Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama, God, and the State of the Union

Some will cheer; some will weep; some will wonder why anyone keeps up.

With last night's speech it has become clear that the day of frequent reference to God in presidential speeches is over. Apart from the obligatory benediction at the end, there was no mention of the Lord in the (non-)State of the Union address.

This represents not only a departure from the era of President Bush, but also a departure from the pro-religious tone that we saw in candidate-Obama as early as his 2004 DNC speech in Boston.

20 comments:

chadwick said...

Bart,

Concerning the Bush-era god:

Didn't President Bush pray to the "god of many understandings"? (In reference to Bush's comment about the god of the Koran & the God of the Bible being the same).

Didn't Bush also stated, along with Obama, that there are "many paths" to heaven?

Blessings,
chadwick

Bart Barber said...

Chadwick,

I've been very disappointed with President Bush's recent statements about his theology. They cause me to have grave questions about what he believes.

One always runs the risk that politicians are pandering to you because of your faith. But which is better politically: The guy who disagrees with you but panders to you, or the guy who disagrees with you and dismisses you? I'll take the former over the latter every day.

I offered no analysis in this post, just an observation about the change in tone.

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: ... a departure from the pro-religious tone ....

Bush: God ... war. War ... God.

Obama: ... end war.

bapticus hereticus: seems to me, whether God is mentioned or not, ending war is pretty much in line with Christian thought.

Bart Barber said...

Heretic,

You cannot equate religion and pacifism:

1. There are a great many pacifists who are not religious.
2. There are a great many religious people who are not pacifists. There is even our Lord who said that he had come not to bring peace, but a sword.

So, feel free to BE a pacifist if you wish. But you err when you post suggesting that Bush's waging of war against terror is anti-religious or that pacifism is pro-religious. Clearly, logically, this is an untenable position.

selahV said...

Bart, they're taking God out of the schools, out of the historical textbooks, why shouldn't we expect someone like Obama to leave Him out of speeches? Has he found a church yet? Does he even go to church anymore? selahV

Bart Barber said...

SelahV,

Of course he goes to church. I promise you that. It was my Dad's job once-upon-a-time to line up visits and ferry Democrats to church after church after church in search of votes.

Anonymous said...

Bart,
I have to wonder if this was an act of Obama, or an act of God. Paul wrote in Romans about people who know God and refuse to worship Him. As they persist in their wickedness He finally gives them over to it. One of the results of that is that foolish and vanity abound.

CB Scott said...

President Obama may bring troops home. The right or the wrong of that will become evident in short order.

Yet, at the same time he has declared war worldwide on the unborn.

I cannot see this as a good thing.

Also, I agree with Bart. Former President Bush has made some statements and committed some acts that have caused me to question his spiritual condition and brought grief to my heart.

Come quickly, Lord. Come quickly.

cb

WesInTex said...

Bart,

In line with what the “Anonymous” writer said earlier, I just read an article by John MacArthur in the journal on renewal “Heartcry” (published quarterly by Life Action Ministries), entitled “When God Abandons a Nation.” In that article MacArthur turns to Romans 1:18-32 and gives clear evidence that God has turned our nation over the sinful desires of the its flesh. He does conclude that article with the hope of Psalm 81, particularly verse 13 where the psalmist writes: “If only My people would listen to Me and Israel would follow My ways. I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes.” (Ps. 81:13-14, HCS).

I have long believed that America is under the hand of God’s judgment and this last Presidential election outcome is the direct result of that judgment. Having read Leviticus 26 this morning in my devotional time, it is clear to me that our Father is turning up the heat, however much He must, so that His people will fall on our faces in repentance, so as to hear His word and surrender to His will.

I think with Obama we received exactly what (as a nation) we were asking for and it will be the worst nightmare of our history.

But, there IS hope …

Grace Abundantly,
Wes

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: Heretic, [1] You cannot equate religion and pacifism: [2] 1. There are a great many pacifists who are not religious. [3] 2. There are a great many religious people who are not pacifists. There is even our Lord who said that he had come not to bring peace, but a sword. [4] So, feel free to BE a pacifist if you wish. But you err when you post suggesting that Bush's waging of war against terror is anti-religious or that pacifism is pro-religious. Clearly, logically, this is an untenable position.

bapticus hereticus: [1] Of course not, Bart; the two are distinct constructs, but that does not preclude a relationship among the constructs. However and given "... Lord, Lord ...," one cannot, either, equate a position that is taken by an individual claiming a particular perspective to be actually manifesting the claimed perspective; that is, that Bush invoked God did not in itself justify his behavior. And given my first comment, that God was not invoked by Obama does not in itself cast religious doubt on his behavior.

bapticus hereticus: [2] I agree and would add there are many that are religious and draw such a perspective from scripture.

bapticus hereticus: [3] I agree. And while I lean toward such a position, I take Neibuhr's point on matters related to war, but with a good deal of openness for Wink and Yoder.

bapticus hereticus: [4] The point of my post was not about being anti-terror or pacifist, rather it points to the belief that many Christians have about the Iraq war, that is, it was and is not a just war (note: of influential religious groups the SBC is nearly standing alone with its just war evaluation) and regardless of the times that one invokes God in one's rhetoric to justify it, such will never be sufficient in itself. As Israel learned, use of the Ark without God was not in Israel's best interest.

bapticus hereticus: In summary: that Obama did not invoke God in a manner satisfying to some is not sufficient to say his motives for ending the war are not associated with his religious beliefs, or that such is inconsistent with Christian thought. That Bush invoked God for the war does not in itself justify its implementation. For the record I think Bush is a religious man, as I think the same of Obama, too. I have no reason or any desire to doubt their statements of faith. Their behaviors are open to question, however, for efficacy and justification. As is the case for us all.

Bart Barber said...

BH:

Certainly. I did not mean to imply any equation between God-talk and God-listening or God-obedience.

Trackers of civil religion often watch and analyze the level of God-talk in public speeches. It isn't everything, but it isn't nothing, either. The post merely opens the floor for discussion about the dramatic decrease in God-talk now that President Obama is in office.

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: Trackers of civil religion often watch and analyze the level of God-talk in public speeches. It isn't everything, but it isn't nothing, either. The post merely opens the floor for discussion about the dramatic decrease in God-talk now that President Obama is in office.

bapticus hereticus: "... now that ... Obama is in office" is an interesting concept. is it fair to evaluate rhetoric of a two-year presidential campaign with rhetoric of a role enacted for only a month? the means of small samples typically have large standard errors compared to means derived from larger samples. we need to be careful that we do not assert something to be which is not, while at the same time be mindful that if something significant is operative sufficient time should be allowed for it to be manifested.

bapticus hereticus: surely we baptists will place little emphasis on God-talk from our politicians and instead place greater emphasis on policies that promote health, peace, and the too often forgotten. surely we are more interested in policies that are consistent with mature faith than religious rhetoric. my faith, influenced by process, teaches me that God is at work in believers and unbelievers, alike, seeking to influence their behaviors so that they (i.e., behaviors) will promote/facilitate love and justice.

Bart Barber said...

Is it fair? To look at the available data? You bet it is. Absolutely.

Now, if I were overreaching on the drawing of conclusions, that might not be fair. But I'm not doing that.

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: Is it fair? To look at the available data? You bet it is. Absolutely.

bapticus hereticus: we have rhetoric for two years of campaigning and one month of governing and we are ready to contrast the two periods? the issue is not whether you have data, but whether you have sufficient data in which to generalize a finding.

Bart Barber said...

True. But I'm not making a finding. I'm making an observation. As we make more observations, we may be ready to make findings at some point in the future. I'm not making of this any more than it is. I'm not extrapolating. I'm just standing where we are, looking around, and leaving it open for all of us to take another look later.

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: ... I'm not making of this any more than it is. I'm not extrapolating. I'm just standing where we are, looking around, and leaving it open for all of us to take another look later.

bapticus hereticus: and some might suggest that prematurely asking a question biases that which is considered datum (and such possibly facilitates premature assessments). but i agree you have not asserted an evaluation (but you have made a comparison), even if such seems to be evidenced by several individuals in this thread.

Bart Barber said...

Well, BH, allow me to be just as crystal-clear as I know how to be: I am a firm believer in Proverbs 21:1. Although I know of the profound gulf that separates President Obama from myself at this juncture, my prayer, my hope, and my embraced possibility is that President Obama might be a radically different person in 2012 than he is today. I'm not only WILLING to wait and see how things turn out, I'm PRAYING on that basis.

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: ... I am a firm believer in Proverbs 21:1 [and] ... my hope ... is that President Obama might be a radically different person in 2012 than he is today....

bapticus hereticus: and Proverbs 21.2 would argue that we all be radically different in 2012 than we are today, given none of us, to date, have been as consistent or humble as we would desire or as is needed.

Scott Shaffer said...

I see where the Obama White House is now vetting prayers at events where the President will attend. The irony is incredible. The state is now approving the church's prayers.

Bart Barber said...

Scott,

Maybe he ought to save everybody the time and just put together a book of acceptable prayers. Do you think he should get Congress to approve it as the official national prayer-book, or do you think he could just do that by virtue of his own personal authority as the President?