Friday, June 29, 2007

Analyzing Barack Obama's "Politics of Conscience"

Barack Obama's "A Politics of Conscience,"-- his vision on how faith informs politics, and delivered to his own denomination the United Church of Christ on June 23-- is getting critical notice.

Elizabeth Hamilton, a staff writer at the Hartford Courant who covered the UCC's General Synod, observed that Obama's speech was:
Part political stump speech and part religious rallying cry, the address delivered something Obama has become known for - a liberal message while borrowing from religious conservatives one of their main tools, moral outrage grounded in faith, to make his points about such topics as poverty, immigration, Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq war.
But will that strategy appeal to voters?

Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post that while, "The Gospel of Obama" credits the work of evangelicals, it fails to account for changing trends among these Christians. Gerson gives Democrats three difficult suggestions to better reach them.

Whether Obama's strategy of reaching a broad spectrum of Christians succeeds or not, Gerson believes that any politician who seeks to baptize their agenda should beware:

The essential humanism of Christianity requires an active, political concern about human dignity and the rights of the poor and weak. But faith says little about the means to achieve those ideals. The justice of welfare reform or tax cuts or moving toward socialized medicine is measured by the outcome of these changes. And those debates cannot be short-circuited by the claim "Thus sayeth the Lord," spoken by the Christian Coalition or the United Church of Christ.

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