Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Source of Obama’s “Casual Slander” of Christianity

 

shutterstock_30039856I was reading a piece by the great Mark Hemingway this morning about Obama’s “casual slander” of American Christians. As Mark points out:

We’re at the point where the man well-intentioned liberal Christians like [E. J.] Dionne said could end the culture wars [i.e., President Obama] makes a flatly wrong and objectionable assertion that fighting poverty is an afterthought for Christians too often obsessed with abortion, and nobody bats an eye.

How can this be?

The Daily Reality of Christian Life

Now I’m a Catholic, and an ex-Jesuit. When I was professional religious, I spent almost all of my day on three things: education, prayer, and the works of mercy. Among Jesuit communities, priests are assigned duties along those same lines: most are teachers, but you usually get a few chaplains, parish pastors, retreat directors, and various other apostolates. The working day of your average parish priest usually includes the hospital run, where you visit the elderly from your parish. In other words, the daily life of the church is overwhelmingly pastoral. It’s a day-to-day effort to try and minister to people, taking care of their immediate needs. I can speak for the day to day life of my church, but others can speak for their church or synagogue also.

So, in addressing Hemingway’s question — how in the world can the president casually slander the church for not caring enough about the poor? — my answer is because the “most informed man in the world” gets his information from the media. And the daily life of the church is boring to the media; they’d rather report on culture wars, where they can slant the coverage to advance their agenda (usually to promote the sexual revolution).

Where Does President Obama Get His Information?

Remember the story about George W. Bush saying that if he wanted to find out what was going on in the world, he didn’t go to the media, he just called Condoleezza Rice into the Oval Office and asked her? The media was infuriated. Informing people was their prerogative. Shaping perspectives was their privilege. They’re like Capone gangsters dispensing booze. If anyone wants to know what to think, they had better get it from the media. “That’s a nice belief system ya got there – shame if anyt’ing was to happen to it…”

Obama displays a similar attitude. How often does he reveal that — when it comes to important issues — he learns about them the way everyone else learns: from the media? He’s not only an invention of the media, he has become the personification of it. He doesn’t know anything about the reality of the church because the media doesn’t know anything about it either.

Media Ignorance

Mark’s wife, Mollie, has made a career of displaying how poorly and ignorantly religion is portrayed in the media. I’d argue that the main reason for this is that most reporters don’t have a background in, and aren’t interested in doing the hard work of learning about, religion. To them, religion is boring, repetitive, and spends all of its time on old values held by old people. Old isn’t newsworthy. Young is newsworthy. Different and innovative values – promoted by different and innovative people – now that’s newsworthy. And wrong.

Questions

So when Obama claimed that religion spends too much time on sexual issues and neglects the poor, did that confirm your belief? If so, do you get your information on the work of the church (whatever church you belong to) mostly from the media? If you’re not religious, where do you get your information about the church – and do you trust the media to report accurately?

Image Credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

There are 52 comments.

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  1. Hammer, The Member

    Good post. I find out about what’s going on in the world by coming to ricochet every day and reading the WSJ. If I had the means to move into the country and withdraw completely, I would be very tempted to do so.

    • #1
    • May 16, 2015, at 12:25 PM PDT
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  2. Profile Photo Member

    KC: In this, you are a prophet among us….Thank you and AMDG! (Btw, I think it’s ‘former’, no ‘ex’ involved; you are still one of ‘the Company of Jesus’ methinks, KC…And glad I am for it!)

    • #2
    • May 16, 2015, at 12:29 PM PDT
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  3. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    How Can Obama Slander Christianity?

    By claiming to be an adherent?

    (Sorry. Rhetorical equivalent of a sitter at the net.)

    • #3
    • May 16, 2015, at 12:42 PM PDT
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  4. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KC Mulville: If you’re not religious, where do you get your information about the church – and do you trust the media to report accurately?

    Oh, hell no! ;-)

    • #4
    • May 16, 2015, at 1:14 PM PDT
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  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    More to the point, though, I’m not sure Obama’s multiple slanders say more about him or the American people who fail to recognize them as such. Either he’s very sly <I suppose that should have come with a trigger warning> about his accusations against Christians, whites, conservatives, Republicans, America, etc, always managing to elevate himself to the moral high ground (he’s a better Christian than the rest of us, doncha know?) — or many Americans have become credulous fools. Or, maybe both are true.

    • #5
    • May 16, 2015, at 1:49 PM PDT
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  6. Hammer, The Member

    Western Chauvinist:More to the point, though, I’m not sure Obama’s multiple slanders say more about him or the American people who fail to recognize them as such. Either he’s very sly <I suppose that should have come with a trigger warning> about his accusations against Christians, whites, conservatives, Republicans, America, etc, always managing to elevate himself to the moral high ground (he’s a better Christian than the rest of us, doncha know?) — or many Americans have become credulous fools. Or, maybe both are true.

    well… certainly the portion of americans who consume MSM and don’t question the stereotypes they see on television, etc… are credulous fools. But don’t give Obama too much credit. He’s just one of those fools who happened to fall into office.

    • #6
    • May 16, 2015, at 1:53 PM PDT
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  7. Red Feline Inactive

    Obama was once again revealing his ignorance and his ideological stance, with that remark about Christianity. The media reveals the same, with its attitude towards Christianity.

    I have seen for myself first hand, the good work the Christian Church does in so many areas of society. It was the Church who originally set up schools and hospitals. Doesn’t anyone know any history nowadays! It would appear Obama missed out on that in his expensive education.

    Whatever the media says about anything doesn’t in any way colour my own attitudes about anything. I consider the media vicious, raving hyenas in too many cases. Their blood-dripping fangs and claws seem sharpened, ready to pull anyone to shreds at any moment. That used to be called “tabloid” journalism. Nowadays, it seems to be seen as normal.

    I do think it is such a pity that the anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage stance of the Roman Catholic and Evangelical Churches probably does overshadow all their other good works in the minds of too many people. As demonstrated by Obama trying to cash in with that remark.

    • #7
    • May 16, 2015, at 2:09 PM PDT
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  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ryan M:

    Western Chauvinist:More to the point, though, I’m not sure Obama’s multiple slanders say more about him or the American people who fail to recognize them as such. Either he’s very sly <I suppose that should have come with a trigger warning> about his accusations against Christians, whites, conservatives, Republicans, America, etc, always managing to elevate himself to the moral high ground (he’s a better Christian than the rest of us, doncha know?) — or many Americans have become credulous fools. Or, maybe both are true.

    well… certainly the portion of americans who consume MSM and don’t question the stereotypes they see on television, etc… are credulous fools. But don’t give Obama too much credit. He’s just one of those fools who happened to fall into office.

    I dunno, Ryan. I tend to see things a little differently. We’ve never, in my memory, had a president speak to us this way. Some considerable portion of the population must come away from his every utterance feeling berated.

    There’s a spiritual dimension I can’t help notice. Satan is known as The Accuser. I see a lot of accusation coming from the Left — and Obama is the most “successful” leftist in American history. He leads the bunch.

    • #8
    • May 16, 2015, at 2:31 PM PDT
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  9. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As far as abortion is concerned, I can only remember my church officially asking me to 1) not have one; and 2) pray for a change of heart in those who would.

    Any official calls to action (attend a vigil or protest, contact a legislator, etc.) have always come from individual parishioners on behalf of organizations they worked with, such as Right To Life.

    When it comes to poverty, on the other hand, I’ve never been part of a parish that did not rally unceasingly for members of the faith to step up and take an active part in ministering to the poor. Donations were always welcome, of course, but active service by actual volunteers was always paramount – – soup kitchens, food drives, mentoring for the under-privileged, outreach to shut-ins, assistance for the elderly, setting up households for and sponsoring recent immigrants – – it never, ever stops.

    Leaving aside my opinion of an alleged Christian who would suggest that “too much time” is being frittered away on trying to prevent the slaughter of innocents, I’m incensed by his suggestion that “not enough time” is being devoted to alleviating the human misery out there that so many of the policies of his own party just help perpetuate.

    It’s enough to make one wonder what would happen, if all these faith-based charities with their misplaced priorities followed the women of Iceland’s lead and just shut the whole system down – – schools, hospitals, charities, shelters, soup kitchens – – the whole lot – – just for a day. Maybe the Lecturer-in-Chief would get a real inkling of what the Church is busy spending its time on.

    They’d never do it, though. Because they actually care so much – – literally – – for the poor.

    • #9
    • May 16, 2015, at 3:10 PM PDT
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  10. Rodin Member

    Obama knows well that he only slanders those that he intends to slander. Those that he does not intend to slander, regardless of their religious or irreligious affiliation, know he doesn’t mean them or what they do, and they do not take offense at his characterization of the “other.”

    • #10
    • May 16, 2015, at 3:32 PM PDT
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  11. Snirtler Inactive

    This post deserves an audience beyond Ricochet and should go to the main feed.

    Might I add a point to the one below from the OP?

    I’d argue that this neglect of religion is precisely because reporters don’t have the background to begin with, and they won’t do the hard work of learning about religion, mostly because religion is (to them) boring, repetitive, and spends all of its time on old values – and the people who hold those old values, i.e., old people. Old isn’t newsworthy.

    The media don’t do the hard work of learning about religion because they’ve bought into the secularist error that matters of faith are flat-out false and belong to the realm of fantasy or prefer the moralistic therapeutic deism that allows individuals to live in their own choice of fantasy.

    • #11
    • May 16, 2015, at 3:46 PM PDT
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  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    He is not slandering Christianity as a whole or his version of it he is slandering “white Christianity”, with white being the oppressors. Barack Obama was / is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ under Rev Jeremiah Wright for 20+ years. He is steeped in Black liberation theology as taught and worshiped by Rev Wright and his flock. Obama believes that traditional Christianity is a white man’s religion and a tool of white oppression and thus corrupt. He can criticize Christianity because from his perspective his black liberation theology version of Christianity is the true Christianity and has not be corrupted by the “white” man.

    Please feel free to google Black liberation theology to understand his beliefs. You may even want to read some of Obama’s books to get an understanding on how he sees things.

    • #12
    • May 16, 2015, at 4:01 PM PDT
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  13. Profile Photo Member

    Re: 12, FJG, you’re preaching to the choir here…Mr. Obama’s ‘affiliation’ – and its sociopolitical worldview – are all-too-familiar here – and didn’t necessarily require being spelled out in this particular post.

    • #13
    • May 16, 2015, at 4:22 PM PDT
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  14. Judge Mental Member

    KC: Back to the original question, as a squishy agnostic I probably get most of my knowledge of Catholic priests from movies. Not in the way you might think though.

    It’s not the movies about religion or the church, but the many additional cases where a priest is an incidental character in the story. For example, a son is going for his daily visit to his mother who is slowing passing in a hospital. When he arrives, he finds her parish priest already there… because he also visits every day. So your description of a typical day was exactly as I would have expected it to be.

    I think Hollywood at least does a much better job portraying religion when they’re not portraying religion.

    • #14
    • May 16, 2015, at 4:32 PM PDT
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  15. Richard Fulmer Member

    Let me suggest another explanation: The only time that most people on the far left come into contact with Christians is when they conflict with them on political issues. Currently, the two most important areas of conflict between the left and the Christian community are abortion and SSM.

    The left does not contact Christians in the course of dealing with poverty. To a Christian dealing with poverty means donating his or her own time and treasure. To someone on the far left, dealing with poverty means voting money out of another person’s pocket.

    Obama is talking from his own experience, because Obama and his experiences are what matter to Obama.

    • #15
    • May 16, 2015, at 5:20 PM PDT
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  16. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville

    Creepy Lurker:KC: Back to the original question, as a squishy agnostic I probably get most of my knowledge of Catholic priests from movies. Not in the way you might think though.[…] I think Hollywood at least does a much better job portraying religion when they’re not portraying religion.

    Interesting distinction – (1) portraying religion in general; versus (2) reporting news stories that are based on religion.

    I was thinking more about the specific news reporting, but you’re right, it probably includes attitudes in general.

    Frankly, my experience is exactly opposite what Obama criticizes. My parish is right near a large retirement community and near a few hospitals (I live just outside Baltimore, which because of Johns Hopkins, is Hospital Heaven). My church’s homilies, preaching, community events, etc., never address politics. It’s always about day to day living, and setting up clothing drives and food drives and homeless shelters … the corporal works of mercy. Many Catholics on Ricochet testify that they’ve never heard a homily on abortion or contraception.

    Politics? What the heck is Obama talking about? My parish never does politics.

    • #16
    • May 16, 2015, at 5:24 PM PDT
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  17. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KC Mulville:

    Creepy Lurker:KC: Back to the original question, as a squishy agnostic I probably get most of my knowledge of Catholic priests from movies. Not in the way you might think though.[…] I think Hollywood at least does a much better job portraying religion when they’re not portraying religion.

    Interesting distinction – (1) portraying religion in general; versus (2) reporting news stories that are based on religion.

    I was thinking more about the specific news reporting, but you’re right, it probably includes attitudes in general.

    Frankly, my experience is exactly opposite what Obama criticizes. My parish is right near a large retirement community and near a few hospitals (I live just outside Baltimore, which because of Johns Hopkins, is Hospital Heaven). My church’s homilies, preaching, community events, etc., never address politics. It’s always about day to day living, and setting up clothing drives and food drives and homeless shelters … the corporal works of mercy. Many Catholics on Ricochet testify that they’ve never heard a homily on abortion or contraception.

    Politics? What the heck is Obama talking about? My parish never does politics.

    Concur.

    • #17
    • May 16, 2015, at 5:41 PM PDT
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  18. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Whelp! Wait-a-minute. We have a deacon (lawyer) who tends toward liberation theology. He sometimes brings politics into his preaching, but it would always be something with which Obama would agree, if not echo himself. The hazards of “greed” (in which he somehow misses the lust for power being at least as damaging as the lust for material wealth), for example. Or the tendencies of conservatives to be legalistic — oy! Would that Obama was a little more concerned with the law!

    • #18
    • May 16, 2015, at 5:45 PM PDT
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  19. MJBubba Inactive

    Obama believes the lamestream media. That puts the best construction on this: he didn’t mean to lie; but he believes the anti-Christian media that have protected him for the past decade. It is no surprise that he trusts the people who have covered for him for so long.

    Thanks for linking to Mark Hemingway’s great article.

    • #19
    • May 16, 2015, at 5:51 PM PDT
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  20. 1967mustangman Inactive

    I think Snirtler is one to something. I am amazed at the number of people who don’t realize just what the church provides for the poor. Sure they are vaguely aware of the homeless shelter run by the church and they will line up to volunteer on the feel-good holidays, and some of them will volunteer more often, but it isn’t where their heart is.

    One of the reasons God asks us to tithe is not only as an act of faith and trust (hey God I could really use this money I am giving to the homeless shelter). But the more important reason I feel is it turns our hearts toward charity. As it says in Matthew “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21 ESV). When you give of your time and money you are invested in these works. When you give of the governments money there is no such investment.

     

    • #20
    • May 16, 2015, at 5:53 PM PDT
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  21. Lucy Pevensie Inactive

    Fake John Galt:He is not slandering Christianity as a whole or his version of it he is slandering “white Christianity”, with white being the oppressors. Barack Obama was / is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ under Rev Jeremiah Wright for 20+ years. He is steeped in Black liberation theology as taught and worshiped by Rev Wright and his flock. Obama believes that traditional Christianity is a white man’s religion and a tool of white oppression and thus corrupt. He can criticize Christianity because from his perspective his black liberation theology version of Christianity is the true Christianity and has not be corrupted by the “white” man.

    Please feel free to google Black liberation theology to understand his beliefs. You may even want to read some of Obama’s books to get an understanding on how he sees things.

    The vast majority of black Christians, it should be noted, have nothing to do with liberation theology.

    • #21
    • May 16, 2015, at 6:05 PM PDT
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  22. Lucy Pevensie Inactive

    As to the questions:

     … when Obama claimed that religion spends too much time on sexual issues and neglects the poor, did that confirm your belief? Certainly not.

    If so, do you get your information on the work of the church (whatever church you belong to) mostly from the media? No, I get my information on the work of my church from the church I attend–basically, direct observation.

    • #22
    • May 16, 2015, at 6:12 PM PDT
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  23. Profile Photo Member

    Lucy Pevensie:As to the questions:

    … when Obama claimed that religion spends too much time on sexual issues and neglects the poor, did that confirm your belief? Certainly not.

    If so, do you get your information on the work of the church (whatever church you belong to) mostly from the media? No, I get my information on the work of my church from the church I attend–basically, direct observation.

    And participation, it seems to me, Lucy.

    • #23
    • May 16, 2015, at 6:33 PM PDT
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  24. MJBubba Inactive

    The activity of Christians in making provisions for the poor put us at a political disadvantage. The Leftists are free to pour their discretionary funds into political campaigns, while, though we also make political contributions, we pour far more of our discretionary cash into missions. So we outnumber them but they outspend us in politics.

    (My state passed a constitutional amendment last fall to unwind an awful state supreme court ruling from 20 years ago that had gutted all of our restrictions on abortion. The pro-life groups were outspent almost 4:1, but we prevailed anyway. (It is good to live in a red state.) We have four times as many Christian crisis pregnancy centers as abortion providers, and all of the crisis pregnancy centers are supported by donations. The pro-abortion campaigners were very free about slandering Christians for not caring about the poor unfortunate women who need abortions.)

    In like manner, while we are spending our time preparing care packages, delivering meals on wheels, tutoring, building, repairing, cleaning, etc., they have tons of time to fill the internet with vile lies about how little we care for the poor.

    • #24
    • May 16, 2015, at 7:00 PM PDT
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  25. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Lucy Pevensie:

    Fake John Galt:

    The vast majority of black Christians, it should be noted, have nothing to do with liberation theology.

    Never said they did. Nor would I imply it. Christianity encompass all races, nationalities, etc. It is universal.

    I was very specific in pointing out that this Obama’s belief and the church he adopted. It is very important to him. He has dedicated at least one book to Wright and discusses how just much joy he found when he discovered Trinity.

    The OP question was how can Obama slander Christianity. The answer is because he believes it to be corrupt and a tool of the enemy. Of the oppressor. Thus he is not slandering it but calling it to task for the evil organization he believes it is.

    Christianity has fractured tremendously over the years. Sometimes it mutates to odd cults like Westboro Baptist, Full Gospel Tabernacle (snake handlers). I consider Obama’s church Trinity United and its Black liberation theology to be a similar type of corruption.

    • #25
    • May 16, 2015, at 7:39 PM PDT
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  26. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Nanda Panjandrum:Re: 12, FJG, you’re preaching to the choir here…Mr. Obama’s ‘affiliation’ – and its sociopolitical worldview – are all-too-familiar here – and didn’t necessarily require being spelled out in this particular post.

    I was not trying to preach. I was trying to point out that from Obama’s point of view he is not slandering Christianity but instead a tool of the enemy. The OP asked how he could slander and suggest that it is because he is uninformed as to Christianity’s good works and shared some of those works. I think that is untrue. I think he knows exactly what mainstream Christianity does and deems it evil since it furthers the goals of what black liberation theology considers the oppressor.

    • #26
    • May 16, 2015, at 7:50 PM PDT
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  27. Profile Photo Member

    Re: 26, “Preach” in the metaphorical sense; those reading this post are likely well-aware of the Rev. Wright’s slant on Christianity and his view of the USA as an oppressor…Merely meant that most here concur with your assessment and are conversant with – at least the outline – of Black Liberation Theology. No more, no less.

    • #27
    • May 16, 2015, at 9:11 PM PDT
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  28. E. Kent Golding Member

    Western Chauvinist:

     

    There’s a spiritual dimension I can’t help notice. Satan is known as The Accuser. I see a lot of accusation coming from the Left — and Obama is the most “successful” leftist in American history. He leads the bunch.

    Well Said.

    My own congregation is all over the map theologically and politically. The Slander comes out of the Leftists in my congregation also.

    • #28
    • May 17, 2015, at 3:36 AM PDT
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  29. Saint Augustine Member

    KC Mulville:Obama displays that. How often does Obama reveal that when it comes to important issues, he learns about them the way everyone else learns – from the media? He’s not only an invention of the media, he has become the personification of it. He doesn’t know anything about the reality of the church because the media doesn’t know anything about it either.

    Excellent.

    Mark Hemingway’s wife Mollie has made a career displaying how poorly religion is portrayed. I’d argue that this neglect of religion is precisely because reporters don’t have the background to begin with, and they won’t do the hard work of learning about religion, mostly because religion is (to them) boring, repetitive, and spends all of its time on old values – and the people who hold those old values, i.e., old people.

    This paragraph reminds one of that dreadful error from the New York Times about how Christians think the Resurrection was when Jesus went to heaven.

    So the questions of this post … when Obama claimed that religion spends too much time on sexual issues and neglects the poor, did that confirm your belief?

    Such an event would serve to verify my beliefs about Obama, perhaps, but not about religion.

    ‘Tis an old, old slander. David French, reliably clear-headed, does a good job correcting it here. Sorry if someone already linked to it in this thread.

    • #29
    • May 17, 2015, at 4:10 AM PDT
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  30. Saint Augustine Member

    Lucy Pevensie:

    Fake John Galt:He is not slandering Christianity as a whole or his version of it he is slandering “white Christianity”, with white being the oppressors. Barack Obama was / is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ under Rev Jeremiah Wright for 20+ years. He is steeped in Black liberation theology as taught and worshiped by Rev Wright and his flock. Obama believes that traditional Christianity is a white man’s religion and a tool of white oppression and thus corrupt. He can criticize Christianity because from his perspective his black liberation theology version of Christianity is the true Christianity and has not be corrupted by the “white” man.

    Please feel free to google Black liberation theology to understand his beliefs. You may even want to read some of Obama’s books to get an understanding on how he sees things.

    The vast majority of black Christians, it should be noted, have nothing to do with liberation theology.

    A few years ago when Herman Caine was bigger news I read a nice contrast–probably in WJS WSJ, maybe The Economist–about the difference between Caine’s church and Obama’s church.

    One church used the black experience to interpret Scripture. One church used Scripture to interpret the black experience.

    You already know, without my mentioning it, which church was whose.

    • #30
    • May 17, 2015, at 4:20 AM PDT
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