25 June 2008

Dobson vs. Obama and Religion in Politics

James Dobson of Focus on the Family recently criticized statements made by Barack Obama back in 2006 on the place of religion in politics. Obama's speech can be found here: http://www.barackobama.com/2006/06/28/call_to_renewal_keynote_address.php.

Here is a portion that Dobson addressed:

"And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles."

Dobson charged that Obama deliberately distorted scripture to fit his own world view and distorted theology (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/24/evangelical.vote/index.html). Obama responded by saying that Dobson is "making stuff up."

Now, I was at first going to criticize Obama's words as well. Then I read a greater portion of his speech, as well as quotes on the site http://www.jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com/. If the quote above is actually Obama's interpretation of those passages, we've got problems. However, I think that he is actually saying that anyone with such interpretations needs to go back and "read their bibles."

At first reading Dobson's comments, I thought Obama was implying one ought to leave Jesus at home, out of your day job. In fact, that is the very opposite of what Obama argues. Although I don't agree with Obama word for word, I tend to agree with him far more than Dobson. I encourage you to read Obama's speech and weigh things yourself.

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