Preaching Out of the Closet

Amy Levin: It’s barely been a day and President Barack Obama’s personal endorsement (belief? affirmation? slow and agonizing compromise?) of same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC’s Robin Robert’s has spread like wildfire across the news, blog, and twitter spheres. Obama’s comments came just a day after North Carolina passed a ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the 30th state to do so. Reaction to Obama has been divided to say the least. Some are excited, some are livid, and others are confused.

While the majority of pundits across the spectrum are wondering if this is anything more than a political ploy for re-election. However, a few medialites focused in on Obama’s confession as an expression of faith. Today at The Washington Post, Elizabeth Tenety highlights Obama’s evolution (yes, he believes in evolution) on the issue, as he calls it, as well as that fact that he “ invoked Christ and the Golden Rule in detailing how he has changed.” Obama did, in fact, speak about his religious beliefs in his interview, however, given the short attention span of Americans and ability to register about 140 characters of written word, most of us have been fed this simple sugary statement: “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

But there’s more. Featuring Jesus Christ:

… [Michelle and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.

At Get Religion, Terry Mattingly sees these comments as proof of Obama “outing himself” as a perfectly ordinary liberal Protestant Christian. I’m not quite sure Obama was closeted, or if claiming his faith as his inspiration for equality and good fatherhood is exactly akin to coming out. Especially since only the minority media sites that care about religion are picking up on it. But let’s not dismiss it either.

I’m particularly taken by Mattingly’s journalistic aim in this debate: “ The goal is to find coverage that takes the president’s statement seriously as a faith statement, not as an act of political chess.” Are faith statements and politiking mutually exclusive? Because last I checked, God seems to love presidential elections. The democratic party cannot deny the fact that conservatives have made same-sex marriage into one of the most prolific moral issues in our country. How could Obama endorse same-sex marriage and deny its loaded religious meanings? A justification of rights, in our blessed Christian nation, must come from a religious base. And let’s not forget, we didn’t elect a self-described secular, we elected a nice Christian boy.

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