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By William Wan
After spending hours upon hours on Facebook for this fun story about all the crazy/intriguing things people list as their religion on Facebook, I started wondering what DC’s political heavyweights put on their Facebook pages. How does Obama (or more likely his staffers) categorize his beliefs? For that matter, what did South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford list as “religious views”? What about Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin or John McCain?
Here’s what I found…politicians’ profiles and pages–just like regular users–span the range when it comes to Facebook. You have your highly active ones–guys who seem to post every other hour (yes, we’re talking about you, Newt Ginrich). Then you’ve got some on the other end of the spectrum, who haven’t updated their wall in nearly a year (exhibit A: Michelle Obama, although it seems kind of of understandable, what with two active kids, a husband with a demanding job, a huge house to run, fashions to keep up with, not to mention some education issue work on the side).
As far as the Obamas go, both the first lady and the president play it a bit vague, going with a generic “Christian” label in their religious views boxes. No mention of the United Church Of Christ denomination of their old church in Chicago, or of their current search for a new church home. Obama also mentions the Bible among his favorite books (along with Moby Dick,
Shakespeare’s tragedies, Parting the Waters, Gilead and, of course, Lincoln’s Collected Writings). His favorite quote? “The Arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends
towards justice” (from Martin Luther King Jr.).
As far as former presidents, it’s hard to tell if George Bush has an official page (I had to wade through a lot of mock pages out there, including some with pretty cruel jokes). Bill Clinton, doesn’t use the traditional info tabs, and so he doesn’t have anything in his religion box. Some of his comments in the “about me” field, however, point to some really fascinating insights about how he views the intersection between politics and religion:
If you could time travel to any period who would you have dinner with and why?
I would have dinner with someone great whose own writings about his or her life are unavailable – Socrates, Jesus, Genghis Khan, Shakespeare. We know what they did and what others said they said. I want to know why Socrates decided to die, in his own words; why Jesus drew a bright line between the power of faith and temporal power; why Genghis Khan, once he conquered all Asia, allowed his new subjects complete religious and cultural freedom; and how Shakespeare came to be the keenest observer of human behavior, with profoundly modern insight into human psychology.
A few more tidbits from other politician’s Facebook pages:
* Hillary looks like she had a page during the campaign but deleted it after the election.
*Newt Ginrich, doesn’t mention his recent conversion to Catholicism on his sparse profile page, but there are two prominent discussions by fans on his topics page, discussing his running for prez in 2012.
*Republican party leader Michael Steele‘s box says he’s Catholic. Democratic leader Tim Kaine doesn’t fill anything in for religion but his favorite quote is from 1 Corinthians: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”
*Sarah Palin‘s got a pretty spare page, fills out party box with Republican but nothing in religious views box. Plenty of prayers from fans on her wall though.
*For all his talk of God, his membership to DC’s secretive “Fellowship” of high-powered believers, scandal-plagued Gov. Mark Sanford doesn’t have anything in his religion box, nor much else about religion in his profile. He did however post onto his wall this link to his now infamous letter for forgiveness after cheating on his wife. It includes this line, which, I guess, is as close to a religious views as any you’ll find on Facebook:
“I’ve always believed God’s laws were there to protect us from ourselves, and what has transpired over this last week vividly illustrates the damage that comes personally, and to those you love and respect, in doing otherwise.”