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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is Barack Obama a Christian?

Andy Martin on Barack Obama's "search" for a church. Andy says "Big Drama Obama" is making a big spectacle out of the simple issue of finding a Washington church.

Internet Powerhouse Andy Martin says Barack Obama is a Christian, but just barely so

Martin believes Obama manipulates religion for political purposes

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“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”


Obama does not appear to have a deep attachment to any Christian denomination

Happy Easter to all

(NEW YORK)(April 12, 2009) The growing spectacle about Barack Obama's church attendance raises the obvious question: Is President Obama a Christian?

If Obama really had a religious denomination there would be no need for the "hunt" for a church. Rather, it appears that as he has done throughout his life, Obama is trying to "triangulate" religion to maximize the politics and minimize the religion.

Almost five years ago my columns were the first ones to focus on Barack Obama's Muslim family roots. Obama's thugs have since tried to demonize me for starting the "rumor" that Obama is a Muslim. I started no rumor. Obama now admits he comes from a Muslim family. Obama's prior denials, and the attacks on me personally, were totally malicious and politically inspired.

The fact that Obama created a "dirty tricks" operation to smear me during the campaign, and sent his mouthpiece out to attack me on national television, shows how seriously Obama & Co. take my reporting and analysis of his "faith." His smears and the attacks of the hard left media such as the New York Times were an extreme compliment to me. No doubt I will be attacked for this current column. I am only asking legitimate questions which are raised by Obama's own claims.

Barack is not a Muslim today, despite the fact that Islamic theology binds a male to the religious observances of his father. In America, neither Islam nor any other religious precepts can hold us involuntarily. We are free to worship as we wish, or not to worship at all. We are free to believe without any interference from beliefs imposed at birth.

Indeed, if Obama never set foot in a church, that would be his prerogative. His "religion" only becomes an issue because he has tried to exploit Christianity as a smokescreen for his own family's history of Islamic observance.

Ironically, Obama may have been drawn closer to Christianity because of Michelle [Robinson] Obama's family roots. African-Americans are among the most devout Christians, and the most regular attendees at Sunday services.

Prior to Michelle, the only stable religion Obama had ever experienced was the period during his childhood in Jakarta, when he worshipped with his stepfather Lolo Soetero. They went to the mosque. Other than that innocent period in his life, religion for Obama appears to have been a commodity to manipulate for personal and political gain, and nothing more.

Let me start with the obvious, and with a defense of Obama. There is nothing wrong with "church shopping." I am an Episcopalian. Every Sunday my rector, and probably most of the rectors in the Episcopal denomination, makes welcoming remarks. The rectors always invite "shoppers" to consider making their parish the visitors' new church home. So the fact that the Obamas are currently "looking for a church" is nothing sinister in itself.

What is interesting is that Obama claims to have been a part of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. "United Church of Christ" is usually shortened to "UCC." The UCC is a liberal Christian denomination. But, significantly, Obama is not saying his denomination is now the "UCC." He's not identifying any denomination.

Most Christians, by the time they reach 50 (Obama is almost 50), would be able to identify both their denomination and their religion. They would say, "I am a [Roman] Catholic," or (in my case) "an Episcopalian," or Greek Orthodox, or Baptist, or whatever. We know who we are by the time we approach 50.

Obama does not know who he "is" religiously, because he "is" not anything religiously. He is apparently not looking at the churches of any one denomination in Washington; he is just eyeballing churches in general. That is why I accuse him of "triangulation." The UCC has been thrown under the bus.

In the past I have often made the observation that we Christians have followers with every conceivable level of involvement. In my limited ministry as an usher I know most of the regular congregation. On Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, attendance will triple or quadruple. We welcome them all, even though these persons only appear (miraculously?) two or three Sundays a year.

Likewise, persons of the Jewish faith have people who only celebrate Passover and High Holy Days. I am not familiar with similar Muslin attendees, but even Obama's own sister said they attended mosque on "holidays."

So what does it take to be a Christian? Does Obama qualify? Maybe. Maybe not. As with so much of his life and personal history, there is a glaring gap in his religious records.

Being a Christian is not quite as easy as falling off a log, but it is almost as easy. You need to be baptized, and you need to profess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You don't even need to make a big issue of your "profession" of Christ in order to be accepted as a Christian. Just showing up in a church is a sufficient "profession" of the faith for most clergymen.

Has Obama ever been baptized? We don’t know. I do not believe that anyone can point to a specific date when Obama was actually baptized. Does the UCC do baptism differently? I don't know. Not that I am aware of. The UCC is considered a "mainline" protestant denomination whose views on theological, as opposed to political, issues are pretty traditional. Obama has never identified an actual date when he was baptized. The question remains. [Saturday night, my rector in his sermon emphasized the date of his baptism as a significant date in his life. He knew the day.]

I also don’t know how comprehensive the UCC record-keeping system is. In my church (Episcopal), we keep detailed records. Some years ago, I had to reconstruct a lost wallet, and went back to the Greek Orthodox church where I was baptized sixty years ago (my parents were Greek Orthodox and Anglican. I chose the Episcopal Church when I became an adult because their services were in English). The Orthodox church still had my original baptismal records. Episcopalians are also quite particular when it comes to baptismal records.

Obama's silence on his baptism raises questions. Why won't he provide a date? I have no idea.

But because it is Easter Sunday today, I am going to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I am going to say he is a Christian, but just barely so. He is clearly in the Christmas-and-Easter crowd.

To be an active Christian is to be involved in a church on a regular basis. Christianity may be an easy religion to adopt, but it is a hard religion to practice home alone. Christianity is a communal religion. We derive our great strength from community and continuity; this goes for all denominations within Christianity.

Although I once studied to be ordained, I decided we had enough priests in the Episcopal Church. My own lay ministry today involves being an usher, and greeting parishioners and visitors. I cannot tell you how deeply satisfying being even a lay minister can be.

Saturday night (yesterday) I came off the altar during the Easter Vigil service. One of our parishioners who has disabilities was there with a smile a mile wide. He grabbed me and hugged me. No amount of money in my life could compensate for the love that my friend expressed. Because of my background, and because I have a very gentle rector who understands our ministry to the least of our brethren is a critical part of our community ministry, I often work with troubled parishioners, and occasionally even difficult ones.

At one church where I previously attended, a Jesus Christ look-alike showed up one morning. The other ushers were perturbed. They asked me, "What should we do?" I said, "Do nothing. We'll monitor the situation." The person came and left without any incident. I was a fixture at that parish for decades, as an usher and crucifer. People would come and go from the city, but they knew I would still be at the same church in the same location when they returned. And I was.

Being of service, in small ways or large ways, nourishes the spirit. What I often sense in Barack Obama is that ultimately his real religion is himself. He worships himself. That’s why he appears to withdraw when crises arise, as in the current hostage crisis in Somalia. He has no spiritual reservoir to give him outer as well as inner strength in times of crisis. That is why he retreats. Into himself. His commitment in life is to himself, not to his parish, or his community or his church denomination. He is all sail and no anchor or, as his detractors believe, someone for whom religion is a convenience and nothing more.

So is Barack Obama a Christian? Probably. Does he practice the faith? Not remotely. This is a man, after all, who "attended" the same church for two decades but claims he never heard a controversial sermon. I love my current rector deeply. But if he started preaching racial hatred or something similarly loony, in due course I would be out the door. I have not listened to every one of my rector's sermons, but I have listened to enough to know who he is and what he believes.

Obama's claim he had no idea who Reverend Jeremiah Wright is, or that Wright was merely the product of "Black rage," is not a sufficient explanation.

Finally, Obama's drama about seeking a new church is a little unchristian. Actually, there is an Episcopal Church across the street from the White House. The President could literally walk across the street. And yes, they have a lot of experience with high-profile worshipers. Thus, Obama's claim that he is concerned with "security" is complete nonsense. I have worshipped at St. John's Episcopal and he would be welcome there without the need for the current drama. Big Drama Obama: walk across the street.

But even more than making a spectacle of church attendance, Obama would benefit from being part of a parish, participating in its ministries and making himself genuinely subservient to the needs of others. I derive immense gratification from writing, investigating, exploring, commenting and analyzing world events. But nothing could compare with the exuberant smile and bear hug I received Saturday night from the fellow parishioner who knows how much I love him, and how much I care about his well being. It was a gift from God.

And, after the parishioner hugged me, I looked at him, pointed to his pants, and said "tuck in." He did. He knows that I care about him, and that makes a difference in his life. It also makes a big difference in mine.

Barack Obama needs to make a difference in someone else's life besides his own and his own family's. That is the essence of Christianity.

Happy Easter President Obama, and Happy Easter to all of you. May the miracle of the Easter message grace your lives today, and every day of your lives. And a very special Happy Easter to my fellow parishioner, whose huge smile and warm hug Saturday night made all the difference in my life this Easter Sunday.

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Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of broadcasting background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He is currently promoting his best-selling book, Obama: The Man Behind The Mask. Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of

Martin comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of experience. He is regarded overseas as America’s most respected independent foreign policy, military and intelligence analyst on Asia and the Middle East. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York. He is an announced candidate for Barack Obama’s former U. S. Senate seat.


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