In Ohio last week, Barack Obama answered a question concerning his faith and how it pertains to certain faith-related issues. (See the video of the Q&A section of his Rally in Nelsonville, Ohio here - click on "Sen. Barack Obama Q & A" )
Here are his words:
In terms of my faith, you know, there's been so much confusion that has been deliberately perpetrated through e-mails and so forth, so just here are the simple facts.
I am a Christian. I am a devout Christian. I have been a member of the same church for 20 years. Pray to Jesus every night and try to go to church as much as I can when they're not working me. Used to go quite often. These days, you know, we haven't been to the home church, I haven't been home on Sunday for several months now.
So my faith is important to me.
It's not something that I try to push on other people. But it's something that helps to guide my life and my values.
My pastor is actually retiring this Sunday, Jeremiah Wright is retiring, and Otis Moss III, the son of Otis Moss of Cleveland, is the new pastor, and he's a wonderful pastor. I don't think my church is particularly controversial. It's a member of the United Church of Christ. It's got a choir. We read scriptures. You would feel at home if you were there. Jeremiah Wright has said some controversial things, calling for divestment of South Africa and things like that and he thinks it's important for to us focus on what's happening in Africa, and I agree with him on that.
I think what you may be referring to probably has to do with two issues, which is abortion and gay marriage.
Which has become, I think, how people measure faith in the evangelical community, and, you know, I think that there are genuine differences of opinion in this area.
I will tell you that I don't believe in gay marriage.
But I do think that people who are gay and lesbian should be treated with dignity and respect and that the state should not discriminate against them. I believe in civil unions that allow a same-sex couple to visit each other in the hospital or transfer property to each other. I don't think that it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state.
If people find that controversial, then I would refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think, you know, is in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.
That's my view. But we can have a respectful disagreement on that.
And on the issue of abortion, that's always a tragic and painful issue, and I think that if the past, we've made some mistakes, I think, people who are pro-choice, in not focusing on the fact that there's a real moral element to that. I think that's how it's experienced by women. It's never an easy decision. And I don't think women make those decisions casually.
I think it's always tragic and we should prevent it as much as possible, by making sure that young people are engaging in responsible behavior and we are encouraging the kind of good decisions that prevent unwanted pregnancy, that we are encouraging adoption as an alternative.
But in the end, I think women in consultation with their pastors and their doctors and their families are in a better position to make these decisions than some bureaucrat in Washington.
That's my view.
Again, I respect people who may disagree, but I certainly don't think it makes me less Christian.
What do you think?
1. Is Obama an authentic Christian? On what grounds would you deny the confession that he is making? I know of many evangelicals that simply deny it based on the fact that he is a democrat. What is the real test of whether one is really in the family of Christ?
2. Since Obama's pastor is controversial in his advocacy of a Black Liberation theology, should we therefore question Obama's theology as well? How will his theology affect his ability to be President?
3. Should Christians seek to stop homosexual unions as well as homosexual "marriage?" Or should we allow for the state to recognize same-sex unions as a gesture of mercy without condoning these unions by calling them "marriage?
4. Is Romans 1 an "obscure passage?" What does the Sermon on the Mount have to say about gay unions?
5. Do you applaud Obama's admission that abortion is "always a tragic and painful issue," that the pro-choice side of the debate has "made some mistakes...in not focusing on the fact that there's a real moral element to that" and that "we should prevent it as much as possible"? Or do you find that this is not worthy of notice since he says that "in the end, I think women in consultation with their pastors and their doctors and their families are in a better position to make these decisions than some bureaucrat in Washington"?
6. Have you read Barack Obama's very impressive keynote address at "Call to Renewal"? It was perhaps the most important address on faith and politics by a candidate since John F. Kennedy (and came over a year before Mitt Romney's speech on the issue). What did you think of it?