President's advisors are right
President Obama's 10-day Asia trip includes visits to India and Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.
The president chose not to visit the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar during his time in India because it required a head covering that his advisers feared would fuel speculation about his faith. A Pew study showed that nearly 20% of Americans believe falsely that the president is a Muslim.
The more Obama reaches out to Muslims, the more his critics are likely to slander him, implying that he is not a Christian.
An example is his April 2009 speech in Turkey, in which he said, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation, we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." The president's critics have seized on that statement, insisting that he rejects the Christian foundations of America.
Is Obama stuck between a rock and a hard place? If you were the president, how would you handle this dilemma?
I find it distressing that the conspiracy theories and political game-playing have gotten to a point where a Christian president can't participate in a Sikh event because it might provide fuel for those who believe he's a "secret" Muslim. Even more troubling is that the president's advisors are right, if he was photographed in a turban it would provide critics yet another "proof" of his "socialist" plan to undermine American democracy and replace it with Sharia law. I wish I could say that this was some sort of fringe phenomenon, but the fact that we have admitted "birthers" elected to high office only underscores the strange age we live in. There is no real way to truly handle this situation, Obama can only perform to the best of his ability, and refuse to dignify these conspiracy theorists with the validation of engagement.
As for this being a Christian nation, Obama joins luminaries like John Adams, who in 1797 signed the congress-approved Treaty of Tripoli which unequivocally states that "the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." You wouldn't know it by watching the recent "God In America" special on PBS, but our Founding Fathers were stocked full of skeptics, Deists, Freemasons, and individuals who were Christian in name only. But even if this were not true, even if the claims of various groups that we are truly a Christian nation stood up to real scrutiny, what would that mean for American society? Does any Christian of good conscience want to live in an Orwellian world where some are "more equal than others?" Can anyone see the irony of sounding the alarm over "creeping Sharia" while tacitly supporting some sort of theocracy-lite where shops are mandated to wish you a "Merry Christmas" and every public building erects a Crèche? I can't imagine that any form of compulsory Christianity would be one that Jesus could recognize.
When Obama says we aren't a Christian nation, he isn't negating Christianity's role, for good or ill, in shaping our country's history. Instead, he is acknowledging that we live in a secular, multi-religious society, where Wiccans, Buddhists, Hindus, Humanists, and Christians must all learn to coexist and work together to face our nation's problems. That secular democracy can work in a country teeming with religious diversity, with no one group (in theory) imposing its moral will on another. The kind of democracy some would like to see "exported" to the Middle East. The moment we abandon our secular democracy so we can call ourselves "Christian America" is the moment we lose any moral higher ground we might have on the world stage when it comes to negotiating with or combating theocracy. In India, where the president just visited, some want to officially make the country a "Hindu Nation" a prospect that worries many Christians and Muslims living there. If we cast off our secular robes, whats to stop India, or Turkey for that matter, from following suit?
Finally, no matter what one's stance is on the religion of Islam, we have to stop using it as a political football in order to engage and divide voters. Those who accuse Obama of being a "secret Muslim" aren't simply intellectually dishonest, they are also playing a dangerous game. As some continue to ratchet up the fear and anger at anyone who dares act Muslim in public, or engage with the rights guaranteed all faiths in this country, the more we unravel the fabric of tolerance that allows us all to work together in a civil society. Fear-mongering, anti-Mosque protests across the country, meaningless anti-Sharia amendments, and other efforts, simply endanger millions of innocent, peaceful, Americans who want nothing more than the rights and privileges granted to every citizen. In that Treaty of Tripoli the document states that America has "in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims]", this was reiterated in recent years by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both stating that we are not at war with Islam. In fact, Bush went farther, stating in 2006 that Muslims across the world should ignore the "propaganda and conspiracy theories", excellent advice that Obama should take now.
November 9, 2010; 1:57 PM ET
Save & Share:
Previous: Ignore the willfully ignorant | Next: Obama stuck between rock solid convictions and hard politics
Posted by: Cobalt_Blue | November 10, 2010 2:51 PM
Report Offensive Comment
Posted by: VisionFromAfar | November 10, 2010 1:07 PM
Report Offensive Comment
Posted by: djoh1226 | November 10, 2010 12:28 PM
Report Offensive Comment