Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thanks, Obama, For Giving The Christianists Another Win. And They Won't Vote For You, Anyway.

Now what is it about this that is so difficult to understand?

At the risk of heresy, let it be said that setting up the two presidential candidates for religious interrogation by an evangelical minister -- no matter how beloved -- is supremely wrong.

For the past several days, since mega-pastor Rick Warren interviewed Barack Obama and John McCain at his Saddleback Church, most political debate has focused on who won.

Was it the nuanced, thoughtful Obama, who may have convinced a few more skeptics that he isn't a Muslim? Or was it the direct, confident McCain, who breezes through town-hall-style meetings the way Obama sinks three-pointers from the back court?

The candidates' usual supporters felt validated in their choices. McCain convinced and comforted with characteristic certitude those who are most at ease with certitude; Obama convinced and comforted with his characteristic intellectual ambivalence those who are most at ease with ambivalence.

The winner, of course, was Warren, who has managed to position himself as political arbiter in a nation founded on the separation of church and state.

The loser was America.

In his enormously successful book "The Purpose-Driven Life," Warren begins: "It's not about you." Agreed. Nor is this criticism aimed at Christians, evangelicals, other believers or nonbelievers -- or at Warren, who is a good man with an exemplary record of selfless works. Few have walked the walk with as much determination or success.

This is about higher principles that are compromised every time we pretend we're not applying a religious test when we're really applying a religious test.

It is true that no one was forced to participate in the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency and that both McCain and Obama are free agents. Warren has a right to invite whomever he wishes to his church and to ask them whatever they're willing to answer.

His format and questions were interesting and the answers more revealing than what the usual debate menu provides. But does it not seem just a little bit odd to have McCain and Obama chatting individually with a preacher in a public forum about their positions on evil and their relationship with Jesus Christ?

The past few decades of public confession and Oprah-style therapy have prepared us perfectly for a televangelist probing politicians about their moral failings. Warren's Q&A wasn't an inquisition exactly, but viewers would be justified in squirming.

Go read the whole thing here.

I'll just add that I blame Obama even more than I blame Warren or McCain. Obama's the Democrat. He's supposed to fucking know better.


Anne Johnson said...

Sadly, there was no way out. Any Dem would have had to do this. It's the New Inquisition.

ElleR said...

To me, it goes against everything the Democratic party is supposed to stand for. Separation of church and state is a fundamental tenet of liberalism; it heads off any suggestion of one, national, supreme, religion which would rule all others out. I have to say I am very disappointed in Obama's public piousness. And, I agree, Rick Warren has made it all about him.

Hecate RavenMoon said...

Blessed be.

Well, all I know to say about this is--OMG!

Thank you for sharing this information.

All this political stuff, the way they all try to discredit one another, kind of makes you NOT want to vote. It get's confusing and then you just don't know WHO to vote for.

Have a great week.

Kathleen said...

It would be very interesting if we could get the Association for the Separation of Church and State (I'm not sure of the of exact title) to host a debate. It could be interesting.

Ottavina said...

I agree - this is upsetting.

What are your thoughts on Cynthia McKinney as the Green Party candidate?