October 14, 2008
Obama's Religious Ruse: 'I've Always Been a Christian'
Part One of Three
Barack Obama insists that he is a "devout Christian" of "deep faith," and Big Media echoes his claim without question. Even some critics hesitate to challenge the validity of that claim.
The ruse that he is a Christian must be exposed for what it really is: Obama's cloak to conceal that he is a Marxist from a Muslim background, for which he holds widespread support in the Islamic world. This series of three articles will analyze his exploitation of Christian rhetoric to serve the subterfuge.
Obama's claim that he is a Christian coincides with his adamant denial that he was ever a Muslim. Yet his sister with whom he lived as a child has disclosed "my whole family was Muslim." His 1968 registration at a Catholic school lists him as "Barry Soetoro," a citizen of Indonesia, and his religion is Islam. He himself admits that later he studied the Koran at a public school in Jakarta. Only Muslim children studied the Koran there, and his former principal recalls that Barry studied mengaji - recitation of the Koran in Arabic, an advanced form of study.
Without intent, he corroborated this in a 2007 New York Times interview: with a first-rate Arabic accent Obama recited the opening lines of the Muslim call to prayer and remarked that it is "one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset." These lines chant the confession of faith committing one to Islam: the declaration of Allah's supremacy, that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is his prophet.
His memoir discloses that in his teens he considered becoming a Black Muslim like Malcolm X. Obama divulged this year that in 1981 he made a three-week trip to Karachi, Pakistan with Muslim friends from college, and there he became knowledgeable of Sunni and Shiite sects. Although his memoir concealed that journey, it revealed his inner state at that very time: "I had spent the summer brooding over a misspent youth ... the state of the world and the state of my soul. ‘I want to make amends,' I said. ‘Make myself of some use.'" Obama's experience with Islamic sects on that soul-searching, penitential pilgrimage preceded his radical commitment to Marxism as a student at Columbia University.
For two decades Obama was indeed a member of a "church" in Chicago, but its Marxist "theology" of Black Power, its affinities with the Nation of Islam, and having the raving malevolent Jeremiah Wright as his "spiritual mentor" make Obama's claim to be a Christian less than credible.
Confirming that Obama's "deep faith" is not Christian has been his denial that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and the supreme revelation from God for all humankind, and its corollary, his admitted skepticism about an afterlife.
The reality of Jesus' resurrection from the dead is the most basic confession of the Christian faith and has been affirmed by all Christians since the first generation as God's revelation of life everlasting. Christians call upon the name of Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord whom God vindicated to become the Savior of all peoples and to give believers eternal life. This hope is so integral to the Christian faith that the apostle Paul reasoned that conversely if resurrection is not the destiny of those who belong to the risen Christ, then Christ himself is dead, the faith has no content, and believers are not reconciled to God. "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all." Inherent in Jesus' teaching and the Christian hope is also the Jewish expectation of God's judgment of all persons, that beyond this life divine justice will reward the good and punish those who do evil.
In 2004 Obama was interviewed by Cathleen Falsani of the Chicago Sun-Times. He told her that Christians "may presume a set of doctrines" that "I don't necessarily subscribe to." Elaborating, he trivialized the core of the Christian faith by which believers live: "If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe [in] Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that's all there was to it, people wouldn't have to keep coming to church, would they." Immediately Falsani asked him if he believes in heaven, and the skeptic mocked: "Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?" "I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die," or whether rewards for one's conduct will be in this life only or in a hereafter. He identified "heaven" with feeling that he cares for his daughters and that they are learning from him his mother's values. In the same way, sin - inconsistency with his values - is "its own punishment."
Because faith perceives that which is presently unseen, all Christians struggle against weakness of faith, but Christian faith is not skeptical about the hereafter. No one who actually believes that God resurrected Jesus from death to personal immortality remains agnostic about an afterlife. Obama's skepticism on this core premise betrays his skepticism about the reality of Christ's resurrection, about the Christian faith itself.
Obama's definition of "Christian" is likewise illuminating. According to Falsani's transcript, he said:
I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith. On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. . . . intellectually, I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith. . . .So 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.
Asked if he has always been a Christian, Obama replied: "I was raised more by my mother and my mother was Christian."
In fact she was never a Christian. Her parents were skeptics, she became a Marxist while attending a high school where The Communist Manifesto was taught, and she proudly identified herself as an atheist. In a July 2008 interview, Obama admitted his mother "never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know."
Obama has variations of this ruse. MSNBC reported shortly before Christmas 2007 how he personally assured patrons at a small-town cafe that he has never been anything but a Christian, for his Muslim father was not religious and his parents had divorced. "My mother was a Christian from Kansas ... I was raised by my mother. So, I've always been a Christian." Asked for his definition of "Christian" Obama answered: "Somebody who believes in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior." "I'm so glad to hear that," the inquirer responded - being told what she hoped to hear.
At the very least Obama concealed that this definition of "Christian" never applied to his mother and his upbringing, or else "Christian" includes being an atheist or, as he described her in other accounts, an agnostic and secular humanist. Knowing that his mother was never a Christian, Obama fabricated that she was, in order to make his own claim more plausible.
Obama's mother did not believe that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth is now the risen Lord and Savior, as Christians do. According to his own testimony his mother was scornful of Bible-believing Christians, an "agnostic" and "a lonely witness for secular humanism" who defined the spiritual values that he still holds today. She "had as much influence on my values as anybody," and "my mother was a deeply spiritual person," "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person I've ever known." She was "very suspicious of the notion that one particular organized religion offered one truth," at most believing in a "higher power" common to all religions. "In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad-Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology." This may account somewhat for why Obama did not commit to Islam, despite his Muslim childhood and his later affinity for Islam.
To acquaint him with religions as diverse expressions of human culture his mother took him occasionally to church on Easter and Christmas, to a Buddhist temple, a Shintoist shrine and Hawaiian burial sites. According to Obama, "her view always was that underlying these religions were a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself but also for the greater good."
His mother died of cancer in 1995, some seven years after Obama's alleged commitment to the Christian faith. A decade later Obama ended the "Faith" chapter of his book The Audacity of Hope (2006) with an intimate account of her final days, beset with fear and apprehensive of death: "She had admitted to me during the course of her illness that she was not ready to die. . . . more than once I saw fear flash across her eyes. More than fear of pain or fear of the unknown, it was the sheer loneliness of death that frightened her." Christians might anticipate that our author will here share some words of divine care from the depth of his faith, to diminish her fear and comfort his dying mother; this is wholly absent.
As his next paragraph confirms, nearly a decade later he still had no answer even for his little daughter's question of an afterlife, telling her instead that she is too young "to worry about that," while recognizing within himself that he knows nothing more than that he hopes his mother's spirit might be in a better place. "I wondered whether I should have told [my daughter] the truth, that I wasn't sure what happens when we die, any more than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the Big Bang."
This is the confession of an agnostic materialist -- not of someone who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead, a Christian assured that not even death can separate from the Creator's love those who belong to the risen Christ. He even doubts that God pre-existed a theoretical Big Bang. Obama's inability to offer any assurance of God's care beyond death to either his dying mother or his inquiring child is due to his agnosticism. It is because he himself is an agnostic that he is skeptical of the Christian hope.
What his mother did believe is the atheism of New Age mythologist Joseph Campbell, whose work she admired, and whose influence on Obama is manifest. Campbell popularized interest in the power of myths to affect human experience and denied the Judeo-Christian tradition its historical validity. Campbell's The Power of Myth was one of her favorite texts, according to an interview in which Obama calls his mother "an agnostic," qualifying: "I think she believed in a higher power." According to Campbell, all religions are essentially the same, merely cultural variations of a common human consciousness of being alive; their myths and symbols differ only in details, and those differences are irrelevant. This is an abject rejection of the ethical monotheism of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is also a denial that God has revealed salvation for humans from all cultures by raising the crucified Jesus from the dead. It means that God has not exalted Jesus as the risen Lord, in whom people of all nations should believe.
Like his mother, Obama himself regards the Christian faith and other religions as merely vehicles for an elevating experience of human consciousness. When he reasons, "I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.... So I'm rooted in the Christian tradition," an agnostic is identifying himself with what he regards as Christian myths so that we will project that he believes as Christians do. Yet he immediately qualifies that the myths of other religions are equally valid: "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."
Thus what Obama really believes is that through religion - myths of Christian, Muslim, Hindu or animist origins - all people have in common the same higher power, which is their experience of a collective human consciousness. But this experience need not originate from religious myth: just as Obama can "be transported" by "a good choir and a good sermon in the black church," so too "I can be transported by watching a good performance of Hamlet ...or listening to Miles Davis." This is Barack Obama's "deep faith."
At the time of his 2006 book he defined himself as "Christian and skeptic." Not Christian and analytical, not Christian and inquisitive, but "Christian and skeptic." His own testimony confirms he is a "Christian" only in terms of his adopted identity, and a skeptic in regard to the core of the Christian faith, to which he at most "subscribes." Obama attests that his decision to become a member at Trinity did not remove his skepticism, but manifested an existing commitment to his prior world view. "It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear."
The lack of a dramatic conversion is common when children who had been raised by Christians but were uncommitted do commit to Christ later as adults. But that was not Obama's background, and he believes no differently than what his agnostic mother taught him as a child. The one and only difference is his current adoption of Christian identity, that the skeptic now "subscribes to" Christian verbiage.
He tells Christians that he has "a relationship with Jesus Christ," but that means he has attached himself to the christ myth. Like his mother, he scorns Christians who "cling to their religion," and he touts the depth of his skepticism as attesting his "deep faith": "I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. . . . I think religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt."
In his years as a community organizer Obama taught other activists the tactics of the Marxist agitator Saul Alinsky. One of Alinsky's tactics is to employ ridicule; here is another: "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more live up to their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity." Combining those tactics, Obama has mocked "it's doubtful that our Defense Department would survive [the Sermon on the Mount's] application." This nullification was in context of his arguments for abortion. By Obama's logic, Jesus' ethics cannot be applied socially to innocent human life because the Sermon on the Mount is not applied to defending America from those who seek to kill us.
Falsani asked Obama to identify his spiritual role model, and from his answer apparently it was not enough that for the revelation of God's kingdom and to die for others' sins Jesus went to the cross; perhaps the Senator finds Jesus too judgmental, or Jesus' faith in God too strong. For Obama's spiritual role model is not Jesus but a skeptic, Mahatma Gandhi -- "a great example of a profoundly spiritual man who acted and risked everything on behalf of those values but never slipped into intolerance or dogma. He seemed to always maintain an air of doubt about him."
From that description, one wonders if it is himself Obama seeks to emulate. Asked by Falsani to define sin, Obama replied: "Being out of alignment with my values." Asked to define when he is most centered and aligned spiritually, he answered: "I think I've already described it. It's when I'm being true to myself."
In the light of the foregoing we can better discern from Obama's statements what he actually thinks about Jesus. According to Falsani's transcript, when she asked Obama, "Who's Jesus to you?" he laughed nervously and replied: "Right. Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history."
It is understandable that Obama laughed nervously at this question, for he had to make his own view of Jesus appear Christian while knowing it is not. For him, Jesus was an historical figure who did exist and is long dead, who was a great teacher not all that unique among other faiths' venerated leaders, past and present -- Gandhi, Buddha, Muhammad, to name a few. In his mind, what distinguishes Jesus from the others is that Christian mythology regards him as "a bridge" between God and humans, therefore to Obama that myth is powerful precisely because it can be a means for reaching his own high aspirations. To quote Alinsky: "The [community] organizer is in a true sense reaching for the highest level to which man can reach -- to create, to be a ‘great creator,' to play God."
What we have here is a baptized Marxist who denies the biographical reality of his Muslim background, takes pride in his skepticism, is the center of his universe, is posing as a Christian, esteems the power of the christ myth, and seeks the most powerful position of authority in the world.
At the time of the Falsani interview Obama closely allied himself with Jeremiah Wright and Trinity United Church. But not once did Obama disclose to Falsani that his church's core is "black liberation theology" or reveal the radical content of Wright's preaching. He knows the difference between its Black Power and historic Christianity, or else he would be more candid about it. The Audacity of Hope? Obama has the audacity to claim he has always been a Christian while disbelieving the Christian hope and its foundation, the reality of Jesus' resurrection, whereby Jesus is Lord of all. His definition of "Christian" includes being an agnostic and a skeptic. Not only is he a pseudo-Christian, he's a messianic poser.
 Paul Watson, "As a Child, Obama Crossed a Cultural Divide in Indonesia," Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2007.
 An image of the 1968 form - originally published by the Associated Press, but later scrubbed - is at The Obama File.
 Kim Barker, "History of Schooling Distorted," Chicago Tribune, March 25, 2007.
 Tine Hahiyary quoted in Indonesia's Kaltim Post, January 27, 2007, English translation by Laotze, "Tracking Down Obama in Indonesia - Part 5," An American Expat in Southeast Asia, January 28, 2007.
 Nicholas D. Kristof, "Obama: Man of the World," New York Times, March 6, 2007.
 Reuven Koret, "Is Barack Obama a Muslim Wolf in Christian Wool?" Israel Insider, March 27, 2008.
 Dreams From My Fathers. A Story of Race and Inheritance (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1995), pp. 86-87.
 Mayhill Fowler, "Obama: No Need for Foreign Policy Help From V.P." The Huffington Post, April 7, 2008; Larry Rohter, "Obama Says Real-Life Experience Trumps Rivals' Foreign Policy Credits," New York Times, April 10, 2008.
 Romans 10:9; John 3:16; John 6:40. See also 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 for a summary of the resurrection faith of Jesus' disciples and the earliest Christians.
 Citations of Falsani's March 27, 2004 interview are from the full transcript now on her blog. Her published account was "Obama: I Have a Deep Faith," Chicago Sun-Times, April 5, 2004.
 Paul's converts from paganism at Thessalonica were anxious about the fate of deceased Christians only because they lacked comprehension of their new resurrection faith. Paul assured them that Christ's resurrection was for the benefit of those who believe that God raised him from the dead, that they too may rise to life and be with him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10).
 Tim Jones, "Barack Obama: Mother Not Just a Girl From Kansas," Chicago Tribune, March 27, 2007.
 Lisa Miller and Richard Wolffe, "Finding His Faith," Newsweek, July 12, 2008.
 Aswini Anburajan, "Obama Asked About Connection to Islam," MSNBC First Read, December 22, 2007, italics supplied.
 The Audacity of Hope. Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006), p. 203.
 "Transcript of Obama's Remarks at San Francisco Fundraiser Sunday," Time, April 11, 2008.
 Rules for Radicals. A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York: Random House, 1971), p. 128.