Michael Gaynor
Is President Obama a Christian?
By Michael Gaynor
August 24, 2010

Americans have cause to be "doubtful" of Obama's motives and "wary" of his convenient claims.

Karl Marx, the "father of Communism," favored "sharing the wealth" instead of capitalism and did not disguise his hostility to religion.

Marx, Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right: "Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." (http://atheism.about.com/od/weeklyquotes/a/marx01.htm)

But Marxism has never been popular in the United States, a country founded on the belief that inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are gifts of God. A candidate for President of the United States who does not affiliate with a religion that is generally respected in the United States would not be viable. Joining a church would be essential for a serious presidential hopeful...or even a person who aspired to be Mayor of Chicago, or a United States Senator from Illinois, or, probably, even an Illinois state senator.

In the fall of 2008 then Democrat presidential candidate Obama told "Joe the Plumber" that he "think{s] when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody" and he has claimed to be a Christian since he joined Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.'s Trinity United Church of Christ as an adult and embarked on a political career.Barack Obama, Sr. was a Kenyan Moslem who became a Marxist and Obama's mother was an atheist from Kansas.

Obama denies that he is a socialist and, with Obama now in the White House, even Fox News has partnered with Team Obama to convince the many Americans who do not believe that President Obama is a Christian that they should believe it. (When it comes to challenging President Obama's veracity, Fox News is loathe to do it.)

If Fox News reports President Obama's claim to be a Christian as a claim, that's appropriate. But reporting the claim as a fact suggests that Fox News has peered into President Obama's soul, and we all know that when President Bush claimed to have read Vladimir Putin's soul, he misread it.

Obama shrill and MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who told the world that Obama sent a thrill up his leg even before Obama was elected President, said that Obama says that he's Christian and that should be all there is to it.


Is President Obama's veracity unimpeachable?

Certainly not. For example, Obama lied about the full extent of his relationship with ACORN in order to be elected President. Why wouldn't President Obama falsely claim to be a Christian? It's politically beneficial for him to do so, and his veracity is hardly beyond question.

With President Clinton, the meaning of the word "is" was critical.

With President Obama, the meaning of the word "Christian" is critical.

Remember that tape recording of candidate Obama opining at a private San Francisco fundraiser that small-town America is "bitter" about America and that Americans "cling" to "religion" (as well as "guns") as an outlet for their bitterness?

What kind of Christian thinks that?

Obama critic Andy Martin: "For Obama to suggest that people turn to Christ and attend church out of bitterness devalues every Christian around the world. Obviously...after twenty years of the distorted racist theology of Reverend Wright, Obama still has no conception of Christian theology. People do not seek Christ out of bitterness; they seek His church out of grace. Obama may be a 'Christian' out of political expediency, but his remarks in California reflect contempt for the Christian message."

President Obama may have a conception of Christian theology, but Martin's right about people seeking Christ.

Are all Americans supposed to accept at face value a person's self-identification as Christian, especially when that person is a politician?

Of course not!

It's not likely that Obama would have been elected a United States Senator, much less President of the United States, if he had opted to join Reverend Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam instead of Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.'s Trinity United Church of Christ. Thus, a President Reagan put it, "Trust, but verify."

In Dreams from My Father, his autobiography, Obama wrote (p. 154) that he had spent two years each in Muslim and Catholic schools in Indonesia.

In that book, Obama explained how he gave the appearance of praying, but "but that didn't change how [he] felt inside."

P. 154: "In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I would pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. just a parched old nun and thirty brown children, muttering words. Sometimes the nun would catch me, and her stern look would force my lids back shut. But that didn't change how I felt inside."

With Obama, the inner reality admittedly need not coincide with the outer appearance.

What motivated Obama was organizing, not religion Thus, Obama wrote (p. 274): "I asked [Reverend Philips] for introductions to other pastors who might be interested in organizing, and he mentioned a few names — there was a dynamic young pastor, he said, a Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, who might be worth talking to; his message seemed to appeal to young people like me."

Obviously it did.

Reverend Phillips told Obama, as Obama related it: "It might help your mission if you had a church home, though. It doesn't matter where, really. What you've asked from pastors requires us to set aside some of our more priestly concerns in favor of prophecy. That requires a good deal of faith on our part. It makes us want to know just where you're getting yours from. Faith, that is."

Obama (p. 279): "It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't have an answer. Perhaps, still, I had faith in myself. But faith in one's self was never enough."

During Obama's first visit with Reverend Wright, Obama was exposed to Reverend Wright's message — black liberation theology.

Obama (p. 284):

"Afterward, in the parking lot, I sat in my car and thumbed through the silver brochure that I'd picked up in the reception area. It contained a set of guiding principles — a 'Black Value System' — that the congregation had adopted in 1979. At the top of the list was a commitment to god, 'who will give us the strength to give up prayerful passivism and become Black Christian activists, soldiers for Black freedom and the dignity of all humankind.' Then a commitment to the black community and black family, education, the work ethic, discipline, and self-respect.

"A sensible, heartfelt list — not so different, I suspected, from the values old Reverend Philips might have learned in his whitewashed country church two generations before. There was one particular passage in Trinity's brochure that stood out, though, a commandment more self-conscious in its tone, requiring greater elaboration. 'A Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness,' the heading read. 'While it is permissible to chaser 'middleincomeness' with all our might,' the text stated, those blessed with the talent or good fortune to achieve success in the American mainstream must avoid the 'psychological entrapment of Black "middleclassness" that hypnotizes the successful brother or sister into believing they are better than the rest and teaches them to think in terms of "we" and "they' instead of "US"!'"

Excerpt from Trinity's Mission Statement:

"Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee chaired by Vallmer Jordan in 1981. We believe in the following 12 precepts and covenantal statements. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They must reflect on the following concepts:

1. Commitment to God 2. Commitment to the Black Community 3. Commitment to the Black Family 4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education 5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence 6. Adherence to the Black Work Ethic 7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect 8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of 'Middleclassness' 9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community 10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions 11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System 12. Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System."

Post-racial, it's not. But it fits nicely with now First Lady Michelle Obama's pledge in her Princeton College senior thesis to put the Black Community "first and foremost" and Rev. Wright's claim that a black man can be killed simply for being a black man may help explain the First Lady's public expression of concern that her husband could be killed going to a gas station.

It was Reverend Wright's church that Obama joined and Reverend Wright who married the Obamas and baptized their children, but Obama was "a reluctant skeptic."

Obama (pp. 286-87):

"You have some good ideas, they would tell me. Maybe if you joined the church you could help us start a community program. Why don't you come by on Sunday?

"And I would shrug and play the question off, unable to confess that I could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly, between faith and simply endurance; that while I believed in the sincerity I heard in their voices, I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives, wary of expedient conversion, having two many quarrels with God to accept a salvation too easily won."

Americans have cause to be "doubtful" of Obama's motives and "wary" of his convenient claims.

Obama attributed his decision to join Reverend Wright's church to a sermon titled "The Audacity of Hope" (which he appropriated as the title for his presidential campaign book).

Obama (p. 294):

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters. As I watched and listened from my seat, I began to hear all the notes from the past three years swirl around me. The courage and fear of ruby and Will. The race pride and anger of men like Rafiq. The desire to let go, the desire to escape, the desire to give oneself up to a God that could somehow put a floor on despair.

"And in that single note — hope! — I heard something else; at the foot of the cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel ashamed about, memories more accessible than those of ancient Egypt, memories that all people might study and cherish — and with which we could start to rebuild. And if a part of me continued to feel that this Sunday communion sometimes simplified our condition, that it could sometimes disguise or suppress the very real conflicts among us and would fulfill its promise only through action, I also felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent , incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our dreams."

It makes a great story. But is it true...or wishful thinking...or political propaganda?

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


Receive future articles by Michael Gaynor: Click here

More by this author

April 11, 2023
'Politics ain't beanbag,' but investigation and prosecution of Donald Trump by rabid partisans must stop

January 16, 2023
Perhaps learning why the Pearl Harbor attack was a surprise in Hawaii but not in Washington can help us appreciate and learn from other federal government mistakes and move forward wisely

November 4, 2022
Free True the Vote's Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips

October 3, 2022
Who Sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines?

August 13, 2022
Mar-a-Lago raid shows Trump derangement syndrome has fortuitously worsened

July 5, 2022
From the Warren Court to Roberts Court to Thomas Court

May 21, 2022
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been barred from receiving Holy Communion at last

November 19, 2021
Justice ultimately prevailed in the Kyle Rittenhouse case

September 1, 2021
Is Afghanistan President Biden's Waterloo, or America's, too?

June 11, 2021
When Guatemalan President Alejandro Gammattei met Vice President Kamala Harris, he politely schooled her bigtime

More articles


Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Flashback: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Pete Riehm
Tolerance of sin is prelude to tyranny

Kari Lee Fournier
Almighty God vs. Satan: The Lord’s vengeance – it has begun

Peter Lemiska
The big lie of DEI

James Lambert
Newsom & Democrats eliminate the freedom of dealers to sell gasoline powered equipment

Cliff Kincaid
The origins of queer communism

Curtis Dahlgren
Modern "education:" Blend in; don't stand out, whatever you do

Matt C. Abbott
The case of the Rev. Christopher Senk

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Revelation Chapter 13: The Beast, persecution, and providence

Louie Verrecchio
Dodgers Pride Night: Catholics strike out looking

Jerry Newcombe
Is America still worth fighting for?

Michael Bresciani
Some sound biblical advice for candidate Donald Trump

Marsha West
Are you praying to the only true God?
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites