Sitting presidents do not take unsolicited advice under normal circumstances. They know their own minds, and they know the value of free advice. It ain’t worth a nickel.
Having said that, I would like to make a suggestion about how the president proclaims his faith. It is important to him, as a personal matter and as a matter of politics, to correct the false impression that he is a Muslim, or worse, a non-believer since views of a president’s religious beliefs are correlated to his popularity. Suffice it to say this state of affairs is what has been termed a “non-stop moronathon” in the vernacular. However dumb the situation, though, the president’s career very well may turn on whether voters think he’s a Christian or not.
The nation has been dancing this hokey-pokey for quite some time. Back in August, Glenn Beck attacked Obama’s faith as heresy, a fine charge coming from a Mormon convert. That led the president to respond that a “network of misinformation” was distorting his actual faith. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was more blunt: “I can only imagine where Mr. Beck conjured that from,” he said at the time. Obama’s surrogates tried to be diplomatic about it all; Burns Strider went on CBN to convince Pat Robertson’s audience that you shared evangelical values, for example. The president has also gotten some sympathetic press coverage of the faith issue along the way—most notably from CNN’s Dan Gilgoff.
But here we are again. This morning, Pres. Obama attended the National Prayer Breakfast, the sole public expression of a band of religious creeps, to offer his testimony about Jesus Christ for the first time since September. His aides and surrogates still step around the religion issue softly and tenderly. Administration staff won’t even talk about it on the record:
“Under the radar there are of course those who would not tell the truth about him,” said the White House official, who would not speak for attribution. “There are folks who have a misunderstanding of the president’s faith and who repeat that misunderstanding.”
Joel Hunter, one of the president’s evangelical allies, is equally mild:
“He needs to openly declare himself a Christian and not settle for people’s skepticism at that point,” said Hunter, who leads an evangelical church in Orlando. “All of us ought to be able to say who we are and taken for our word. It’s frustrating because he still has some people questioning his faith.”
This is curious, since Obama has said again and again that he is a Christian. But more to my suggestion, there aren’t “some people questioning the president’s faith,” there are some people lying about it. It is a fraud to pass on a “misunderstanding” known to be just that. Likewise when people “raise questions” that have been answered more than once, it is a form of prevarication, not honest wonderment. All of this is done with the intention of damaging the public view of the president, as he and his staff surely know. People lie about his faith to make others fear and distrust him.
So why didn’t the president say so? Instead of coming to the National Prayer Breakfast to make apologies for the misunderstandings and answer once again questions surrounding his belief, I suggest that he offer up a sermon on Psalm 4:2—”How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?” Psalm 5:6 offers another opportune moment: “[God destroys] those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.”
The American public does not care for its presidents to be Muslims or atheists. Which is stupid. They also have little use for milquetoasts, which is more understandable. Pres. Obama should stop trying to persuade voters who have been fed a diet of falsehood about him that he is not the Other they’ve been conditioned to fear. He ought to look his accusers in the eye and remind them that it’s a sin to tell a lie. His base, and their mothers, will thank him for it.