The US election is not the first issue on New Zealand’s TV News programmes but many of us have been concerned at the role that right-wing Christian fundamentalists have played with the current and previous administrations. We hope that this group will have less influence in the upcoming election. For this reason I was interested in the article (Barack Obama’s speech on religion in America) on US Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama by Ron Brown over at The Frame Problem.
Considering the promising run that Obama is having in the primaries Ron’s description of Obama as “a Champion for a secular America” gives us some hope:
Obama is a true champion for church-state separation. He put it most beautifully when he said that while a person can subscribe to a belief and personal code of conduct on religious grounds, but for that belief to be institutionalized the person must be able to defend it based on secular principles that are accessible to people of all faiths and to nonreligious people. It was such an elegant synthesis of everything that secularism stands for, and everything that America was rooted in. In an effort to encourage a greater respect for secularism among evangelicals, Obama reminded us that the institution of American secularism was pushed for most adamently not by nonbelievers and civil liberties activists, but by the early forebears of modern evangelical Christianity who were the minority at the time and did not want to have the dominant congregations interfering with their abilities to engage their faith as they saw fit. He also spoke of the plurality of Biblical interpretation. He asks what parts of the Bible we look to when considering particular moral issues. Do we look at the more punitive sections of the Old Testament (e.g., Leviticus and Deuteronomy), or to the more forgiving, loving, and less judgmental passages of the New Testament. Discussion on this topic linked to his synopsis of an event in which his Republican adversary for Illinois Senate asserted that Jesus would not vote for Barack Obama. The reason being primarily that Obama is pro-choice and favours gay rights. Obama took exception to his adversary’s claim to know the will of Christ.
Why I Am Supporting Barack Obama for President from a Christian supporter of Obama.