Quote of the week: Barack Obama

4 02 2008

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God’s test of devotion.

But it’s fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason. (“Call to Renewal“)

Mind you, that was in 2006, and in the current campaign he has ramped up the religious rhetoric significantly, in no small part due to the perception bandied about by his opponents on the Right that he is a Muslim.

But if a man who can say something like that in public has a serious chance of becoming President, in a country which twice elected a dribbling Religious Right-pandering idiot in Bush, surely things are looking up for the US?

Via Ninglun

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5 responses

4 02 2008
ninglun

Keep in mind he said that to a gathering of concerned evangelicals, so he was enunciating a position that he is likely to carry forward, I think; it is a position many of those same concerned evangelicals express among themselves too, and owes quite a lot to the same stream of theology that Kevin Rudd has indicated as one he respects.

5 02 2008
Irving

I will very happily vote for Barak Obama tomorrow and in November, and cannot wait to see such an intelligent and clear thinking and spiritual man as President.

What a change from the monkey and the organ grinder we now have as president and vice-president.

No advertising, please — AV

5 02 2008
mjdcrx

This quote has changed my outlook on Barack Obama. He has the same outlook as I do on religion and politics, and I believe that is a big step for the US. Myself as a Christian, I believe as a Constitutional Republic we have to take a step away from basing everything on one religion (since we are home to so many), and finding ways to incorporate ideas that are good (be it religious or ideologically based) into our laws.

Good read and post.

–Michael
crxo.wordpress.com

5 02 2008
arthurvandelay

It will be interesting to see how Super Tuesday pans out for Obama. The polls have them neck-and-neck.

8 02 2008
Some good news and good words courtesy of Ninglun? « The Thinkers’ Podium

[…] to Neil (and AV) for bringing this to […]

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