CBS: Barack Obama: Faith Has Been Hijacked
Barack Obama: Faith Has Been "Hijacked"
HARTFORD, Conn., June 24, 2007(AP) Sen. Barack Obama told a church
convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have
exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.
"But somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to
bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart.
Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the
Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us," the
Democratic presidential candidate said in a 30-minute speech before a
national meeting of the United Church of Christ.
"At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that
Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while
suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care
only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and
intelligent design," he said.
"There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that
its No. 1 legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich," Obama said.
"I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my
A call was placed to the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Coalition of
America seeking comment.
Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about
1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the
mainline Protestant groups.
He was warmly received by the crowd of more than 8,000 at the
cavernous Hartford Civic Center, and was introduced as "one of ours"
by the Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president of the
United Church of Christ.
Obama was invited to speak to the church's biennial synod more than a
year ago, before he declared his candidacy for the Democratic
presidential nomination, Thomas said. The freshman Illinois senator
was invited to talk about "how personal faith is lived out in the
public square," Thomas said.
In 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two
years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest
Christian denomination to do so. Obama believes that states should
decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional
amendment against it.
Conservative Christian bloggers have linked Obama to what they call
the "unbiblical" teachings of his church. Theological conservatives
believe gay relationships violate Scripture, while more liberal
Christians emphasize the Bible's social justice teachings.
Obama trails Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York by 33 percent to
21 percent in the most recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll among
Democrats and those leaning toward the party.