The Los Angeles Times is reporting that “President Obama has barnstormed the country to sell his healthcare overhaul directly to sometimes-skeptical Americans. Today he will bring his message to a friendlier audience — faith leaders who see reform as an ethical and religious imperative. Obama is scheduled to address more than 1,000 religious figures in two conference calls, allowing him to extend his message to legions of faithful in the pews.” The president is not simply seeking to inform religious leaders of the details of his plans for healthcare “reform”; it seems that Obama is actively seeking to recruit their pulpits in service of his cause. In the words of the L.A. Times: “First up is a ‘High Holy Day’ call this morning with rabbis from Judaism’s Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. Organizers hope the call will provide fodder for synagogue sermons when the Jewish holidays arrive next month.” Given the usual handwringing that pervades the press over the notion that American pulpits might be used for expressing a view regarding any pending item of legislation, such a sanguine view of what seems to be feeding presidential “talking points” to preachers is a radical shift.
According to the L.A. Times, Obama is finding many eager collaborators within certain religious communities. Brazenly borrowing from Rick Warren’s “Forty Days of Purpose,” the website faithforhealth.org is pushing its own “Forty days for Health Reform,” promising an advertising campaign, and — in a move apparently intended to counter the firestorm of protests erupting around the nation — the website urges people to sign their petition promising, “As a person of faith, I support health care reform, and I'm tired of shouting, disruptions and distortions preventing an honest debate. Over the next 40 days, I commit to doing my part as a person of faith to promote health care reform. I commit to taking actions like writing my representatives, attending events, and telling my friends about our efforts to make the faith community a positive force for health care reform.”
Of course, this is not the first time that liberal political pressure groups have sought to involve members of various faith communities in their efforts. For example, similar efforts were made in the “Peace” movement in the 1980s, where naïve believers were urged by leftist organizations to press for American nuclear disarmament or for the United States to abandon its efforts to contain communist aggression in Central America.
When prior presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush made addresses to religious leaders whom they deemed would be supportive of their policies, the American media recoiled in horror, sputtering their grave concerns about dangers posed by the mingling of Church and State.
Writing for the October 17, 2004 New York Times Magazine, Ron Suskind declared concerning the Bush administration: “Whether you can run the world on faith, it's clear you can run one hell of a campaign on it. George W. Bush and his team have constructed a high-performance electoral engine. The soul of this new machine is the support of millions of likely voters, who judge his worth based on intangibles — character, certainty, fortitude and godliness — rather than on what he says or does. The deeper the darkness, the brighter this filament of faith glows, a faith in the president and the just God who affirms him.”
There is no small amount of irony in the degree to which Suskind’s comments are easily transferred from George Bush to Barack Obama. Having won a campaign on the vacuous platitudes of Hope and Change, Obama has turned his administration into a juggernaut for socialism, and any and every possible resource is being called upon in service of the cause. It might seem that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is getting the last laugh on the American public.