21 August, 2010

What I Wish President Obama Would Say About Religion

I don't think President Obama is a Muslim. In fact, despite his insistence that he's a Christian, I suspect he's an atheist and that he's not the first atheist to occupy the White House. And, because I paid attention in 9th grade Civics and in Doug Miller's Poli Sci class at "State", I believe in separation of church and state and that nowhere in the US constitution does it say that that US Presidents must be Christians or even theists.

What they must be, however, is Validator-In-Chief. No, not because the constitution says so but because the US electorate is narcissistic and wants to see its own reflection in its presidents.

I like President Obama but I'd like him a lot more if instead of pandering to the majority religion like previous presidents have done he would tell us all that a president's religion is none of our business and that if we don't like it we can all just kiss his half-black ass.

I'm saying all this, of course, in response to recent polls that reveal that large numbers of Americans - especially on the right - think President Obama is a Muslim. If you spend a large part of your day watching or listening to the various news/talk sources as I do, you know that everybody's buzzing about Pew and Time polls that suggest many Americans still don't believe that President Obama is an American citizen and that many believe he is a Muslim.

First of all, people lie to pollsters and use them to make political points. When, for example, a pollster asks a racist conservative about President Obama's religion, the answer given by the racist conservative is not a reflection of what the racist conservative really believes, it's what game theorists call a "strategic" answer rather than a "sincere answer". "Strategic" because racist conservatives know that convincing Americans that President Obama is not like them will hurt his re-election bid. Convincing the narcissistic electorate of a candidate's  "otherness" is key to defeating him or her. That's why US presidential candidates always exaggerate their Christian-ness. After a brutal campaign in which his Catholicism was an issue, John F. Kennedy, the president whose opponents tried to beat by suggesting that, if elected, Kennedy would be taking orders from The Pope, famously said that one of the inconveniences he would now have to suffer as a result of winning was that he'd have to start attending church regularly. Even if a majority of Americans aren't regular church attenders, Americans want to see their presidents attending church.

Another thing about polls: respondents use polls to answer questions the respondent wishes the pollster had asked but didn't so when a pollster asks an Obama hater if he thinks the President is a Muslim, he or she may answer "yes" simply to express his or her general dislike for the president because charging The President with being a Muslim in a country that thinks its presidents should be Christians is approximately the same thing as saying you hate the SOB.

I squirmed and felt almost as uncomfortable as President Obama apparently did as I watched a brief clip of Obama reading from his notes and affirming his faith in Jesus Christ as his redeemer and Substitute. I didn't catch where The President was when he read this carefully-worded statement that, I suspect, had some input from evangelical advisers, but instead of saying something that I don't think he believes I wish President Obama had torn up his notes, looked into the camera and told a narcissistic, misinformed, bigoted American electorate that a deity who cannot or will not forgive sinners unless someone dies is not a deity worthy of worship. I wish President Obama had said that he's real sorry that so many Americans apparently flunked 9th grade Civics and have been misled and deceived by their preachers and by Fox TV and by Rush Limbaugh but America was not founded by evangelical Christians in the 1600s but by Deists and freethinkers in the late 1700s - non-evangelicals who disobeyed the book of Romans by committing treason against an earthly government that, according to Paul, was a minister of God and a threat only to wrongdoers. This nation's founders, it seems, were either unaware or were in disagreement with the Bible on this point, it seems, and I wish President Obama had pointed this out.

I wish President Obama had said that what America needs is not a Validator-In-Chief or a religious test for presidential candidates but for the American people to take a refresher course in 9th grade Civics.

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