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Background and actual working faith are two different things.

Reader comment on item: Obama a Muslim? Tales from the Campaign Trail

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Jun 25, 2012 at 05:33

Speaking as someone who has never voted for Obama nor ever plans to, I make the following observations on Kincaid's interview with Wright:

(1) I think it's universally known that Obama has a Islamic background chiefly through his mother's marriage to Lolo Soetero and Obama's childhood years in Indonesia, where he was seen as a Muslim.

(2) However, Obama's Islamic background is not necessarily incompatible with having an actual Christian faith NOW. Numerous people become Christians, remain such, and die such even though they may have been born and raised in other religions. I know very many such people. To speak of their Islamic, Daoist, Buddhist, or Evolutionary Materialist backgrounds is quite permissible.

(3) A theologically liberal church such as the United Church of Christ believes it possible to be a Christian and "a something else" at the same time. It would be more problematic if Mr. Wright's congregation (and he himself) been of a more Evanelical/small-o orthodox bent.

(4) Wright's failure to baptize Obama means nothing at all. Even highly conservative churches (especially those that observe paedobaptism) routinely accept members who were baptized in other denominations without requiring re-baptism. Further, as a theologically liberal UCC minister, Wright may even believe that baptism is unimportant--but let him clarify the point.

The more important thing that raise the possibility of Obama's now being a Muslim is his ading the formula "Peace be Upon Him" when speaking of Jesus to the Islamic leaders at Cairo; for a Christian who believes in Jesus' being God and Man in one person and as risen on the third day from the dead (the reason why we observe Sunday rather than Saturday), the deeply ingrained spiritual reaction would be to seek peace from Jesus Christ rather than wish ours upon him. This "Peace Be Upon Him" when speaking of Jesus makes sense only as a Muslim formula or if someone believes that Jesus stayed dead (which, Paul assures us in I Corinthians 15, is incompatible with the Gospel).

I did not pay enough attention to Obama's Easter comments to know if he believes that Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried for our sins (the necessary prelude to the resurrection) or not. If he has no belief in the actual death by crucifixion of Jesus, then he may well be a Muslim; for the Qur'an denies Jesus' death on the cross.

It's my understanding that Obama has visited some churches in the Washington area since taking office. If it was for spiritual nurture first and political points only secondarily or not at all, then he may well have at last something of a Christian orientation. Still, my suspicions are that his real working religion is whatever enhances his political career.

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