From the AP:
Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.
“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.
“Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.
“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.
“There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich,” Obama said. “I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.”
Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.
In 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest Christian denomination to do so. Obama believes that states should decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional amendment against it.
This article is instructive–and not just because it reminds me of the United Church of Christ-ordained campus minister at my alma mater, who once publicly prayed to the “spirit of the earth.” As we have said over and over, Governor Romney and all the rest are running for president, not pastor. This article makes clear that both Governor Romney and Senator Obama’s churches have some doctrine that conservative evangelicals will definitely disagree with. But here’s the difference: Senator Obama’s is relevant to the policies he would pursue as president, and you should take heed of it. The doctrine that undergirds his political beliefs seems to have driven him to espouse destructive but well-intended government schemes to help the poor, as well as “gay marriage.” Evangelicals’ differences with Governor Romney’s church, on the other hand, are confined to theological matters like the Trinity, and it’s well known that Mormons happen to be some of the most conservative (especially socially so) members of the Republican coalition.
This, to me, says two things. First, when we view theology in its correct light vis-a-vis a presidential race, only one of these guys deserves conservative evangelicals’ votes–Governor Romney. Second, those evangelicals who view theology in an incorrect light–and would refuse to vote for Governor Romney because of the church he belongs to–might be helping to put someone who, despite all his empty talk of “unity” and being nice, utterly disdains their views.