As Christian leaders— whose primary responsibility is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with our congregations, our communities, and our world— we are deeply troubled by the recent questioning of President Obama’s faith. We understand that these are contentious times, but the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for public debate.
I would have given them an amen right there, but the letter continues:
President Obama has been unwavering in confessing Christ as Lord and has spoken often about the importance of his Christian faith. Many of the signees on this letter have prayed and worshipped with this President. We believe that questioning, and especially misrepresenting, the faith of a confessing believer goes too far.
The letter was signed by, among others, T.D. Jakes, Ron Sider, Samuel Rodriguez, Jim Wallis, Joel Hunter, and David Gushee, evangelicals who considered spiritual advisors to the president or at “centrists” whose advice has been sought by the White House or the Democratic Party.
Wallis and Hunter, as I detailed yesterday, are the targets of right-wing attacks implying or outright claiming they aren’t “real” Christians themselves. So obviously their defense of Obama’s faith is not being taken seriously by the right.
I get it that the Eleison’s letter signers’ target audience is different: less hardline conservatives or center-right evangelicals who might otherwise be swayed by the right-wing smears, and who think they need a fellow evangelical to vouch for Obama’s Jesus cred. But what would the response to the right’s effort to delegitimate Obama’s faith be if Obama was not a Christian, but a Jew or an atheist, or actually a Muslim?