The Progressive Christian Case for Barack Obama

A lot can be said for the power of the Religious Right in influencing political campaigns. Imagine if the Religious Left could do the same.

bpkybe at Raising Kaine makes “the Progressive Christian Case for Obama“:

Christian Democrats fear that by wearing their faith on their sleeves, they will be be painted by their fellow progressives with the same brush as the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons of the world. This is, I believe, the real shame of our “big tent” of a party.

… only Senator Obama offers the possibility of an America which can put aside ideological differences from time to time and work for the common good. Most importantly, as a Progressive Christian, I believe Senator Obama, who is a devout member of the United Church of Christ, will be a President who has the ability and inspirational leadership to create an America where people of all faiths will really and truly be welcomed with open arms into the Democratic Party.

In an America with a President Obama, I see the possibility that we can all, Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian, pro-choice or pro-life, gay or straight, Christian, Muslim, Jew, or atheist, finally set aside our relatively small differences and work together to, as St. Chrysostom said so many years ago, put our emphasis first and foremost on caring for our neighbors.

Needless to say, I’m more excited about Super Tuesday than the Super Bowl.

Barack Obama is *so* much more exciting to watch than Tom Brady.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton[/tags]

  • Nick

    Of course, on the non-progressive side of religion, I have friends whose parents have told them not to vote for Barack on the grounds that it would hasten the apocalypse.

    I’m hazy on details, but it was something along the lines of “a dark man ruling the world” — I assume the relevant verse is from Revelations.

    Personally, I’m all for him. Go Obama!

  • Karen

    I loved the fact that Obama specifically included “atheists” in his message of inclusion he gave at Ebenezer Baptist Church (Dr. King’s church) in Atlanta on MLK day.

  • http://www.atwks.blogspot.com Flora

    I was going to go for Hillary, but after hearing what Barack wants to do for MY people, the Armenians, I felt obliged to go for Barack. He truly knows what the Armenian community wants, and he will see to it that we lose our sense of isolation.

    LONG LIVE BARACK, FUTURE PRESIDENT OF THE USA!

  • Aj

    Obama seems to support the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge and faith-based iniatives, while saying he stands for the separation of church and state. That’s awful, if he’s the best candidate there’s something desperately wrong.

    The cost of a Republican president, especially an anti-evolution, anti-separation, ignorant of science president could be high, especially given the condition of the supreme court. I think “anyone but a Republican” has got to by the cry of secularists.

    On the Religious Left, I see faith-based decision making as inherently dangerous, and likely to lead to bad consequences. Democrats mistrust in Christians is completely justified when this is what they say about themselves:

    …there are Progressive Christians abound, but how are we supposed to communicate OUR faith and values…

    As someone who’s progressive beliefs are ENTIRELY guided by my faith

    …I saw someone whos ideology reflected the ideals of my faith.

    Most importantly, as a Progressive Christian, I believe Senator Obama, who is a devout member of the United Church of Christ…

  • Mriana

    The religious left won’t back anyone. Rev. Barry Lynn of the Americans United and Welton Gaddy, Pres of the Interfaith Alliance, won’t hear of it. They believe in a VERY strong separation of Church and State. One of them got up in arms because a church did try to declare support of a canidate. Now mind you, there are Humanists in these two groups too, but the thing is, it is ran mainly by Liberal and Progressive Christians. So, it’s not going to happen, at least not without these two groups getting up in arms.

    However, I am very excited about this Tuesday too. I have put in a few campaigning hours for Obama, so he’d better win. I don’t freeze my butt off for just any man. He has to be someone very special before I do that and I think Obama is. :)

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  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I’ve been an Obama supporter since ’04, but I’m liking him even more now that I’ve been reading his book. I don’t agree with him on everything, but he’s the best hope we’ve got for progressive values, especially now that Kucinich is out of it.

  • PrimateIR

    Nick said

    Of course, on the non-progressive side of religion, I have friends whose parents have told them not to vote for Barack on the grounds that it would hasten the apocalypse.

    I thought good Christians wanted to hasten the end time thing….race to the rapture and all that.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    “I Got a Crush On Obama”

    After so much polarization, the country needs someone who can bring people together. I see Obama as being the best candidate for this.

  • Mriana

    MikeClawson said,

    February 2, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve been an Obama supporter since ‘04, but I’m liking him even more now that I’ve been reading his book. I don’t agree with him on everything, but he’s the best hope we’ve got for progressive values, especially now that Kucinich is out of it.

    He’s the best hope we have period, IMO. I don’t think it’s just progressives values, but the values of many people.

  • Signo

    What is this forum about please. Is it solely for Atheists or are christians involved. I have a few to relay here.

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Signo,
    This website is for for anyone, atheists or theists who want to discuss the various issues brought up by the posts. Scroll down to the bottom of the first page and you will see that there are many more pages of older posts. You can comment on any of them. Most of the frequent commenters here are atheists but several are Christians. There are three post contributors, two of whom are atheists and one who is a Christian pastor.

    Feel free to join in. Generally the atmosphere is respectful while challenging, although preaching instead of conversing will probably not be received well.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    @ Flora:
    Sarcasm/satire are so damn hard to detect online. Please clarify.

    @Karen: I found a transcript of that speech and I couldn’t find anything about atheists in it (other than a line about non-believers being viewed as immoral and non-believers viewing believers as intolerant).

    I also believe I read that Obama’s father was an atheist and I imagine he was raised in such a home. Is it possible that he’s faking? Ironically, I think my respect for him would increase if such a ruse was actually occurring.

  • http://www.atwks.blogspot.com Flora

    I wasn’t being sarcastic :)

  • Chris

    Whenever I say this, I usually get run out by the village mob. But, I’ll try it again.

    I don’t care for Barack Obama. In fact, I’d say I even dislike Barack Obama.

    To begin, after only a single year as Senator, he was dropping hints that he was running for President. I find a move like that to be extremely arrogant. He has spent more time campaigning for President than actually working as a Senator. Second, he gives these great inspirational messages on “change” and “yes we can”, but he has yet to actually provide substance to these sermons. I would think Atheists out of all would see right through this man’s words. He never speaks of how he will change, just that he will. Political promises.

    I want Hillary. I think she is smarter than Obama, has more experience, is tougher and will be a president able to produce change, not just talk about it.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    I’ve just posted my endorsement of Obama as well, covering why (as an atheist) I don’t have a problem with his Christianity.

  • Karen

    @Karen: I found a transcript of that speech and I couldn’t find anything about atheists in it (other than a line about non-believers being viewed as immoral and non-believers viewing believers as intolerant).

    Unbrainwashed, you can watch the speech on YouTube and you’ll hear his specific inclusion of “atheists” around the 16-minute mark, along with several religious groups he mentions who were inspired by Dr. King. Typically you don’t hear political candidates even bring up the word atheist, let alone favorably.

    I also believe I read that Obama’s father was an atheist and I imagine he was raised in such a home. Is it possible that he’s faking? Ironically, I think my respect for him would increase if such a ruse was actually occurring.

    I just finished his Audacity of Hope book, which is excellent. His mother and grandmother were thoroughgoing skeptics and his grandfather was sort of a-religious, so he was raised in a very secular home. Although he embraced Christianity as an adult, it’s a very liberal form of Christianity that is inoffensive to me.

    I recommend the book highly, by the way. For a book that does address a lot of specific policy issues, it’s entertaining and really gives a good sense of the man personally.

  • Karen

    I want Hillary. I think she is smarter than Obama, has more experience, is tougher and will be a president able to produce change, not just talk about it.

    I like Hillary too, and I think she would be a wonderful leader. The problem I have, though, is that she’s one of the most polarizing political figures in this country. Check out her negative numbers sometime – they’re huge.

    My worry is that she could be defeated by John McCain in the fall because there are so many independents and moderate Republicans who just hate the Clintons and would not vote for her. I also fear that if she gets into office, she won’t have the populist appeal to bring the country together in the way that’s needed to accomplish some of the more important things that need to get done.

    Barack has so much crossover appeal (several Republican Christian friends of mine are eager to vote for him) and has such great ability at the “bully pulpit” that I think he could accomplish a lot in office just because he’ll be able to engender popular support from the country. That’s very important, and something Bush has lacked from day one.

  • Peter

    Senator Obama, who is a devout member of the United Church of Christ

    Well, he just lost my vote :)

  • Mriana

    Well even as a non-theist and a Humanist, as well as his religious views aside, I share some of Obama’s values or rather he shares mine. Not sure which. I take no issues with his use of religion either, because 1. he was in a religious setting when he used religion and 2. he does not attempt to impose his beliefs on anyone and I don’t believe he ever will. I have, at times, when I speak to the religious, pointed out various religious texts and the views of my various heros, which also include Gandhi and MLK Jr. both religious, on the flip-side they include the Roddenberrys, Sagan, and Dr Spock, all Humanists to my knowledge. I look up to them as role-models. I see Obama as potentially being a role-model for many young people- both religious and non-religious and esp for my sons. He can and I believe will, set historical precedence for the future.

  • Maria

    I’m definitely voting for Obama

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Second, he gives these great inspirational messages on “change” and “yes we can”, but he has yet to actually provide substance to these sermons.

    He gives a lot of substance in his book.

    “Senator Obama, who is a devout member of the United Church of Christ”

    Well, he just lost my vote :)

    I don’t know if you were being sarcastic or not, just FYI, the UCC is the single most liberal Christian denomination out there (if you don’t consider the UU specifically “Christian”). If there is any Christian church that atheists ought to have the least objections to it should be the UCC.

    I like Hillary too, and I think she would be a wonderful leader. The problem I have, though, is that she’s one of the most polarizing political figures in this country. Check out her negative numbers sometime – they’re huge.

    My worry is that she could be defeated by John McCain in the fall because there are so many independents and moderate Republicans who just hate the Clintons and would not vote for her. I also fear that if she gets into office, she won’t have the populist appeal to bring the country together in the way that’s needed to accomplish some of the more important things that need to get done.

    Barack has so much crossover appeal (several Republican Christian friends of mine are eager to vote for him) and has such great ability at the “bully pulpit” that I think he could accomplish a lot in office just because he’ll be able to engender popular support from the country. That’s very important, and something Bush has lacked from day one.

    That is precisely how I feel about it too Karen. I have nothing against Hillary, but she will have a very hard time winning against McCain, and maybe even Romney. And even if she does get in, she will not be able to bring the country together. The deepening Red-Blue polarization we’ve had for the last couple of decades will only continue to get worse under her (not that it would necessarily be her fault, like you said, she is just a divisive figure no matter what she does.)

    The thing I like about Barack is that he could finally move us past the cultural hangover from the ’60s. The Boomers have succeeded, as usual, in making the entire political landscape revolve around them and their experiences in the 1960′s. If you liked the ’60s you’re a liberal, if you didn’t like them, you’re conservative. Barack, as the first Gen X President (he was born in 1961), would finally be able to move beyond this kind of polarization IMO. (BTW, I’ve written more about this here, in response to a recent Atlantic Monthly article.)

  • Scotty B

    Who’s Tom Brady?

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    Not a big fan of the NFL(National Football League), Scotty? :)

  • athenebelle

    I don’t know if you were being sarcastic or not, just FYI, the UCC is the single most liberal Christian denomination out there (if you don’t consider the UU specifically “Christian”). If there is any Christian church that atheists ought to have the least objections to it should be the UCC.

    That is very true but there are also moderate UCC churches and a few little more conservative/traditional ones. Now the particular church that he attends is more in line with your statement. Just not all of them. With that said, I agree with everything you’ve said. I can speak to this because I myself am also a member of the UCC. I remember seeing him at my churches national convention when I was a delegate. He had been asked to be the keynote speaker before he had created his exploratory committee. By the time the convention/General Synod he had an exploratory committee. His speech was loved by many, even the most conservative members within our broad denomination.

    Can you guess who’s got my vote?

  • Mriana

    Senator Obama, who is a devout member of the United Church of Christ”

    Well, he just lost my vote

    I don’t know if you were being sarcastic or not, just FYI, the UCC is the single most liberal Christian denomination out there (if you don’t consider the UU specifically “Christian”). If there is any Christian church that atheists ought to have the least objections to it should be the UCC.

    I think he was joking, but if he’s not, who the heck will he vote for? They’re all religious and go to church, but that doesn’t mean if Obama wins he’ll run the country by his religious beliefs. I truly think he will run it with hope, dignity, and concern for his fellow Americans. Ah, but don’t listen to me, I only campaign for him and consider him my man, the man. :D

    Did you know that can go on your resume? I’m going COOL!

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  • Jillie

    Dosen’t any of you wonder how Obama Barack can be a christian? Having been brought up by an atheist mother, it would be peculular for a child to then follow a theist path. Granted a few do, but that is usually the ones that have had problems or an addiction to either drugs or alchohol. Obviously a very ambitious man, following a path to the highest office, would be a kiss of death if he was an atheist.
    His entire adult life has been carefully manipulating the system starting with him heading to Chicago, joining a black church etc. etc.
    I feel we need more time to really get to know this person before we vote him in as president. He reminds me a bit of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, how he seemed to fool so many to get his prize. I’m an atheist and a liberal, I just want what is best for our country.

  • Mriana

    Jillie said,

    February 12, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Dosen’t any of you wonder how Obama Barack can be a christian?

    No. Why?

    Having been brought up by an atheist mother, it would be peculular for a child to then follow a theist path. Granted a few do, but that is usually the ones that have had problems or an addiction to either drugs or alchohol.

    You haven’t read his book, have you? Probably the 12 Step Program or some other deal many years ago, but that was years ago. However, he is very well aware of the verses that are inhumane and contribute to slavery and other human indignities. Even if it wasn’t anything like that, it could very well be that he goes because his family does and if he is not a Christian, what of it? He seems to understand both sides or at least comprehend both sides, which is good IMO.

    IF it was some sort of 12-Step Program he went through years ago, so what? The Shrub is an alcoholic, but since there is no actual public evidence that he has gone back to drinking, only rumour, we cannot say that someone who use to do drugs is going to do it again, esp if we look at their most recent achievements.

    His entire adult life has been carefully manipulating the system starting with him heading to Chicago, joining a black church etc. etc.

    So what if he is an atheist (which I suspect he is) under the disguise of a family church? Is that a crime? I don’t think it is, except to appeal to the religious. That is the only reason why it would be important. Whatever the case, he is a fence sitter, that much we can be sure of, which I can appreciate.

    It might be what is best for this country is a new generation with new and fresh ideas. The old ones aren’t working, that is for sure. We won’t know for sure unless we give him a chance and if our only reason not to give him a chance is experience, then look at what experience has done for our country already. Doesn’t seem it’s helped it much.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Obviously a very ambitious man, following a path to the highest office, would be a kiss of death if he was an atheist.
    His entire adult life has been carefully manipulating the system starting with him heading to Chicago, joining a black church etc. etc.

    If you’re implying that he is pretending to be a Christian just to get elected, I think the timeline says differently. His conversion experience occurred well before he ran for public office.

  • athenebelle

    If any of you have not read “Dreams of my Father” which was written long before he went into politics I suggest you do so in order to get an understanding of why he “converted” (i.e. became a member of Trinity UCC and a christian). You won’t understand otherwise or see his conversion as anything but political posturing.

  • Jillie

    I would love an atheist in the White house, however only someone very naive would believe he or she could become president this era without being some sort of christian. I have laughed and told my daughters, if you ever want to go into an elective office, you will have to join a church well before you do that. Barack Obama is very intelligent and obviously knows this.
    I do not question his intelligence, only that he is incredibly ambitious and we know very little about him.
    You may not be old enough to remember how good it was in those Clinton years. I can assure you, you would have been very happy. Bill Clinton had no backers from the old democrats…i.e Kerry and Kennedy. It makes me wonder if it really is going to be a change.
    It’s the era of the American Idol and hence “We’re in love with Obama.’


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