Obama's pulpit: Should elected officials be preaching theology?

I have been googling around for atheist opinions on the president's eulogy June 26th at the AME church in Charleston and haven't found anything. Was wondering if anyone else has reacted as strongly to Obama's performance as I have. Negatively, I mean.

I find it deeply offensive that a person in the highest elected position in the land took the opportunity to become a preacher  --  not just someone speaking for the spiritual side of human nature, but a real Christian preacher.  

Obama's use of the statement “We’ve been blind / but now we see" was appalling. First of all, who's the "We"? I hope he's not including any of the millions of Americans who have never been blind to the evils of slavery or to the white South's continued use of the Confederate flag to help haters bond.

And when he says:  “We don’t earn grace. We're all sinners. We don't deserve it. But God gives it to us anyway," should non-theists believe that he is speaking for us as well?  One could argue that he is speaking about grace in the broadest spiritual sense, a human goodness we are somehow born with but somehow don't always recognize.   But you can't do that in the context of this very Christian eulogy about the grace of a very Christian god who can deliver a Christian concept of grace to a Christian concept of sinners.

To ascribe this new ability to "see" as something related to the grace inherent in a monotheistic (Christian) god is downright insulting. It not only doesn't speak to those of us who don't believe in such things, but it puts Christian believers into the stupid category, implying that they can't recognize immoral, and in this case, racist behavior and attitudes on their own. They can, and they do, including so many of the so-called "saved" ones. Some just prefer to carry hate in their hearts and codify hate in their laws.  

James Fallows (www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/grace/397064/, June 27th) has written that Obama's eulogy illustrates the president's "bridging potential," saying that at "different points in the speech he uses it to mean: we Christians; we African-Americans; we members of the black church; we parents; we people of all faiths and any faith; we Americans." 

But not We non-theists.

The underlying message to people who don't buy into Christian ideology is that elected officials have the right to proselytize on a national pulpit, and those of us who don't ascribe to these same ideas should just turn the TV off for a day or two.

In fact, that shouldn't be happening under our Constitution. Obama has misused the office to deliver such a speech in a public forum. If he wants to preach to like-minded people, turn the cameras off, leave the body-guards at the door, and make sure the event stays private. 

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You have a point. It didn't antagonize me simply because I'm becoming numbed to the whole religion thing as it is articulated in the USA. But on reflection, you do have a legitimate point.

I cannot find fault with our good president for trying, probably unsuccessfully, to awaken the Xtian Right from their drunken stupor of racism and bigotry. Although as a black man himself, I may have respected him more if he would of just stated unambiguously "Hey white America, quit killing us! Enough already."

Maybe he's about to do something that may seem too pro-Muslim? (I don't mean that as cynically as it sounds.)

Wow, I never thought of that. Not cynical at all.

But I fear he's always been hypocritical when it comes to religion and race.  Regarding religion, 
Obama's admitted he was raised in a household that did not wear religion on its sleeve.  He said in an interview that his mother "was not a church lady," that by the time he was born his grandparents had joined a Universalist church, and that he didn't get active in churches until he came to Chicago (i.e., when he wanted to become a community organizer).  For such a person to take to the pulpit as he did on Friday is at best not believable, and at worst expedient and self-serving.

As for race, Obama was never forced to define himself as "black," being that he is a scion of a mixed family. It was a divisive, political stance that not only negated all the European genetics in him but nourished the notion so many Americans have that blacks and whites belong to definable genetic prototypes.  He would have done the country a lot more good had he proclaimed that he, like everyone else on the planet, is of mixed genetics. The "one-drop rule," which evolved in the 19th century and got codified into law in the 20th, was a totally political fabrication, one that was meant to assign status to a certain class of people.  It has no business in today's America, and he shouldn't have ever nurtured it by describing himself as black.

It's all just flapping his mouth saying what his puppeteers tell him. You know he didn't write it, LOL!!!

.... If he wants to preach to like-minded people, turn the cameras off, leave the body-guards at the door, and make sure the event stays private.

Julie, I'm glad you closed your post with the above.

Pandering to xian voters is so necessary in the US of A that I have Seneca's words about rulers using religion posted on my refrigerator. They remind me to pay less attention to what Democratic politicians say and more attention to what they do.

Far Right Republicans started destroying their party sixty years ago by expelling moderates.

Nixon in the mid-1960s saw their declining numbers and his Southern Strategy recruited the racist Southern Dems who had opposed the 1964 Voting Rights Act and other civil rights laws.

Reagan, as president, did more damage when he invited evangelical xians to join the Republican Party.

No and that is the truth so help me god.

.the designation of "In God We Trust" as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form a "ceremonial deism," protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content."

This is of course horsecrap and they know it.

If it were meaningless through repetition, then they wouldn't scream as if they were watching their kids be brutally murdered, when someone suggests removing it.

It's like watching a bunch of dominionists get upset at the thought that a creche scene be removed from in front of a courthouse.  The very symbolism we complain about is the point, and they know it, but they'll never admit to understanding the symbolism the way we do ("this town is Christian, no others need bother to speak up, period").  Instead they'll complain as if we were messing with their individual right.  Try pinning them down on why it's so important that it be in front of the courthouse when the church across the street will surely be just as public.

"If it were meaningless through repetition, then they wouldn't scream as if they were watching their kids be brutally murdered, when someone suggests removing it."

Neat. Hadn't thought of that angle. Thanks!

Even the President enjoys the First Amendment. 

And we have a Christian President. OMG, how could that have happened?

I've never understood this odd conviction amongst (some) atheists that he's "really one of us"

On the other hand, I also don't understand the odd conviction amongst the religious right that he's really a Muslim.

He does seem willing to acknowledge that not every American is a Christian or even a theist of any stripe, and that other parts of the world have their own creeds and it's politeness to respect them when you're visiting, but that hardly justifies either of these assumptions being made.

The game of "Us vs Them" is at least thousands of years old, long enough to achieve global status as a competitive, default human idealism.


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