In the wake of his weekend rally, Glenn Beck kept up the drumbeat of criticism about President Obama’s religion, calling it a “perversion” and saying that America “isn’t recognizing his version of Christianity,” which Beck characterized as “liberation theology.”
Despite critique of Obama’s Christianity, a recent poll showed that nearly 20% of Americans believe falsely that the president is Muslim.
Why is there so much attention on Obama’s religion? Does it matter what religion the president is?
“God alone is Lord of the conscience.” This idea, from the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1649, has influenced everything from the separation of church and state in our constitution to the twelve step programs of our modern times. Asking any person to prove their faith is not only a morally reprehensible practice – there is no way for someone to prove what is in his heart of hearts – but also one that goes against this idea that has contributed to some of the basic rights of religion that we, as Americans, hold dear.
I am blessed to claim President Barack Obama as my brother in the Christian Reformed faith. Because of this, when I hear that some are questioning and even claiming that President Obama is lying about his faith, I feel this on a very personal level. It feels as if my own faith is under attack.
In the end, however, the president’s specific denominational identity is irrelevant to how he leads the country and the world. Far more important than the trappings of religion are the moral underpinnings that are upheld across all religions: “Loving thy neighbor,” a phrase taken from Christian scripture, is an ideal which transcends denominations. The Golden Rule, or “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” are iterations of this same ideal. And as a leader in the modern world, it’s an ideal which the president must absolutely hold close to his heart, regardless of what denomination or church he attends.