January 16, 2017


The Faith of Barack Obama (The Economist, 1/16/17)

He appeared comfortable not merely with the theist generalities required by the country's civil religion but with some of the tough specifics of Christian theology. As is pointed out in a forthcoming book of essays* about world leaders and faith, George W. Bush did not mention the words "Jesus", "Christ" or "Saviour" once during the eight National Prayer Breakfasts at which he presided. Compare that with the credal language of President Obama at the Easter Prayer Breakfast of 2013, when he described Jesus of Nazareth as "our Saviour, who suffered and died [and] was resurrected, both fully God and also a man." [...]

All that can be said with certainty is that there are politicians who speak about the things of God with a vulnerability and integrity that compels respect, and there are politicians who lack that gift. President Obama assuredly fell into the former category, just as certainly as his successor falls into the latter one. And as far as anyone can tell, it was not with any human audience in mind that Mr Obama penned a prayer that he left in the stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall:

Lord -- Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.

These words would have remained between Mr Obama and his maker if they had not been recuperated and published in an Israeli newspaper.

Posted by at January 16, 2017 8:48 AM