Column: Not Obama's job to advance his faith
By Linda Henle, Worthington I would like to reply to Tom and Pat Wallace's editorial. I'm really confused by the goal of the article, which seemed to imply that President Obama is the Christian-Transformation-Chief for the USA.You are in charge o...
By Linda Henle, Worthington
I would like to reply to Tom and Pat Wallace’s editorial. I’m really confused by the goal of the article, which seemed to imply that President Obama is the Christian-Transformation-Chief for the USA.
You are in charge of your own Christian transformation. Don’t look to anyone else to do this for you. You need to read the constitution.
The U.S. is not a Christian nation, a nation of Islam, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation or a Jewish nation. The U.S. is a secular nation. The Constitution allows its citizens the freedom to practice any religion or no religion, nor do we persecute the believers of any religion. We, regardless of our religion, have a constitutional right to practice our religion without government interference. The government may not impose the teachings of any religion on its citizens. We have strict separation of church and state.
While President Obama is a Christian, it’s not his responsibility to advance Christianity and certainly not to “transform” it; in fact, it would be unconstitutional for him to do so. Since President Obama is a constitutional lawyer, I believe he knows better than anyone what his duties are. The majority of the Wallace examples are a failure to recognize the separation of church and state, and others are just meaningless.
President Obama did not have prayer services in the West Wing on the National Day of Prayer in May 2009. These prayer services previously have been held by an organization that calls itself “National Day of Prayer Task Force,” led by the religious right. President Obama politely asked them to find another venue for their service. The White House is not a church, synagogue or mosque; it is a government building.
The Wallaces’ letter claimed that “Obama’s VA” banned the mention of Jesus Christ during funerals in July 2011. The truth is that it was the “Bush VA” that banned this in 2007 because the VA feared suits by the ACLU and like-minded secular extremists. The cemetery director in Houston was enforcing this Bush ban. It was during the Obama administration that this ban was rescinded following outcries and lawsuits. It should be noted that both Bush and Cheney discussed this ban in speeches, though neither made any changes to it.
The Air Force suspended a course titled “Christian Just War Theory.” A group of missile launch officers complained to the Military Religions Freedom Foundation that the course included Christian-themed material. CNN reported the course was designed to teach Air Force core values to ROTC cadets, but complaints stated that the course amounted to government endorsement of religion. The Air Force’s top officials issued a stern reminder to leaders about religion and their jobs. They were not to proselytize or show favoritism toward a particular faith. Leaders were to balance constitutional protection of religious freedom and the prohibition on government intrusion.
The Walter Reed ban on religious items was quickly reversed and was never enforced.
The editorial claimed Obama no longer included the words “endowed by their creator” and a PAC even put out an advertisement that stated Obama ‘‘was the only president who deliberately removed the words “endowed by their creator” when referring to the Declaration of Independence. Politico found this statement to be false and that Obama has used the phrase multiple times - and found that Republican President Reagan had also omitted it on occasion.
The next great offense was that President didn’t use the word God in his Thanksgiving address. He did say “God Bless you” in his Internet address. He also thanked God earlier in the week in his written Thanksgiving address.
The bill HR 4170 (Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012) makes no reference to religion at all, so it’s an untrue statement that the federal government no longer student loans in exchange for public service if that community service is related to religion.
Let’s review the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This act gave thousands - perhaps millions - of Americans access to health insurance who without the ACA would not have not have it, and made it affordable according to the patient’s income. It also allowed Americans with pre-existing conditions like cancer, CHF, kidney failure, asthma, diabetes, etc. to obtain insurance, which has previously denied due to these pre-existing conditions. ACA also gave free access to screening procedures like mammograms, cervical cancer tests, etc. The ACA requires that insurers pay for contraceptives. The ACA also gave the opportunity for students under the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s insurance plans. The Wallace’s called this “another example of the President’s mockery of Christianity.”
I hope the Wallaces will read the constitution and not take at face value any propaganda dished out by radical right-wing media.