Monday, February 09, 2009

Obama's "Prayer Breakfast" Speech

On February 5th, at the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton, President Barack Obama gave a speech and in it, said some interesting things. Let's take a look.

There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.

This is typical post-modern bilge. President Obama believes that there is no right answer to questions about why we're here, where we're going and what we should do about it. He believes that all roads lead to Rome, as it were. He believes, apparently, that faith itself has power and that the object of your faith is irrelevant. If you have faith in something--anything--then it's all good. This is completely contrary to Biblical teaching, and yet he claims to be a Christian.

But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

This is an incoherent statement. No matter what we choose to believe, no religion has as its central tenet, hate. Excuse me, Mr. President… but if we can believe whatever we want to believe, and if there are no right answers, and if all roads lead to Rome, then we can certainly choose to believe in a religion (even if we have to invent a new one, which we don't) whose central tenet is hate. Consider the following verses from the Quran:

Sura (2:191-193) - "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]...and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."

Sura (2:216) - "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

Sura (3:151) - "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority".

Sura (4:89) - "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."

Sura (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

Sura (8:39) - "And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah"

Sura (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

So not only is there clearly at least one religion whose central tenet appears to be hate, but it's even a religion that's part of President Obama's heritage! Here's more…

In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.

The idea that varied beliefs can bring us together is also incoherent nonsense. People only work together when their beliefs about what should be done are synchronized. People of different religious beliefs, by definition, have different priorities. They have to.

The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.

The founders drew no such line. Indeed, the founders wanted to provide religious freedom, (and did) but they clearly understood that freedom without Christianity (which produces a sort of self-governance) would ultimately be an unmitigated disaster. The founders recognized that their political views arose out of their world view; that world view and political views were not independent.

Gouverneur Morris, 1832:

Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.

Samuel Adams, 1790:

Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, but impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… in short of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.

Benjamin Rush, 1796

In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, That is, the unversal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible.

George Washington, 1790

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… in vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…

Alexis de Tocqueville

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive one without the other.

John Adams, 1799

We have no government armed in power capable of contending in human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

I'm afraid that President Obama is badly mistaken about the facts of this issue. The founders of this great nation had no desire to separate Christianity from government. They certainly did seek to allow citizens to believe as their conscience dictates… but they fully recognized that without Christianity as the foundation, the nation would fail. Here's another quote

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

What's interesting about this quote is that while President Obama is trying to play the part of someone who is open-minded and not committed to any particular idea of truth, he betrays this by saying that one law binds all religions together. Suddenly he makes a universal truth claim. It's a false truth claim, but it's a claim to truth nonetheless. He claims that this particular idea is true: that all religions have the "Golden Rule" as a common thread. But besides that, he's just factually incorrect, particularly with respect to Islam. Having cited several verses already, I assume this needs no further explanation. Other new age religions are completely and totally consumed with self. For followers of the so-called "Law of Attraction", the end game in life is nothing more than to accumulate whatever it is that YOU want. Hindus don't believe in God at all. Eastern religions are pantheistic… they believe that everything is god and that god is impersonal. A force, not a person. Humanists believe only in humans. They reject all notions of the supernatural. Eugenie Scott is the head of the National Center for Science Education. She won't "work together" with people who want the scientific weaknesses of Darwin's theory of evolution taught in public schools. She can't, because she would have to sacrifice her beliefs to do so. People with different beliefs have beliefs that necessarily point them in different directions. To state that different beliefs point toward a common point, in a common direction, is simply nonsense.

So let us pray together on this February morning, but let us also work together in all the days and months ahead. For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God.

See, we can't even do this together, because, as I indicated before, world religions do not agree on who God is or even that God is. And not only that, but not all world views agree that prayer is of any value. When we don't even agree that prayer is a good thing (how could a humanist, for example, pray?) So who are we all going to pray to? Doesn't that matter?

I'm afraid that these quotes from our President reveal that he is divorced from reality. Christians should pray (to God, in case you're wondering) for the sake of this nation. And certainly we should pray (to God, in case you're wondering) for President Obama. But President Obama has been badly deceived.

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