Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Barack Obama is like Abraham

Judaism, Christianity, Islam -- the three religions borne of Abraham. But are they now the three faiths of Obama?

You can bet your Sunday School/Seder/shahada they are if the Christian Science Monitor has anything to report about it. Turns out people of all faiths made a pilgrimage to the polls last week, and Jewish and Catholic votes largely went to the Democrat.

Moreover, Muslims "overwhelmingly voted for Obama," according to Newsweek. And as if that weren't enough, the Washington Post says the President-elect also made a dent in the Republican stronghold of Protestants and Evangelicals -- about 5%.

So what does this mean for the spiritual face of our nation? As CSM notes in its article, "some theologians suggest that the religious shift signals the emergence of a faith-based coalition that will counterbalance or, perhaps, replace the religious right" that has been a pillar for the Bush administration.

If this is the case, I see three outcomes:

1. The separation of church and state is clearly stated and more closely followed. Example: the building buzz about Obama's likely moves to reverse Bush's decisions on embryonic stem cell research.

2. Our executive leadership will look and act more ecumenical.
Expect to see more faiths and denominations represented among the Cabinet, which in turn will (hopefully) lead to greater diversity of thought and pragmatism. Obama is Christian, Chief of Staff pick Rahm Emanual is Jewish ... now who else will join them?

3. Morality in government returns to its fundamentals. Following only one religious worldview without considering any others lets you get caught up in human-made details, rather than focusing you on greater spiritual truths. If government leaders of different faiths had to actively find common moral ground on issues, however, it can help them recognize universal values, and develop policy that reflects it.

Obama's biracial background has already become a symbol of America's diverse past and rainbow future. If he can now do the same for religion and spirituality -- move this hot-button divider toward a recognizable center -- then we will be one step closer to a truly united state.

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