Obama panders to the faithful

I once posted that I thought President Obama was an atheist.  That was based on the absence of his pandering to religion, on his ambiguous discussion of faith in his autobiography, and on his shout-out to “nonbelievers” in his Inaugural Address.

Well, nobody knows what the man really believes, but it’s clear that he’s started pandering to religion in a big way—perhaps because the election is coming up.  Take a look at Obama’s goddy and unctuous remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday at the Washington Hilton.  I’ll reproduce just the last part, which I can hardly bear to read, about Obama’s visit to Billy Graham:

Mark read a letter from Billy Graham, and it took me back to one of the great honors of my life, which was visiting Reverend Graham at his mountaintop retreat in North Carolina, when I was on vacation with my family at a hotel not far away.

And I can still remember winding up the path up a mountain to his home.  Ninety-one years old at the time, facing various health challenges, he welcomed me as he would welcome a family member or a close friend.  This man who had prayed great prayers that inspired a nation, this man who seemed larger than life, greeted me and was as kind and as gentle as could be.

And we had a wonderful conversation.  Before I left, Reverend Graham started praying for me, as he had prayed for so many Presidents before me.  And when he finished praying, I felt the urge to pray for him.  I didn’t really know what to say.  What do you pray for when it comes to the man who has prayed for so many?  But like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say.

And so I prayed — briefly, but I prayed from the heart.  I don’t have the intellectual capacity or the lung capacity of some of my great preacher friends here that have prayed for a long time.  (Laughter.)  But I prayed.  And we ended with an embrace and a warm goodbye.

And I thought about that moment all the way down the mountain, and I’ve thought about it in the many days since.  Because I thought about my own spiritual journey –- growing up in a household that wasn’t particularly religious; going through my own period of doubt and confusion; finding Christ when I wasn’t even looking for him so many years ago; possessing so many shortcomings that have been overcome by the simple grace of God.  And the fact that I would ever be on top of a mountain, saying a prayer for Billy Graham –- a man whose faith had changed the world and that had sustained him through triumphs and tragedies, and movements and milestones –- that simple fact humbled me to my core.

I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment — asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong.  I know that He will guide us.  He always has, and He always will.  And I pray his richest blessings on each of you in the days ahead.

The thought of Obama falling on his knees “with great regularity” and asking God for guidance—I still have trouble believing that’s true—makes me ill.  And really: “I know that He will guide us.  He always has and he always will.”?  Is He guiding other countries, too, or just the U.S.?

128 Comments

  1. Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Just the US — you lot are Special, donchaknow? The rest of us just have to muddle through on our own steam, making up crap like universal health care and similar socialistic evils, LGBT rights, teaching science to our kids — ‘cuz Gawd ain’t guiding us.

    Really, y’all should pity us.

    • Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Eamon

      Canada has the National Prayer Breakfast as well:
      “The purpose of the National Prayer Breakfast is to invite leaders to meet in the spirit of Jesus Christ in order to pray together…”

      Do you think it possible that Harper would give a speech, similar to Obama’s, at the next Breakfast to be held April 30th & May 1st, 2012

      • Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Oh, I’m well aware of that — my wife and a couple of other reps from CFI attended two years ago, mostly to check things out. We are organizing a counter-event; keep an eye on our website. Yeah, I can totally see Harper saying crap like that at the Breakfast, while being much subtler in other venues.

      • Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Except that Billy Graham would be the one awed by Steven.

  2. Bizarro World
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I don’t really understand what Obama is trying to accomplish here. Anyone who would be swayed by this kind of Christian code-talk is already firmly of the opinion that Obama is a socialist Muslim terrorist bent on the destruction of America. Falling on his knees and pandering to their religiosity isn’t going to suddenly turn them all into Obama supporters in the general election.

    • orlando
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      But the fight is for Independents, mostly Christian-lites, and Obama has to fight for his share against an attractive (polls show women favor him) and very religious Romney.

      The reality is that if Romney wins, the LDS agenda (faith initiatives, no contraception, no Planned Parenthood) will win.

      • orlando
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        This is study linking low IQ to conservatism and prejudice. Basically, it says the lower your IQ, the simpler and more structured you like your beliefs. Hmm, Tea Party…this means you.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/intelligence-study-links-prejudice_n_1237796.html?ref=mostpopular

      • Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        If Romney wins, my agenda will be LSD. The only hope is that the Democrats wipe out Repugs in House and Senate, down to two or three members in each, and the possibility would then exist, theoretically anyways, that the Dems could muster enough votes to veto at least one of the three(faith initiatives, no contraception, no Planned Parenthood).

  3. Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    That is sick. I’ve read one of his books. That doesn’t sound like him at all. But…well…I guess we should be thankful that he’s hidden this side of himself for so long.

    • Badger3k
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Obama has become famous for pandering. He says one thing and does another – look at his stance on transparency and “open government” which he lams to want, while pushing completely in the opposite direction. This typical politicians pandering doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. He’ll position himself for votes – that’s all that matters to him.

      • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

        Do you know what arm-chair quarterbacking is? It’s when somebody criticizes somebody else’s decisions from the comfort of their arm-chair, without having to face the realities or the difficulties of the person making the decision.

        Obama happens to think that a mitigated victory is better than a noble defeat. Obama happens to know that to do any good, he has to find common ground with everyone. Obama happens to live in the real world, where the majority of the electorate does not believe in evolution.

        And yet he can fight successfully for gay rights, for women’s rights, for worker’s rights. Meanwhile, you can run your mouth about how it should be done, safe in the knowledge that you will never have to do it; you can flaunt your moral purity, safe in the knowledge that you will never actually be expected to make any difference.

        Is Obama perfect? No. Is he miles better than any other alternative? Yes. In a world where false equivalency is, indeed, false, settling for the merely better is an act of morality. And dare I say it, adulthood.

        • Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          Good for you, Yahzi. I get kinda tired of the constant criticism the man is subject to — you expect it of the g-d GOP, but progressives should definitely be a little more forgiving than they are. He’s disappointed me too, but just remember what we’ll be facing if Romney or any of the other nutso Republicans got into the white House because progressive support was too anemic.

  4. Steve
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    To paraphrase Lincoln, He guides some of the countries all of the time, and all of the countries some of the time, but He never guides all of the countries all of the time.

  5. Heber
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    There is a YouTube video in which Obama is giving a speech about the perils of taking morality from the bible. He cites ghastly verses from deuteronomy and leviticus just like any Dawkins or Harris would. This and one comment he made about people clinging to their religion and guns when the economy is bad, leads me to agree with Coyne that Obama is an atheist who’s been forced by a largely Christian electorate to posture an acceptance of faith.

    • Darrell E
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Forced?

      Either way you look at it, it is disgusting. Either he is sincere and this is straight up disgusting, or he is lying for votes which, though cliche, is also uber cynically disgusting.

      • Heber
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Does “compelled” give off a better ring?

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

        Sure it’s disgusting; but that’s politics. Sausage, anyone?

      • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

        For the record, he’s not lying. He’s speaking the language of his audience. Nothing he said violates his principles; he can implement every one of his policies without double-crossing the people he was just speaking to.

        Maybe you can’t tell the difference between diplomacy and lying, but that’s your problem.

  6. NoAstronomer
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    “He will guide us. He always has …”

    So what happened between 1861 and 1865?

    • Kevin
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Heck, what happened in 1787?

      If god was really guiding us, he wouldn’t have allowed the whole slavery thing to be embedded into the Constitution while it was being drafted.

      Unless, of course, slavery is just fine with god. And since I don’t see any prohibitions (merely instructions), I’m about to head to Canada and get me a slave from another nation. Cuz it’s biblical and all.

  7. TheMuse
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Obama is just trying to polish his Christian credentials to offer a contrast against Romney the Mormon since Mormonism apparently makes many queasy. After the elections you’ll hear no more of this talk.

    • orlando
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Agree.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      Yep, politics as usual.

  8. Steve Smith
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    When the clergy addressed General Washington on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation that he had never on any occasion said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However [Dr. Rush] observed the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes he never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the states when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of the benign influence of the Christian religion. I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.
    —Thomas Jefferson, the Anas (February 1, 1800). Published in The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, Federal Edition, Paul Leicester Ford, ed., New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904, Vol. 1, pp. 352–353.

    • blitz442
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Amazing, isn’t it? Most of our Founding Fathers were not religious, at least not publicly. They did not really suffer politically for their lack of public piety. Even the likes of Jefferson, who took a hacksaw to the New Testament and was openly derided by clergy as the “Virginia Voltaire”, never felt a need to pander to the Xtians to survive in politics.

      Centuries later, we have “progressed” to where any person trying to be President would be committing political suicide if they behaved as our Founders did.

      And giving the ultimate insult to injury, the justification for this modern American requirement of faith in God from our politicians is often based on a mythology about the open piety and religiosity of our Founding Fathers!

      • Dan L.
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        To be fair, at the time there was no direct election of senators and the state governments decided how to nominate presidential electors (very few if any opted to leave the decision up to popular vote). Jefferson only ever had to win over other rich white land owners.

      • orlando
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Scientific progress, religious regress. I think we may have to adopt the model used in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, wherein scientists had to cloak their developments in religion to have the “magical” everyday devices accepted by the superstitious masses.

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      My wife and I visited the memorials at ground zero yesterday (We found them very moving) and as we were leaving we started to pass St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church. We decided to stop in and look around. Although I am an atheist, I enjoy the architecture and the art I find in churches so I stop and take a look at them from time to time. Well, this church has a replica of George Washington’s private box on display and according to the churches archives: ” Following his inauguration at Federal Hall, George Washington attends thanksgiving service, presided over by Bishop Provoost, at St. Paul’s Chapel, a chapel of the Parish of Trinity Church. He continues to attend services there until the second Trinity Church was finished in 1790. St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City”. Although I wish it were so, I find it hard to believe that George Washington didn’t at least want his countrymen to think he was a Christian just as Obama does.

  9. Steve Smith
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Now let it be written in history and on Mr. Lincoln’s tombstone: “He died an unbeliever.” —William H. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner in Springfield since 1844, Abraham Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, 1896. Quoted in Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby, 2004.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      Freethinkers cannot be recommended highly enough.

  10. jay
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I’ve given up on him long ago, after he totally sold out on the core principles of civil liberties and Gitmo. (The ACLU has found Obama’s Justice Department even more stubborn than Bush’s)

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      That’s great. Enjoy your civil liberties under the Republican theocracy. I mean that seriously – I don’t care, because I don’t live there anymore. :)

  11. Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Power corrupts!

    /@

    • Dominic
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      …unless you are Robespierre!

      Seriously, before Obama gets re-elected (?) he is going to have really shiny knees.

  12. Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    The speech made me ill, too. But I guess he has to do it to get reelected.
    What first caught my attention was his reference to Frederick Douglass among the people of “faith” who inspired him. Douglass wasn’t exactly a Christian; more like an agnostic.
    And I figure the last time Obama “fell to his knees” was when he dropped a contact lens.

  13. Dunstar
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    If there are non-believing clergy then couldn’t there be secretly believing athiests?

    • orlando
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I doubt it. Once you see the big con for what it is, it is hard going back. It would be like suddenly believing Santa was real again.

    • Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      That would require that there be a social milieu where atheists were the hegemonic majority, and repudiating atheism meant ostracism and marginalization (maybe in some Communist countries, though of course there atheism is only one aspect of a much larger ideological norm). Or hypothetically, a couple where one (the atheist) happened to be a domineering, abusive personality and their theistic partner was afraid to dissent openly.

      IOW: rare at most.

  14. sasqwatch
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    “This man who had prayed great prayers that inspired a nation, this man who seemed larger than life…”

    An earlier release of tapes in 2002 shocked fans of Graham, who is heard agreeing with Nixon as the president rails against liberal Jews’ political activism and media clout. Graham tells Nixon how Jews befriend him but adds, “They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country.”

    I wonder if Graham prays that no more of his candid conversations see the light of day.

  15. Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I too had hoped that he would be the “Separation of Church and State” president. My hopes faded quickly as he continued, and expanded the “Faith-based Initiatives” started under George W. Bush. Either he is merely the consummate politician, or a sheep in wolves clothing.

  16. DrDroid
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Recall this speech by Obama:

    It doesn’t sound anything like the BS about Billy Graham. Obama is just another power-hungry politician.

    • Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Obama’s famous 2006 speech on religion starts out nicely by insisting on a secular basis for public policy, but it goes downhill from there. When Obama takes up the story of Abraham’s attempted murder of Isaac, he observes that we would arrest anyone we saw acting the way Abraham is portrayed as acting. But here is Obama’s explanation: “We would do so because God does not reveal Himself or His angels to all of us in a single moment. We do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be” (The Audacity of Hope, p. 220, quoted nearly verbatim in the speech). So we arrest an abusive father only because we don’t enjoy Abraham’s (self-authenticating?) experience purportedly of God. Obama’s explanation implies that there’s a kind of experience you could have that would make it morally justified for you to act as Abraham did, which is bollocks. Obama missed an excellent chance to condemn this biblical story as a hallmark of morally outrageous religious thinking. He was on a roll, and he blew it.

      • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:36 am | Permalink

        But – we still arrest Abraham!

        How could you miss that? Obama is acknowledging the personal truth of these people – even while he warns them that he will still arrest them for ignoring public truth.

        What else did you want him to do, convert them to atheism on the spot? Tell you what – you get them to believe in evolution, and then Obama will make them into atheists. Until then, cut the guy some slack.

        • Posted February 13, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          I DIDN’T miss it: I can read the quotation that I reproduced. It’s Obama’s explanation for our arresting Abraham that I’m criticizing: according to Obama, it’s only our ignorance — our failure to see and hear what Abraham sees and hears — that explains why we arrest him. A lunatic today could help himself to that reasoning: “The rest of you are just too ignorant to see why I’m doing the right thing!” Obama’s answer: “Maybe we are.”

          How could you miss that?

  17. blitz442
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Why is Obama doing this? I am not naive so I understand that anyone who wants to actually make a difference and get involved in American politics (instead of sniping on the internet like me) will have to be careful around religion and make a few concessions to it. Therefore, there is a certain amount of, shall we say, tactical hypocrisy on religion that I am willing to tolerate.

    But prayer? And not just the use of prayer in sense of “I’m showing concern for you and your plight” – he seems to talking about INTERCESSORY prayer. As in “The Universe is operating in a way that I don’t like. I will now pray to a Deity who will step in and alter the causal change of events to a more desirable reality. Absent my prayer, these changes will not happen.”

    The belief in intercessory prayer is an amazing combination of illogic (if something is worth changing in the Universe, surely the perfect Deity that you worship will do it on his own accord), arrogance (your prayer is the crucial causal agent in beneficial changes in the Universe), and apathy.

    It’s also a bad political tactic. Who is the type of voter that believes in intercessory prayer? They are people who will not vote for Obama under any circumstances, and certainly not because he drops a few lines about Billy Graham and dropping to his knees in prayer.

    So he’s not picking up anybody by pandering in this way, and is likely irritating his core. Even if people will still vote for him (as I’m sure Jerry will), acts like this may make people less vocal in their support.

    • blitz442
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      “causal change of events”

      oops, switch that to “chain of events”

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:33 am | Permalink

      This statement : “I am not naive” is directly contradicted by this statement: “will have to be careful around religion and make a few concessions to it.”

      It would appear you are naive about just how much influence religion plays in American politics.

      • Bruce S. Springsteen
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        So just in principle, Yahzi, which babies do you not think should be sawed in half in the name of diplomacy and compromise? Lying and temporizing about the largest questions of reality and moral character is apparenty beneath concern, so what truths are worth telling regardless of politics?

  18. Tim
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Jerry and others who think BO has ‘hidden’ this side of himself – I guess you were paying attention in 2008. Ever since Obama decided to retain Bush’s office of faith-based programs, it has been abundantly clear that Obama thinks he can run with the best of the politicians in, how do you put it, ‘osculating theocratic butt’. Bush’s goddy political patronage opertation is alive and well.

    As everyone keeps asking, whose vote does BO think he’s going to get by doing this? Practically anyone who would buy into religious ass-kissing is convinced he’s a Muslim commie.

    • Tim
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Oops. That should have said, …I guess you weren’t paying attention…

    • daveau
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      We certainly didn’t notice this side of him when he was our Senator, or when he was in the state legislature. I think he behaved like a Hyde Park liberal, which is JAC’s neck of the woods. We should know better, but clearly it is hard to shake off those kind of assumptions.

  19. dallila
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Of course he is a politician. Can’t get to be president w/o being a politician. I do like that he at least nods to nonbelievers, though:

    “Treating others as you want to be treated. Requiring much from those who have been given so much. Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper. Caring for the poor and those in need. These values are old. They can be found in many denominations and many faiths, among many believers and among many non-believers.”

    • Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I noticed that bit too. I’ll cling to any little thread.
      But I hadn’t heard then about the Graham part of his speech–the thread is getting thin…

      • dallila
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Agree…getting thin. I do get the frustration in this post.

        • S A GOULD
          Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          It’s not going to make any difference at all to the TeaParty crowd. At the end of the day, no matter WHAT he says Obama is not half-white, hei is BLACK.

    • JBlilie
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      I noted that as well. What other polician in the US has EVER given a shout out to us non-believers, eh? NONE!

      He does it with regularity. He did it in his inaugural address.

      Now, you can say this is pandering to the atheist crowd if you like (ok, ok, clean up the coffee you blew across the desk) but I think it’s geniune (he really has nothing to gain politcally from it.)

      And another again, it may be a sign of the rising numbers of non-believers in the US.

      Another sign that the Gnus are doing good work: I’ve been pinged by several other non-believers in the last couple of years. This has never happened before. The books and appearannces of the prominent Gnus has given heart to the atheists in the US (and elsewhere) and, I think, their books have crystalized the thoughts on the subject for many, many people (see the “Convert’s Corner” on Dawkins’ site). I know they did for me.

  20. Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    it’s scary…much better to ask the data and other people then delusional stuff…

  21. Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I like Obama but I never liked this part of him.

    Back in 2007 he gave this “call to renewal” speech:

    I didn’t like his scolding of secularists. But people are package deals.

  22. Ken Pidcock
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Man, that is some serious pandering.

  23. Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    “I don’t have the intellectual capacity . . . of some of my great preacher friends here that have prayed for a long time.”

    Did Obama really say this?

    • moochava
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      If I were less cynical–or more cynical, I can’t decide which–I’d think this is a dogwhistle saying “These people are idiots but I gotta do this.”

      Maybe I’m just projecting.

      • dallila
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        I was “projecting” or hoping in a similar way:

        “i don’t have the intellectu…uhh..*cough cough*…I mean lung capacity….”

      • Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        I’ll cling to that. I think even mentioning Billy Graham is a bit of a dogwhistle in the same direction (or rather, at the same pitch). I mean, if he said Tammy Bakker or Ted Haggard, even they would get it.

  24. John D
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Gotta say that Obama is playing this very skillfully. Please note that in his speech he specifically mentions that non-religious people can have good values. I give him credit for this specific mention.

    The dood does need to get reelected and the vast swath of America believes in god in the same way BO is professing. His god is a fuzzy and nice god who wants us to be good to each other.

    Come-on gang. If you don’t see this as progress you are a bit too jaded.

    Thanks for reproducing this part of the speech Dellila

    • JBlilie
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      +1

      He’s WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than the alternatives. Think about it gang. P.Z. or Dr. C. ain’t getting elected in the US.

      Only one member of the US Congress, POTUS, or SCOTUS, is publicly atheist. This just proves something that we already know: Politicians lie.

  25. John D
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    PS – If BO tried to aggressively get rid of Bush’s horrible faith based initiative the press would skin him alive. He tinkers with this hot potato at his own peril. Perhaps he can be more aggressive in his second term if he gets one.

  26. Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    What did you expect? It comes as no surprise that the maximum level apparent religiousness should come at the National Prayer Breakfast? Did you expect him to boldly state his atheism there? He was a member of a church after all. What more can you ask for in a President than that you suspect that he might be an atheist despite going to church?

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Right on, guys. It’s disgusting, but you gotta be church-friendly at the very least to be elected president in this benighted nation.

  27. Veroxitatis
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    The US will be seen to have grown up only when a President’s spokesperson can respond to a Press inquiry about the President’s beliefs with a retort such as Alistair Campbell’s when PM Blair was asked about his beliefs – “We don’t do God”.

    • Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Yet Blair proved to be a closet Catholic. Odd.

      • Veroxitatis
        Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        You miss the point. The issue is not Blair’s or Obama’s beliefs, but rather that in the US the religious beliefs of a politician matter to a majority of the electorate whereas in Britain they don’t.

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

      or Julia Gillard’s “I don’t. Next question, please.” :)

  28. Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Despite his campaign promises Obama has done nothing special as president and has reversed very few of the excesses of his predecessor. Now he’s just another politician pandering to the electorate and the media in an election year. Regardless his Hello Kitty Christianity and limp shout outs to the faithless, as a politician his creed is “First, get elected.”

    • Steve
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      And the second is “Get re-elected.”

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Last time I had that thought was 1980. Didn’t work out too well.

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Obama has done nothing special as president

      The end of DADT? The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act? There’s many more little things like that, too, that are extra special, like his mentioning nonbelievers in his inaugural address. We’ve never had a president like him before.

      His pandering is not welcome by me either, but the the reasoning is transparent: he is most likely running against a Mormon (not a Christian in the Trinity-believing sense) in November.

      • Posted February 5, 2012 at 4:48 am | Permalink

        “extra special, like his mentioning nonbelievers in his inaugural address. We’ve never had a president like him before.”

        Would that be the same inaugural address he invited Rick Warren to pray over? I voted for Obama (and will again) and even dared to hope he’d play the game differently. I was disappointed but unsurprised when he didn’t. His transparent pandering – attending the alter call at an evangelical religious right litmus test in order to improve his chances of being reelected – is also disappointing and unsurprising. He’s just a politician, the figurehead of just another political party which will not give a rip about nonbelievers unless and until we can deliver enough votes to swing elections. Until that day, other than being black he’s very much like many presidents we’ve had before.

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:41 am | Permalink

      I guess you are a) not gay and in the military, b) have health insurance and no preexisting conditions, c) can’t pick Iraq out on a map, d) don’t know what a stimulus is or why even an inadequate one is better than none at all, e)… oh who am I kidding. You’re not interested in facts.

      • Posted February 5, 2012 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        And I guess you’re not discussing the effect the president’s craven posturing at the national prayer breakfast might have on the atheist, agnostic, freethinking, non-accommodationist agenda, which is what most folks here are chatting up. I voted for the man, and will again, but not because he’s demonstrated a deep commitment to secular values or the rights of non-believers.

  29. Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    When I read Dreams from my Father – well ok, listened to Barack Obama read it to me – I listened fairly intently to his narrative about finding his church as I was very aware of the “is he or isn’t he?” debate going on in some atheist circles. It left me with a wry grin on my face. What I had heard was skillful wordplay by an articulate politician: is was as ambivalent as it could be to ensure that the reader would take away from it whatever impression they were hoping to find in the first place.

    Obama “believes” in being a politician.

    • John D
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Agreed… he is a very talented man.

    • MadScientist
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it’s depressing. Irving Kristol would have been so proud.

  30. Nicolas Perrault
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Nauseating to be sure. Swallowing this repulsing medicine might give some protection against the poisonous newt, though.

    • JBlilie
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Obama rubs his hands in glee at the thought of going up against Newt. The only one of the GOP dweebs who gives him pause is the eventual nominee: Romney.

      • Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        “the eventual nominee: Romney”

        Reminds me of the Tom Lehrer line:
        “Yes for Paradise the Southland is my nominee:
        Just give me a ham-hock and a grit of hominy*”

        *I had to look it up: dried corn (maize) treated with an alkali to make it soften and swell.

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      Please don’t forget the whole lineup of Repugs who have been making asses of themselves for the last several months. They all claim Christian values, but don’t seem to want to adopt the main one–charity for those in need

  31. sasqwatch
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    A toxic agnostic.

    Excuse me while I vomit. Yet another reason to despise accomodationist turds.

  32. Scott
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who believes that Obama is anything other than a liberal christian is delusional. He’s NOT an atheist or even agnostic. He really believes all of the mumbojumbo (consistent with the liberal christian view). His atheist supporters need to accept that he is poisoned, just like the majority of the rest of the country.

    He is also probably an accomodationist, which is common among the liberal christians. This is why he tips his hat to nonbelievers; it’s consistent with his overall philosophy of inclusiveness.

    But that doesn’t mean he’s a nonbeliever, himself.

    • Mary
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      I agree 100%. People need to stop believing that he’s some type of prophet…especially atheists!

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:42 am | Permalink

      I disagree. Every thing I have ever heard him say is consistent with metaphysical naturalism.

      That’s not something that happens by accident.

  33. MAUCH
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Get over it people, our president is not an atheist. Here is the bottom line that you should be considering though; our president believes that ones faith should used only for reflection into ones personal life. He has an unyielding principle that ones faith should not be used to construct public policy. We may not feel that this meets our standards for a truly secular governance but in our current times that is the best available and the alternatives out there are far scarier.

  34. johnnyrodgersmorris
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    This makes me gag to the max.

    I always thought we should take him Uat his word…that he is a Christian. It looks like I was right…

  35. Mark
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I too believe Obama is an atheist. But many of his Black supporters I work with are still convinced he is a biblical literalist. I am sure Obama knows how very religious Black Americans are. This could another reason for the pandering. Early in his political career, Obama knew in order to get any support in the black community, he had to have to “come to Jesus” moment and go to church.

    While I did not vote for Obama, I was hoping one day he might give a speech where he would state while he did believe in god, these parts of the bible or koran that conflict with science, he did not believe. Becoming a more secular nation might take small baby steps, that same way I left Christianity.

    Our political class must know that pandering to bible literalists is the major reason why American students test so poorly when it comes to science. I work for an environmental agency where half of our engineers are immigrates are none are native born Black Americans.

    As for the “National Prayer Breakfast” it was started by a secretive elitist right wing religious cult called “The Family”. Every time the president attends, he is giving legitimacy to this cult. At least the President could have gone to a liberal Black church and hold an alternative prayer breakfast.

    I believe Christopher Hitchens was right. We need more atheists to run for political office. They might not win, but it has to start somewhere.

    • Posted February 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Obama IS preparing the ground for non-believers to run in the future.

  36. Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I too hoped that Obama was a secret secularist. Apparently, he is not but still remains the closest thing we have had to a secular president for a long while. I would take a hypocritical president over a religious nut any time. Obama needs to do what will get him elected. I forgive him his religious moment. “A little religion is acceptable only when the alternative is worse.” anonymous

  37. Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Pander is OK if it gets him elected. All candidates pander. It’s part of the game.

  38. Motorhead
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    What a long, slow blowjob to the “godly”. Quite well-executed, with all the right strokes in the right places.

  39. Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    As atheists, of course, we’re disturbed by President Obama’s apparent pandering to the majority religion. But honestly, as a politician what other choise does he have? He would be of no use to us if he condemned religion only to be replaced by the voters by a Republican theocrat.
    Does anyone here actually intend to vote for anyone other than Obama as a result of his prayer speech? I certainly don’t.

    • Posted February 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      “He would be of no use to us if he condemned religion only to be replaced by the voters by a Republican theocrat.”

      This presumes he’s “of any use to us” now.

      • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:45 am | Permalink

        Again: you’re not gay and in the military, sick and without health insurance, or unemployed. So ya, Obama’s no use to you.

        On behalf of all of them, I sincerely apologize that you didn’t get your goddamn pony.

        • Posted February 5, 2012 at 4:32 am | Permalink

          “you’re not gay and in the military, sick and without health insurance, or unemployed.”

          I’m sorry, I thought the topic under discussion was the effect the president’s craven posturing at the national prayer breakfast might have on the atheist, agnostic, freethinking, non-accommodationist agenda. If you think “he’s ‘of any use to us’ now” please chime right in.

          • Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            MCB, maybe you’d rather see one of those dumbass Republicans who have been wasting our time lately in the White House. Don’t you realize most voters have a Fox “news” mentality?

            • Posted February 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

              Barbara, As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I voted for Obama, and I will again, precisely because I prefer him to any of the Republicans striving to become his opponent in November. He is the expedient choice, but when it comes to the issue of pandering to the religious powers that be, he has demonstrated he is not a principled choice.

  40. David
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I have always viewed the choice of American Presidents as the choice between the evil of two lessers.
    Even if it is sincere at least Obahma isnt as bonkers in real life, as the other choices obviously are, and if it isnt sincere good on him, hes taken one for the team, which, in this case, is the planet Earth and everything on it.

    David, UK

    • Dawn Oz
      Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Given that it would be impossible to be elected in the US unless one was a Xtion,and Obama is schooled in the many dark arts of persuasion; and given the minuscule amount of time he spends discussing theology, I don’t mind him throwing out a catchphrase from time to time. The Republicans on the other hand, just sound plain scary.

  41. Hempenstein
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    To echo an earlier post, what does anyone expect him to say at the Nat’l Prayer Breakfast? That he doesn’t put any stock in any of that? Or decline the invitation? There’d be no end of railing about that. His job is to try to get everyone into the same boat, and if this deflects any of the Jeremiah Wright hysteria, which is being regurgitated as we speak, then mazel tov. I’d far rather have Obama in the WH for the next 4yrs and be occasionally disappointed that he’s not quite as wonderful as I thought than to have the Mormon Meteor there and be occasionally surprised that he’s not as clueless as expected. (I’m unfairly tarring the actual MM, which was a cool thing). Besides, once the MM is anointed as the nominee, expect to see a lot more of those irritating ads about what superhumans Mormons are. Obama will be running against those ads, as well.

    This seems a good place to slip this in, too – when Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, the secretary of the Nobel Committee (Medicine or Physiology) and his wife were there; I heard this story from her. She ate at Michelle’s table at the banquet, and asked Michelle how she would care to be addressed. “Just call me FLOTUS,” was the reply. (For you non-Yanks, this is the acronym for First Lady Of The United States; it has a long history.) I can’t imagine any of her predecessors ever saying that. They are both an enormous breath of fresh air vs. both recent history and the future alternative.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Or decline the invitation?

      YES! This is exactly what non-fundy-Xtian candidates need to do.

    • Occam
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/02/koch-brothers-pledged-60-million-defeat-obama/48291/

      $$$ “The Koch Brothers Pledged $60 Million to Defeat Obama” $$$

      If Paris is well worth a mass, as French King Henry IV is quoted upon his conversion to Catholicism in order to secure his accession to the French throne, then a prayer is well worth the White House. Against so much $$$, one is reminded of Brecht’s Threepenny Opera:

      First comes the grub, then comes morality.

      • Persto
        Posted February 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        What is Obama’s Edict of Nantes?

  42. Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Obviously there’s some lying going on, but the question now is how much in our present game of politics is too much.

  43. rook137
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Maybe, just maybe…Obama is just another mindless faith-head where God and religion are concerned. Based on the comments posted here, it seems to me that many people are willing to give him a pass on his pandering to the religious. I don’t. I equally despise the religious pandering of Democrats and Republicans. Glad I don’t belong to either one of these parties, not that you can really tell the difference any more.

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      It’s not that we are willing to give him a pass; it is that we can tell the difference between diplomacy and deceit.

      But why am I wasting my breath? If you can’t tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, then you’re just not interested in facts.

      • Bruce S. Springsteen
        Posted February 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Again, what lies and evasions if any) are beyond the pale, even in the battle to keep the demonic Republicans from dominating our politics? Your ethics seem a bit Manichaean. Are all calculating “diplomatic” prevarications justified, up to and including spreading superstitious bullshit for our children to absorb and emulate? After all, the president said it’s so, so it must be — or he lied, so it must be cool to lie about your most deeply held beliefs for strategic political advantage. What lesson are we imparting again? I’m losing the thread.

  44. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I hope he’s just lying. Politicians do that all the time. If he’s telling the truth about praying then he might just act on it – who ya gonna invade next ‘cos God said to do it?

    Or he could be taking the piss, and nobody’s got the joke yet. I’d love to think that’s true.

  45. Egbert
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Anyone who believes in the great dictator in the sky is not a coherent liberal. That’s an important truth to hold in your mind when you invest faith and emotion into political leaders.

  46. Potsmaster
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    I think it’s time to start seriously lobbying for a National Blasphemy Brunch.

    • ForCarl
      Posted February 4, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Maybe he needs a special invite to speak at the Reason Rally in March. That’ll force him to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to pandering to non-believers. I’m tired of the bones he throws at us because they never have any meat on them.

  47. Kharamatha
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    So Obama is telling us that he is a superfluous middle-man? Good to know.

  48. Posted February 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Obama is pandering to the Christians. If you do not do that, you do not get elected in America. What would your prefer? A Republican who panders to Christians. These are the alternatives.

    When it comes to the Bible one can find a lot of contradictory information. If you have a consistent moral sense – and I believe Obama has a fairly consistent moral sense – then you have to ignore certain parts of the Bible. (Likewise if you believe in science you have to give up on at least some parts of the Bible). If Obama is a Christian, which he has always said he is, that does not necessarily mean he buys everything that is in the Bible. So I am not surprised if he criticizes some passages in the Bible. But he has not claimed to be an atheist, despite the critique. Kind of hard lines to accuse him of apostasy.

  49. Posted February 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice to live in a normal country (anywhere except Idiot America) where politicians don’t have to suck up to religious insanity.

    Obama who accepts evolution said “We can all benefit from turning to our Creator, listening to Him.”

    Obama is saying there’s a magical creator, it magically created our species, it has male sex organs, it can communicate with us, and it would want to do that even though this is an insignificant planet in the middle of nowhere.

    Is Obama really that stupid? I don’t think so.

    • Quinn O'Neill
      Posted February 5, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      An insignificant planet in the middle of nowhere? According to Obama, this is an “extraordinary planet that God has made for us”.

  50. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Did Graham build his retreat atop a mountain so it’s closer to where holy bodies occasionally ascend/are assumed?

    Is it any easier getting a “mountaintop retreat” through the eye of a needle than it is a camel?

    Does Graham break out anti-Semitic slurs for all our presidents, or just good buddy Dick Nixon?

    If BHO hadn’t have gone to Graham’s “mountaintop retreat” would the “mountaintop retreat” have come to BHO?

  51. Posted February 5, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    The first black president had a great opportunity to be a beacon of intellect. What on earth is false religiosity? Surely all religiosity is false. Well never mind good old President Obama turned out to be just another political trickster using creator reverence as a lever to power.

    • Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Cliff, I think I’ve been an atheist about 50 years. I’d rather see Obama re-elected than be so purist that our voters will replace him with a mormon or some other born-again type the Repugnacans are trying to cram down our throats.

  52. Nick Evans
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry, He isn’t only guiding the US: He is also guiding Iran, and half the Israeli cabinet. Hope that helps.


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