The Good News According to Obama
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When Obama invokes Jesus to support universal health care he framed it as a moral imperative to care for “the least of the brethren.”
The social dimension of the Gospel is concern for the whole person, mind and body, and I think it was well understood by the Christian and political activist M.L. King Jr. as once wrote that “any religion that professes to b
Is interesting to notice how the social gospel from the perspective of the black church is more embodied, more emotional, sensitive and this makes it warmer, more common and popular.The white American evangelism is more segregationist, racist and disembodied of popular religiosity. The Social Gospel is directly related to the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of the Exodus and Jesus’ healing. In the white American Protestantism its philosophy is blessed by Calvinist progress and salvation comes once the person renounces evil and is born again to eternal life. This spiritual journey is individual and personal in but in the black tradition is more socialist and community boriented.
With King became clear that Christianity and its mandate of rebirth with help for social change . So King once wrote that all people are trapped in an “inescapable network of mutuality … I can never be what I ought to be until I am allowed to be what it should be.” His political speech “I have a Dream” fell short and became one of the best Christian twentieth century sermons.
Jimmy Carter, another Baptist preacher and a former white president was charged of being weak political leader but a good Christian socialist for his convictions that led him to returned the stolen Panama Canal and for not being more aggressive and violent towards Iranians. For some, the actions of Obama in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity. Jesus also spoke of being violent. Obama has increased drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other African countries that have eliminated not only the terrorists, but also killed civilians.
Obama invokes Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “What that basically we think is not only Christ sacrificed himself for us, but also the application of the golden rule.”
Jesus spoke of helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health law taxing the rich to help the poor but the thrust of Obama’s health care is an undeniable and supreme example of Christian faith. A situation in which 50 million Americans have no health insurance is a major issue , is a scandal and a capitalist sin.
Having some people excluded from health care because they lack the wealth is a fundamental contradiction to the most basic Christians beliefs.
It was curious how the Protestant Evangelical Pope Billy Grahan disqualified Obama and not that Romney the other presidencial candidate who is a practitioner of a sectarian faith that has been renamed several times and some of their core believes beliefs keep being changed. Mormons reject several of Obama’s Christian beliefs.
Many fundamentalist Protestant pastors have tried to ruled out all Christian influence on Obama as an effort to sell their churches as the authentic ones ; but the true is thaat some of these pastors who wrongly called themselves Christians see the return of soldiers killed as a punishment from God with avenging primitive interpretation, another pastor was burning the Quran and some of them were attacking Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice and not see it as a Christian duty but they say Obama is a socialist with communist redistribution lines.
For these fundamentalist Christians the liberal Obama is a contradiction but the reality is that Christianity has to be consistently translated from private into public activity of the believer. The new man of Christianity, the born again is the messenger of the good news.
The president along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha have attended several Christian churches on Sundays. On one occasion a white governor had the nerve to treat him as a stranger, pilgrim and visitor, but Obama got up and professed his faith and he spoke about feeling of being at home in the house of our Father God. Obama’s name is has been charged as another Arab and Muslim but not American name.
The social gospel, progressive Protestantism and liberation theology have dominated American religious place since the end of the 19th century until the 1960s. Sometimes traditions are mixed so that is hard to tell the difference between them.
Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor preached the social golpel in a poor neighborhood of New York, urged the church to become aware of the “social sins” with the same seriousness we considered individual vices. Churches began to feed the poor, to open hospitals and fight other social ills.
Some evangelical churches grew and became socially popular because they provide the poor with everything from English classes, sewing instructions and leagues basketball. Later Dorothy Day and the Catholics preached with the creation of hospitals, childcare and education that soon ceased to be popular to become more classist and fundamentalist as some of thier hospitals.
Fundamentalist Christians have lost several battles in the public arena and during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that forbade the teaching of evolution.
Some Christian fundamentalists took to create a subculture with its own media networks, seminars and mega- churches who want nothing of activism or social progress. Some of these megachurches have created economic empires, universities, financial scandals and entanglements that leave much distance from the initial Christian call.
Participation of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Catholics are at risk of being disqualified and even excommunicated by their bishops at election times which promote Republican policies.
The study also found that the fastest growing in the country are the people who are not affiliated with any religion.
Another generation of Christians , however, can bring a new version of progressive Christianity again.
More than 60% of young evangelicals support government programs that help more emphasis on the need, and more about economic justice and environmental protection.
It interesting to note here that these values have the same criteria associated with Obama and black Protestant tradition and these values are now a growing number of young white evangelicals, educated and progressive.
A latter perspective suggests that Obama’s faith can be treated by history in two ways:
1. He could be seen as the ultimate realization of a progressive version of Christianity.
2. He could be seen as a leader who helped revive a dying school of Christianity to a new young generation, more cyber oriented and well informed before voting.