Who do you look up to?

Back in June 2006, before I even knew who the Senator from Illinois was, Barak Obama gave a speech which did not impress my fundamentalist family. Obama’s “Call to Renewal Keynote Address” was ridiculed for being anti-christian and anti-God. My father had forwarded a link to a YouTube video which had obviously been edited, and had a ridiculing and insulting voiceover. The video smacked of propaganda, so I looked up the text of the speech for myself and compared the video to the transcript.

Reading the speech, I was impressed with Obama’s description of his conversion experience. And I found that his position with regards to the separation of Church and State was essentially the same as mine.

…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…


Just this week, religionnews.com posted “Obama’s spiritual Cabinet shapes policy, tends his soul” where they briefly profile some people that Obama relies on for spiritual guidance. Upon seeing this, I was reminded of the Call to Renewal speech and used that reminder as an excuse to share that with my readers. Now, reading this article on Obama’s “spiritual Cabinet”, think about who inspires you and how they feed your soul.


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