Obama, Marx, and God

Paul J. Shlichta
If a man says something once, it may just be a slip of the tongue. If he repeats the same phrase over and over again, he may believe it or he may be shamelessly propagandizing. But if he repeats the same idea in different words throughout his life, it is probably something he really believes.

All of us are by now painfully familiar with Senator Obama's analysis of rural mentality:

"...they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

But it isn't the first time that he has said this. According to the New Yorker ,  

In November, 2004, Senator-elect Barack Obama told Charlie Rose that hunting and church provide solace to men like the laid-off factory workers he met in a small Illinois town.

And as the New Yorker article goes on to say:

As Democratic political analysis, what he said is hardly new. Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? is a book-length exposition of Obama's one sentence. In fact, it's such a familiar line of thinking in liberal circles that the most common defense of Obama is that he was simply saying what everyone knows is so.

So I think that we can conclude that Obama, like most liberal Democrats, really believes that religion is primarily a solace for economic insecurity.

However, as the house boy said to the missionary, we Christians don't believe in that sort of thing. The Christian idea is that religion---our relation to God and, through God, to each other--- is the core of our existence and that our economic security (or our lack of it) is merely a circumstance to be dealt with in terms of our relation to God. As St. Ignatius  of Loyola put it,

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul...For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things...so that we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty ... choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

In contrast, Karl Marx agreed wholeheartedly with Senator Obama. He said, flatly, that "religion is the opium of the masses." But that doesn't make Obama a Marxist; the philosophers of classical capitalism said pretty much the same thing. This is why two Catholic popes, Leo XIII and Pius XI, have condemned both socialism and capitalism for considering man as  merely an economic entity rather than a human or spiritual one.

So Obama's remark doesn't mean he's a Marxist. But he isn't a Christian either, not in any reasonable sense of the word. The church he has faithfully attended for decades, Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, seems to be much more preoccupied with racist politics than with Jesus. And numerous Christian leaders have denounced Obama as a false Christian.

Therefore, the next time Obama says, as he has said:

"I am a Christian.... So, I have a deep faith. I'm rooted in the Christian tradition."

just write it off as a politician on the make, trying to be all things to all voters and displaying what might be called "crocodile piety".
If a man says something once, it may just be a slip of the tongue. If he repeats the same phrase over and over again, he may believe it or he may be shamelessly propagandizing. But if he repeats the same idea in different words throughout his life, it is probably something he really believes.

All of us are by now painfully familiar with Senator Obama's analysis of rural mentality:

"...they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

But it isn't the first time that he has said this. According to the New Yorker ,  

In November, 2004, Senator-elect Barack Obama told Charlie Rose that hunting and church provide solace to men like the laid-off factory workers he met in a small Illinois town.

And as the New Yorker article goes on to say:

As Democratic political analysis, what he said is hardly new. Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? is a book-length exposition of Obama's one sentence. In fact, it's such a familiar line of thinking in liberal circles that the most common defense of Obama is that he was simply saying what everyone knows is so.

So I think that we can conclude that Obama, like most liberal Democrats, really believes that religion is primarily a solace for economic insecurity.

However, as the house boy said to the missionary, we Christians don't believe in that sort of thing. The Christian idea is that religion---our relation to God and, through God, to each other--- is the core of our existence and that our economic security (or our lack of it) is merely a circumstance to be dealt with in terms of our relation to God. As St. Ignatius  of Loyola put it,

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul...For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things...so that we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty ... choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

In contrast, Karl Marx agreed wholeheartedly with Senator Obama. He said, flatly, that "religion is the opium of the masses." But that doesn't make Obama a Marxist; the philosophers of classical capitalism said pretty much the same thing. This is why two Catholic popes, Leo XIII and Pius XI, have condemned both socialism and capitalism for considering man as  merely an economic entity rather than a human or spiritual one.

So Obama's remark doesn't mean he's a Marxist. But he isn't a Christian either, not in any reasonable sense of the word. The church he has faithfully attended for decades, Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, seems to be much more preoccupied with racist politics than with Jesus. And numerous Christian leaders have denounced Obama as a false Christian.

Therefore, the next time Obama says, as he has said:

"I am a Christian.... So, I have a deep faith. I'm rooted in the Christian tradition."

just write it off as a politician on the make, trying to be all things to all voters and displaying what might be called "crocodile piety".