Obama is a Christian. He is constantly reminding us. He has to. He reminded us at the lighting of the National Christmas tree last year. He reminded us at the Easter prayer breakfast. He reminded us at the 10th anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Most recently, the president reminded us in his speech at the United Nations this week: “Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.”
So why is it not sticking for that 16 percent?
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s religion problem is quite different. Everyone is clear that the GOP candidate is a Mormon. Some just don’t think that makes him a Christian. Although 74 percent of white evangelicals support Romney, a good number of those do not believe that Mormonism is a Christian religion. The most high-profile evangelical in the country, the Rev. Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California, who gave the invocation at Obama’s inauguration, has said publicly that Mormons are not Christians.
“The key sticking point for evangelicals and actually for many is the issue of the Trinity. That’s the historic doctrine of the church that God is three in one. Not three Gods; one God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mormonism denies that,” Warren said during an interview with ABC News in April.
Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, has begun outreach to 17 million evangelical GOP voters. He will try to convince this group that Romney’s conservative positions outweigh differences in their faiths.
So far, neither candidate has given a major speech on religion during this campaign. So should they? I have some advice for each of them.
Obama may think that he has brought it up enough, but it’s clearly not working. A speech on the subject would be a good idea.
Romney can’t win this battle. He needs to keep saying “God bless America” every chance he gets.
In 2006, before Obama was president, he gave a major address at the Sojourners convention: “A Call to Renewal on Faith and Politics.”
He was astonishingly candid for a politician and very clear on his faith and his belief in the freedom of religion. He talked about how offended he was when one of his opponents for U.S. Senate said he was not a Christian. He related how he had not been religious when he went to Chicago but then joined the church. “You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away — because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.”
The speech was a tour de force. It was one thing to proclaim your belief in God, in fact it was obligatory in order to get elected, but it was not really expected that anyone would elaborate on the subject.