On the US presidential race

03 Feb

You could do much worse than follow the series Thomas has been doing, boosted now by an ongoing account of Super Tuesday. I really don’t know how he knows all this stuff, but I am grateful. That it is all emanating from somewhere near the Georges River in S-W Sydney is itself quite amazing.

I mentioned in a comment on Thomas’s site just now an Obama piece I found recently. I was thinking of doing something about it on Ninglun on Blogspot, but I may as well note it here and now. It is interesting to me as it is connected to my favourite US evangelical site, Sojourners. See ‘Call to Renewal’ Keynote Address: Wednesday, June 28, 2006.

Good morning. I appreciate the opportunity to speak here at the Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America conference. I’ve had the opportunity to take a look at your Covenant for a New America. It is filled with outstanding policies and prescriptions for much of what ails this country. So I’d like to congratulate you all on the thoughtful presentations you’ve given so far about poverty and justice in America, and for putting fire under the feet of the political leadership here in Washington.

But today I’d like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we’ve been seeing over the last several years.

I do so because, as you all know, we can affirm the importance of poverty in the Bible; and we can raise up and pass out this Covenant for a New America. We can talk to the press, and we can discuss the religious call to address poverty and environmental stewardship all we want, but it won’t have an impact unless we tackle head-on the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America.

I want to give you an example that I think illustrates this fact. As some of you know, during the 2004 U.S. Senate General Election I ran against a gentleman named Alan Keyes. Mr. Keyes is well-versed in the Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson style of rhetoric that often labels progressives as both immoral and godless.

Indeed, Mr. Keyes announced towards the end of the campaign that, “Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.”

Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama.

Now, I was urged by some of my liberal supporters not to take this statement seriously, to essentially ignore it. To them, Mr. Keyes was an extremist, and his arguments not worth entertaining. And since at the time, I was up 40 points in the polls, it probably wasn’t a bad piece of strategic advice.

But what they didn’t understand, however, was that I had to take Mr. Keyes seriously, for he claimed to speak for my religion, and my God. He claimed knowledge of certain truths…

I think you now know who I hope is the next US President…

See also Pentecost 2006: Building a Covenant for a New America and Just back from Sydney University on Old Lines from a Floating Life.

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4 responses to “On the US presidential race

  1. Thomas

    February 4, 2008 at 12:07 am

    My favourite part of that speech was:

    “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

    Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible.”

    Sorry for the long quote. But there wasn’t much of a way to condense it and still have that remarkable reasoning and logic evident. This is the sort of thinking that needs to be in the White House, not the agenda-pushing candidates of either party. That’s the sort of thinking that should be in power everywhere as a matter of fact.

    Thank-you for the kudos on my posts. I’m glad that my regular readers are enjoying the posts, and not just the ‘blow ins’ haha. I guess that all my knowledge is coming from enjoyment out of the whole process. Like everyone, when you enjoy something, you do your best.

    A question Neil: Did you ‘support’ someone before Obama? Or are the rest one-and-the-same in as much as you are interested?

    A note: If you Google superdelegates, there are only two sites above my simple blog: Wikipedia, and a blog that lists every superdelegate. My little blog beats out the NYTimes, MSNBC, CNN, etc. That will be the only gloating I do.

  2. Davo

    February 4, 2008 at 4:20 am

    I think you now know who I hope is the next US President…

    No, and who cares? Just another Super rich person who will eventually fall into line with the Pentagon .. heh.

  3. Davo

    February 4, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Am much more interested in what Kevin Rudd intends to achieve,

  4. ninglun

    February 4, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Jim Wallis drew my attention to Obama a couple of years back; I have been following Sojourners for about three years, and went to hear Jim Wallis when he visited Australia in 2006. (He was an admirer of Gordon Brown also.) Kevin Rudd’s and Obama’s religious views are quite similar, I feel.

    Good to see you back, Davo. I suspect we are affected, even if you are right, and hope we do get something just a bit better than what they’ve had over there for the past seven or eight years.

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