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Obama’s Nobel Speech and How it Contradicts the Christian Faith

December 11, 2009

I am writing this not because I am someone who hates Obama. I really like him. I voted for him in both the primary and the general election. I worked at my local Obama headquarters during the primary. I am a registered Democrat and a member of the national party. I am writing this because, when he gave this speech the other day, I was greatly disappointed on many levels.

If you are looking for a link for the speech here it is. In seminary I find rich and very mixed discussion on the issue of politics and faith how the two mingle. So here are some thoughts on how I see them mingling in light of President Obama’s speech in acceptance for the Nobel Peace Prize.

First of all, I feel the main complaint I have over the speech is not that is was counter to my Christian faith but rather that is was counter to all that the Nobel Peace Prize stands for. This award has been given to the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mother Theresa. These are giants in the movement of peace around the world and have served to help form a worldview on not only what peace is in thought, but more importantly, what peace actually looks like. They have all in their own way served as beacons of hope that the world doesn’t have to be a place filled with nothing but violence and hatred and that we can actually find terms to love one another on. A speech given in acceptance of such an award that is used as a tool to justify war and advance specifically American ideals is just plain wrong. I understand he is the President of the United States first. But this is an award that expands one notion of world beyond national borders and into the global community. If this is to be an issue the committee should have thought about this before awarding this pretigous award to a sitting President. I hold them equally responsible for the travesty of this event. I believe that is why it’s difficult to name a sitting President as Nobel Laureate-they are always judged by what they do for national interests and that stage should be taken by someone who can talk about peace from a human perspective and not from and American perspective.

This speech served to better articulate how poltics and faith do not line up. This is an obvious fact but, as recent history has served to show, people continue trying to merge the two. Republicans have since the early 80s used social issues such as gay-marriage and abortion to advance the case that they are the party that best encapsulates the Christian faith. By the turn of the century the Democrats decided to use faith in their politics as well. Probably the most shameful aspect of this for both parties is how faith is merely a utility, a means to an end, and we, the people, buy it hook, line and sinker. I know many of us who supported Obama did so out of deep religious conviction because of his stances on issues such as healthcare, the economy, jobs, racial relations, etc. But to argue he (or any politician from any party) has a better angle on the essence of the Christian faith does nothing but show they we think so because they embody not the essence of THE faith, but the essence of OUR FAITH.  These are often very different things.

The Christian message has been, is now, and will be forever one of peace and not war. I know this is not reconcilable in politics and issues of national interests as other things must take priority. But, as a Christian, I must say I was very disappointed in my President for his words on one of the few stages left in this world that actually promotes an idea of peace.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 6:06 pm

    Ben:

    I would go farther than you in your analysis. I would say a Christian politic is that politic built upon shalom – wholeness, wellness, peace. It is deeply eschatological in that somehow we know that the end toward which we strive (the hope) is that goal in which God has the whole world in hand, and not just American Christians.

    To me, as soon as somebody begins to consider Dr. King’s particularly (postmillenialist eschatologically) Christian ministry (which was wrapped up in the Civil Rights Movement) and then goes on to say that he is the direct result of the movement, and then upends everything Dr. King stood for by doing the exact opposite of what Dr. King stood for, is like a United Church of Canada minister reading the Left Behind Series – it just doesn’t fit. President Obama, though I have been following him since that speech in 2004, I’m finding, cannot be trusted if he is going to be the black version of Dick Cheney.

    • bgosden permalink*
      December 11, 2009 7:42 pm

      Adam I would totally agree with your comment on Christianity being built on wholeness and that wholeness being the standard of holiness for all people. I won’t call him the “black Dick Cheney” but you go right ahead brother! Thanks for the great comment

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