Saturday, August 25, 2007

Obama: Muslim or Christian


Not long ago I started seeing blogs with political cartoons that suggest that Barak Obama is Muslim. I would think this would be discussed in the mainstream media as well in the blogosphere so it bore checking out. According to the The Caucus, a NY Times political blog, Obama is a Christian and attends Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 West 95th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628. Their worship center is the photo above.

I'm not saying that Obama and I would agree on everything doctrinally, but if he claims the name of Christ, I will take him at his word that he is a Christian. Then dialog starts with agreement that Christ is God incarnate, that God is three in one, that sin is our most fundamental problem and the atoning sacrifice of Christ is the solution. It seems less than generous to label Obama a Muslim because his father was a Muslim. It appears to be a ploy to discourage voter enthusiasm for Obama given that Islam is not the mainstream religion. Perhaps those making this claim are latching onto the fact that Obama's father was Muslim and then later became an atheist. Obama as far as I can tell claims the name of Christ.

Unlike other countries of the world, the US has no religious identity recorded by the federal government as an official status. Religion is not built into our political system but it is a component of our social fabric. Many take this to mean that ecumenical agreement is the religion of the US, which of course is still simply choosing one religion over another. The rules of how various religions participate in the social fabric are changing with the rub of new situations, new religious ideas, and new doctrines. The concept of the dominate religion of the culture is hotly debated in civic tones. The key concept in this debate for many secular thinkers is that there is no dominate religion, we have freedom of religion in the US. And for many, this has changed from freedom of religion to being free from religion even in the expression of others. In essence this becomes a religious idea in and of itself. Many of my fellow Christians feel that Christianity is the dominate religion of the US but others are free to practice their own religion too. I would see both ideas as flawed because Christ says that His kingdom is not of this world. He transcends earthly, human government. While some Islamic thinkers do have the goal of gaining a political position for Islam, to be fair some Muslims are closer to deists in their thought. So, Islamic thinkers have a similar spectrum of thinkers as does mainstream America, some seeking religious domination while others seek broad agreement. As Christians, since Christ Kingdom is not of this world, how do we vote for people with different religious views? I think we can all pray for national leaders regardless of religious affiliation, but how do we vote? Should I vote for someone as an olive branch to heal racial strife in the land? (I do see race relations as an important moral issue, but should I vote that way? I have an African-American friend who will probably vote for Obama because they are from the same "community".) I think as Christians we often need to practice the same types of service as Daniel who refused to engage in false worship, served a dominate government which oppressed his people the Jews, and was faithful to seek God above all else. I still don't think this tells me how to vote, but the goal is not to dominate the culture. Participate in the political process? YES. But should I vote for someone who may choose to put the church of Jesus Christ in a lesser position in society? Should I vote to be dominated? It is one issue among many that has to be weighed in choosing a candidate.
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