motive for opposing it is religion.
So when liberals chose not to believe that Obama truly opposes legalizing gay marriage they are also questioning his religious beliefs. But how can this be? After all, liberals have informed us how incredibly insulting and borderline insane it is to even raise any doubts about the president's religious convictions. We are constantly reminded of this every other month when the mainstream media trots out yet another poll on whether American are skeptical of Obama's stated religious beliefs (not to mention the heavy dose of righteous indignation that accompanies these polls). But here we are with the entire liberal punditry in agreement that our president is full of bunk when he tells us, time and time again, that he does not support legalizing gay marriage. In this case, I guess, it is completely acceptable to question the president's religious beliefs. Suddenly, the very assertion that is consistently referred to as a kooky conspiracy theory becomes a respectable and informed view.
All this raises the question: Precisely how deep does this skepticism runs in liberal circles? We know Obama's supporters don't believe that he is sincere when he professes his religious views on gay marriage. We also know they don't believe that the church Obama attended for over 20 years represents his true views. So do they believe anything about Obama's religious beliefs or do they think, just as they do with gay marriage, that it's all simply political opportunism? Perhaps these are questions that can be asked the next time the media runs one of those polls on Obama's religious beliefs. We haven't had any of these polls for a couple weeks so we should be due for another one pretty soon.