Is Barack Obama Christian?

Barack Obama is surging. I've seen quite a few Democrats who are turned off by his statements of Christian faith, and of course, many Republicans are extremely critical of the flavor of Christian he seems to be, even flatly stating that he is no Christian.

We've seen lots of different flavors of Christian politicians come and go (no non-Christian ones to speak of, except for some famous foreign ones such as Ghandi and binLaden). As far as I can tell, there is no correlation between how good a politician is and his religiousness. In fact, it seems to be generally true that some of the best politicians are deeply religious individuals who are successful in keeping their political decisions separate from their religious activities. This principle seems to be especially clear in a religiously diverse nation such as the US.

As nearly as I can tell, there have been no political leaders, at least in America, who have been both a good leader in government and someone whose actions are determined (limited, controlled) by the dictates of a religion. Now, I'm separating success in gaining and holding power from being a good governmental leader. There have been, in fact, various examples of religious zealots who have gained and held political power, but I don't think that any of them left humanity better off than they found it.

Therefore, my attitude toward the flavor or degree of religiosity in our political leaders in general, and Barack Obama in particular, is Who cares? That is, if it doesn't matter what denomination one is in (if any), or the strength of one's faith, then as far as I'm concerned, it's of no interest whatsoever during the political debate. In fact, the only religious issue that should be part of the debate is the question of whether a certain politician is willing to keep his religious beliefs or nonbeliefs out of government. Anyone who cannot promise this, or whose actions show that he is incapable of it, is unqualified to be part of our government, in my opinion.

Now, if you're an atheist or agnostic, you may have been put off by Obama's references to his faith and to his religious institutional figures. I am too, but only in the sense that I consider such statements to be irrelevant noise. What I see in Mr. Obama is someone whose religious faith may or may not be deeply held within his own heart (how can anyone besides he himself ever truly know this?), but whose actions as a political leader are largely independent of them. This puts him into a fairly large group of leading politicians in our country; names such as Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton come to mind.

Basically, until someone can show me evidence of theocratic leanings on the part of Obama or Clinton, I will be making my decisions with no reference whatsoever to their religion. I sincerely hope that that's what everyone else does too.

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