Obama's phony faith

Barack Obama routinely laced his campaign speeches with words and phrases that resonated with voters, particularly those who practiced their faith more often than others in the body politic.

His outreach to the Christian community became more fervent after the scandal caused by his ties to Pastor Jeremiah Wright who used his pulpit to bully and disparage America. Barack Obama attended forums held by the evangelical leader Rick Warren. He was seen in the company of a variety of Christian leaders. His courtship of religious groups in the 2008 race - the most extensive ever by a Democratic candidate for president-paid off on election day.

But that was so 2008. The campaign is over-and so, seemingly, is his embrace of Christianity.

[S] since President Obama took office a year ago, his faith has largely receded from public view. He has attended church in the capital only four times, and worshiped half a dozen times at a secluded Camp David chapel. He prays privately, reads a "daily devotional'' that aides send to his BlackBerry, and talks to pastors by phone, but seldom frames policies in spiritual terms.

...the shift has drawn notice from some religious leaders and political analysts, who say it opens Obama to questions of sincerity and threatens his support among the religious voters his campaign helped peel away from the Republican Party.

"You can't be using the church just to get elected and then push the church to the side,'' said the Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, a prominent Chicago pastor who had campaigned for Obama among Hispanic evangelicals, many of whom had voted in earlier elections for George W. Bush. "If the president says he's Christian, then in his narrative, and in his speeches and in his life, that should be displayed.''

The White House is spinning the issue: promoting the view that Barack Obama is engaging in personal spiritual reflection, privately at a secluded Camp David chapel, and daily devotionals sent to his ever-present Blackberry. All unverifiable.

Recall, this is the president who disparaged Americans who "cling to religion" and patronized a church whose pastor spewed anger. He did not help matters when he called for "open minds" on the abortion debate at the commencement address he delivered at Notre Dame. But he was already President by then. He also had talked about the risk of letting the evangelical right "hijack" religion for public ends.

Americans are catching the drift though. The dream is over and the scales have been removed from their eyes. This turn will not help Democrats.

A poll last August by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life indicated that the proportion of Americans who saw the Democratic Party as friendly to religion had dropped to Bush-era levels, at 29 percent, after peaking at 38 percent at the height of the Obama campaign a year earlier.

One can compare his façade of being a religious man with George Bush's authentic embrace of religion. As one pastor commented, "George Bush did not hide his faith. He was a man of prayer, whether you supported him or not".

Perhaps, Barack Obama - as the founder of his own religion, as a "sort of God" himself - just sees no reason to revere another figure or embrace a religion. He used religion for political ends; it served its purpose; and now he can just Move On because there is no use in "clinging to God" anymore.