Obama melds church and state for health care reform
Desperate to promote his government health care insurance bills, the usual Democratic scruples of separation of religion and state disappeared Wednesday as President Barack Obama (D) spoke via conference call to thousands of religious leaders, clergy and other religious activists affiliated with over 30 liberal religious institutions including the National Baptist Convention, Sojourners, the United Church of Christ (the Obama family attended a member church in Chicago for over 20 years until their withdrawal last year because of the controversial pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright), and others.
Jake Tapper and Karen Travers of ABC News report on Obama's religious angle to his version of government supported health insurance change.
"You've heard that this is a government takeover of health care," the president said. "That's not true. You've heard that this is all going to...mean government funding of abortion. Not true."
Mr. Obama said these claims were "fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation, and that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call."
And how does Obama think his religious listeners can help?
Mr. Obama called on the religious leaders to help him share the good word about health care reform and set the record straight.
"I need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors. I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth," he said.
As individuals, certainly the clergy have the same right to express their opinions, or "spread the facts" as Obama calls it, by knocking on doors, speaking to their neighbors. But using tax exempt religious institutions to promote political activity is definitely not separation of religion and state. Will the ACLU jump in to protest?
Countering Obama's call, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released this statement.
"President Obama was hoping to be on offense during the month of August to travel the country and put on the hard sell for government-run health care," the statement read. "Instead, President Obama is frantically struggling to shore up his base. The religious left talks about their desire for 'social justice.' No bill that funds abortion or strips health care services away from seniors and low-income Americans can or should be considered just, and that is precisely what the president's plan does."