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As Long as We Remember...

September 21, 2010

Is he, or isnít he?

Derek Shackelford

Sometimes I do not know whether to laugh or cry over some of the discussions that take place within our political discourse. It appears that vision is so lacking when it comes to the direction within this country.


Fear has gripped us and some entities even benefit from people living in fear. The major political parties use fear to maintain power at the expense and detriment to the masses of people.


The Democrats use fear in declaring that if the Republicans hold power America will be steered in the wrong direction. The Republicans have continually bantered that the Democrats have and are leading this country into the abyss.


The sad part of this is that each one talks about the other but neither offers an alternative or a vision. It is simply that the other is bad and, well, we are just not as bad as the other.


While all of this takes place, “we the people” get manipulated into the fear factor. Take for instance the discussion of whether President Barack Obama is a Christian or not.




This is what our political mantra has come to – the obsession with the faith of the president. It is rather interesting that so many have joined in a discussion of the president’s faith, yet we have a difficult time trying to mingle faith and politics. So often it has been touted that the two should remain separate.


But now it appears that it is of vital importance, or is it just a tool of ignorance and manipulation? The president’s faith, not the policies. The president’s faith, not the direction of the country. The president’s faith, not the integrity of our political system. All of this to maintain the grip of fear on the people.


A recent poll showed that 20% believed that President Obama is a Muslim. That is one in five who believe that the president is of the Muslim faith although he has continually stated he is a Christian.


Now, it is rather interesting how we could and would define Christian, but that is the subject of another debate. What is rather intriguing are those who continually wanted to align President Obama with Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


The Rev. Mr. Wright is the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. President Obama was a member of that church for 20 years. Reverend Wright garnered the controversy during the election cycle with his circulated Internet sermon which chastised America.


Some have wanted to place the president and Reverend Wright in the same bottle; but they also may consider him a Muslim. Although we have so much information at our disposal, what is important is how we use and disseminate the information that is available. How many have ever visited Trinity United Church of Christ? How many have heard of the Reverend Wright before President Obama’s campaign? How many have heard any of Reverend Wright’s sermons besides the three minute Internet clip?


There are so many angles that we often refuse to examine because the notion of fear will keep us from looking behind the curtain. It is contradictory to say that President Obama believes like the Reverend Wright, yet he is a Muslim.


More importantly there is no mandate or requirement that any political candidate running for political office be of the Christian faith. Nowhere in the Constitution does it read that the president must be a Christian or practice the Christian faith. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the president cannot be an atheist.


In fact it does not say anywhere that the president of the United States has to have faith or not.


With all this discussion of whether or not the president is a Christian or Muslim is just another sad commentary on us as a people and how fear continually laughs at us.


Being American does not equate to being Christian. People of all faiths live everywhere. Christianity is not so much limited to America; and America does not have sole right and practice to the faith.


Furthermore, America does not simply decide who is and who isn’t. If the truth be told, what Christianity may look like in America is not what Christianity may – or should – be. Even if the president was a Muslim, does it really matter? Furthering this discussion is not something to laugh or cry about – what is truly makes me want to do is throw up both my hands and holler!


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