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Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

One of the forbidden things in Western culture is to question the reality of a person’s faith. “How dare you? I say that I’m a Christian,” he protests, as though an assertion settles the matter.

This has come to light recently with another minor flap concerning President Obama’s religion. The president claims to be a Christian, and those who question his assertion are roundly criticized. For most people, if the president says that he is a Christian, then that’s that. Case closed.

Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, addressed the matter last week with his article “Why are Americans confused about Obama’s religion?” It seems that the current media sport is to trap Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker with a “gotcha” question. After all, he may be the Republican nominee for president, so many journalists relish the opportunity to reveal publicly a stumble. York writes, “On Saturday, two Washington Post reporters asked Walker, in the nation’s capital for a governor’s meeting, whether Obama is a Christian. Walker said he didn’t know.

“Informed by the reporters that Obama is in fact a Christian, Walker replied, ‘I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,’ protesting that the president’s religion is not a topic of great interest to voters. ‘I would defy you to come to Wisconsin. You could ask 100 people, and not one of them would say that this is a significant issue,’ Walker told the Post.”

What is striking is York’s statement, “Informed by the reporters that Obama is in fact a Christian.” How do the reporters know that “Obama is in fact a Christian”?

York notes that confusion about President Obama’s faith goes far beyond Gov. Walker: “In June, 2012, Gallup asked, ‘Do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?’ Forty-four percent said they did not know, while 36 percent said he is a Christian, 11 percent said he is a Muslim, and eight percent said he has no religion. The ‘don’t know’ group included 36 percent of Democrats.”

Why is there so much confusion? Despite his assertions that he is a Christian, the president makes little effort to attend corporate worship. York notes, “Few people see Obama openly practicing any religious faith. After the president did not attend church on Christmas 2013, the New York Times, citing unofficial White House historian Mark Knoller, noted that Obama had attended church 18 times in nearly five years in the White House, while George W. Bush attended 120 times in eight years. Yes, there are a variety of reasons some presidents don’t go to church very often, but in Obama’s case, absence does nothing to change existing public perceptions of him.”

Frankly, I suspect that only a few of America’s forty-four presidents would be classified as Christians in the biblical sense. Most have claimed to be Christians, but the reality would probably be that they were Christians in a cultural sense, not a biblical one, perhaps nominal Christians at best. Regardless, how should a person respond when his Christian faith is questioned? Should we respond as though we’ve been insulted? Should we simply protest that we are indeed Christians?

Warren Wiersbe, in his Walking with the Giants, relates a situation involving the Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte: “A friend told Whyte, ‘The evangelist said last night that Dr. Hood Wilson was not a converted man.’ Whyte jumped from his chair. ‘The rascal!’ he cried. ‘Dr. Wilson not a converted man!’ Then the friend reported that the evangelist also said that Whyte was not converted. At that, Whyte stopped short, sat down, put his face in his hands, and was silent for a long time. Then he said to the visitor, ‘Leave me, friend, leave me! I must examine my heart!’”

The question is not whether President Obama is a Christian. The question is whether we are: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5 [ESV]).”

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Quite the brouhaha has erupted in Washington, D.C., over a simple promise which President Obama made when he and his Democratic Party were trying to get their congressmen and senators on board to pass the so-called Affordable Care Act (the very title of the act brings the concept of truth into question). The president said and has continued to say, “If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

Because the Democrats had large majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the president’s party controlled whether the legislation would pass or not. Some legislators were reticent to go along, fearing the backlash from constituents back home. The president was able to squelch some of the potential fallout with his now-infamous promise, “If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

The word “period” used in this context means regardless anything else. It means without equivocation. Period. That’s it. Nothing can change this. Millions of Americans are discovering that the statement not only is not true now but was known early on not to be true.

According to Lisa Myers and Hannah Rapplelye of NBC News, the president’s statement was not true when he uttered it: “Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, ‘40 to 67 percent’ of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, ‘the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.’

“That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

“Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, ‘if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,’ was still saying in 2012, ‘If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.’

“‘This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,’ said Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.”

The president and many in his party are now spinning the story that the fault lies with the insurance companies who had been selling “lousy” plans to unsuspecting Americans, that now citizens will be buying quality plans. Well, spin it any way you like, but a lie is a lie is a lie. Glen Kessler, writing in the Washington Post, gave the president four Pinocchios for his repeated statement. On a scale of one to four, getting a four means you told a whopper.

Some evangelicals particularly dislike saying that the president lied about something. Their thinking goes something like this: Most of our unchurched neighbors are Democrats, and we want to reach our neighbors with the gospel. If we say that the leader of their party has lied, we effectively cut them off from the gospel.

While I understand and am sympathetic towards the logic, I really consider that a worldly way of looking at things. Jesus said to those who opposed him, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Did Jesus not care about the souls of those who opposed him? John the Baptist would be beheaded because he has said that it was unlawful for Herod to have his brother Philip’s wife (Matthew 14:1-11). Did John not care about the souls of Herod and his supporters?

In the Scriptures, we find that truth matters. A lie is a lie is a lie, whether you or I or even the President of the United States tells it. We do not have to be uncivil when we observe that a lie has been told. We must not sacrifice the truth about telling a lie in the name of evangelism. Period.

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