Foreword by Cal Thomas

November 9, 2011

Columnist Cal Thomas

E ven before the beginning of our nation—in the Mayflower Compact—America’s purpose was infused with religious language. Politicians who were not personally “religious” have understood the need for religious imagery in gaining votes from those who worship an Authority higher than the state.

In modern times, liberal Democrats have done poorly among religious—especially evangelical Christian—voters because they mostly did not speak their language, attend their churches, or know the difference between being born again and being born yesterday.

That began to change with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Clinton knew the language, because he attended a Southern Baptist church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Gore, though officially from Tennessee, grew up in a Washington, DC, hotel with his father, a US senator.

Gore tried to fuse religion with his earthly agenda in his book Earth in the Balance , but got it wrong when he wrote such things as that the first instance of pollution is in the Bible, where Cain kills Abel and Abel’s blood cries out from the ground. To Gore, Abel’s blood “polluted” the Earth. Elsewhere, Gore wrote that the story of Noah’s ark “might appear in modern form as: Thou shalt preserve biodiversity.” Gore says: “I have come to believe that we must take bold and unequivocal action: we must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization.”

W ow! That sounds like more big government to me. And bigger government is what Gore is about. The government is my keeper, I shall not want!

At the 1992 Democratic convention in New York City, Gore claimed to be quoting Scripture when he said, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard what we can do if we put our minds to it.” He butchered 1 Corinthians 2:9, which actually says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (NLT). The misquotation and the real thing convey starkly opposite meanings.

Then came Barack Obama in 2008. Obama spent twenty years in the Chicago church of Jeremiah Wright, a black liberationist who famously asked God to damn America.

It didn’t matter, especially to younger voters, who imputed to Obama messianic qualities he and his supporters were all too eager to exploit. This was what liberal Democrats had been waiting for: a candidate who could pick off sufficient numbers of the evangelical vote and win an election.

Perhaps nowhere else during the 2008 campaign was the deification of Obama more fully on display than in December 2007 in Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia is about as Christian a city as there is in the South.

T he story from the website Politico set the tone: “In a giant Sunday afternoon rally suffused with Christian—and at times messianic—rhetoric, Barack Obama made his largest-scale pitch to black and white Democrats of South Carolina, the third and most devout presidential primary state.”

Oprah Winfrey came along to add her star power and blessing. The crowd, estimated at twenty-nine thousand, included women wearing hats who appeared to have just come from church.

Obama spoke a language they understood. “I give all praise to God,” he began. “Look at the day the Lord has made.”

Michelle Obama opened the rally, employing language that sounded like a description of Jesus: “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls, who’s going to make us feel differently about one another; who’s going to remind us that we are one another’s keepers. That we are only as strong as the weakest among us.” All of these allude to biblical themes, though they point to Jesus of Nazareth, not Barack of Chicago-Honolulu.

Winfrey also employed Christian themes she apparently avoided in an earlier joint appearance in Iowa. In Columbia, she said, “It’s amazing grace that brought me here,” adding she was “stepping out of [her] pew”—by which she meant television—to campaign for Obama.

Not content with calling on politicians to tell the truth, Winfrey said, “We need politicians who know how to be the truth.” This can only be a reference to Jesus saying about himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

In what could be taken for a mixing of Scripture with the film The Matrix , Winfrey said she believed Obama was “the one.”

When Republicans employ religious language for political or legislative purposes, they are denounced by some of the same people who now use that language. I think that is largely because the Left knows people of their political persuasion don’t mean it and besides, as long as someone is pro-abortion, pro–gay rights, and for higher taxes and bigger government, the Left will allow you to worship anything.

J immy Carter played this game well. He was a regular churchgoer, knew Scripture, but embraced the entire agenda of the Democratic Left.

The question is, should either party confuse the kingdom of our God with the kingdom of this fallen world?

Scripture warns us not to do so. While there are instances where the two kingdoms intersect, there is no expectation that the unredeemed (who are the real majority in America) will ever be persuaded of the correctness of the position of a believer through legislative or judicial means.

Psalm 146:3–4 admonishes: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.”

John 2:24 says, “Jesus didn’t trust them [human beings], because he knew human nature” (NLT). It wasn’t that Jesus was cynical, but that he knew the limitations of fallen humanity, and besides, he had a higher purpose than manipulating that other kingdom which he was about to crush by superior means.

W hen people claim to speak for God, they should do so with humility. They should make sure they are not using God’s own words to advance an earthly agenda, which can only fail because it honors man and not God. As Paul writes in Romans 8:20–21: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (NASB).

Remember, the devil can quote Scripture and, in fact, quoted it to its author, the incarnate Word (Matthew 4:1–11). Whether Republican or Democrat, a person who uses the Bible other than for the purpose for which it is intended is a religious charlatan and should not be listened to.

Jesus said many would come in his name near the end of the age, and warned us not to listen, or even eat with them. That doesn’t mean we should not pray for those in authority. We are commanded to do so. It simply means we should worship only the ultimate authority, and realize that since Jesus trusted no man to fix what is wrong with our world, neither should we, no matter the claims President Barack Obama or any other politician makes about himself, or what others say about him. Mark Edward Taylor gets to the heart of Obama’s appeal when he writes,

Obama’s campaign expertly read the felt needs and desires of many American voters during the 2008 race. Team Obama created an image—a brand—and developed a strategy that was previously untried in American politics, but completely on target for the new era of social media, political cynicism, and celebrity-sensitive young voters. While strikingly new to American politics, the Obama brand was thoroughly American. The average American consumer took the measure of the candidate in small, sugar-coated doses. Racial Victim. Impassioned Community Organizer. Harvard Law Review president. Idealistic Senator. Optimistic Outsider. Unifier. Avuncular and caring friend. Horatio Alger. Cosmopolitan yet American. Those broad brush strokes painted the picture of an unblemished visionary, a new American Adam with the purest of motives, untainted by the ways of Washington or big business. As the first person of color who might actually be elected to the highest office in the land, Obama had the further advantage of being an “innocent” candidate. He was not so vulnerable to the kind of political stereotyping that would have tied him to earlier presidential candidates. Americans could see him visually as someone more than or at least different from earlier presidents.

We have seen the consequences of an unquestioning idealism that was based on blind faith.

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