On the February 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, during a segment discussing the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the church to which Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) belongs, co-host Sean Hannity stated that "many" call Trinity "separatist," adding that "in some cases, even drawing comparisons to a cult." Guest Erik Rush, a columnist for the conservative website WorldNetDaily, said that the church's "scary doctrine" is "something that you'd see in more like a cult or an Aryan Brethren Church or something like that."
…Referring to "The Black Value System," which is advocated by Trinity, Rush stated: "I would go beyond saying that they're Afrocentric. They're African-centric. They refer to themselves as an African people, and that somewhat disturbs me from the viewpoint of, well, do they consider themselves Americans? Do they consider themselves Christians? Are they worshipping Christ? Are they worshipping African things black? Well, I mean, what is it?" Later in the segment, when co-host Alan Colmes asked: "Are you questioning Barack Obama's Christianity?" Rush responded simply: "Yeah."
Could Sean Hannity have said "black" more times during that clip?
This is why the Democrats can't win the faith game and shouldn't even try. I've read over and over how Obama speaks about his faith more naturally than any other modern Dem, and yet not just his Christianity, but his patriotism and loyalty, are nonetheless being openly questioned on national television. And it has nothing to do with his church or their value system—they're just a handy tool by which to remind people that he's black and scary and probably a traitor like every other liberal.
Obama has answered conservatives' criticisms of his church by pointing out the admittedly amusing irony of their issues with its value system: "Commitment to God, black community, commitment to the black family, the black work ethic, self-discipline and self-respect. Those are values that the conservative movement in particular has suggested are necessary for black advancement. So I would be puzzled that they would object or quibble with the bulk of a document that basically espouses profoundly conservative values of self-reliance and self-help."
Good point—and yet a better one might be: "My faith is no one's business but my own, because I have no interest in legislating it." Period.
Democrats continually fail to use every opportunity given to them to highlight the fundamental and mighty big difference between believers and theocrats. They seem chronically averse to stating the obvious: One's faith is fair game for criticism the moment it becomes the justification for one's policy positions. (Only then, and especially then.) It's an issue of private faith vs. public faith—and "talking about God" isn't public faith; exclusively using the Bible to defend one's position on same-sex marriage is.
Instead, the Dems try to out-faith the GOP, only to find that their faith is never strong enough, expressed authentically enough, or rooted in an accepted denomination, anyhow. Meanwhile, legitimate critiques of doctrine used to justify regressive and oppressive legislation is considered off-limits, called bigotry far and wide, because the institutional left resists saying, plainly, "If you have an interest in legislating it, it's fair game." Playing the faith game by GOP rules is futile; the Dems' time would be better spent acknowledging that we all believe different stuff and that's okay, because people of good will can arrive at the same positions and work together even if they don't believe the same things.
It's time to give up the ghost on this one. It's a pointless pursuit and has created, as a frustrating byproduct, a significant problem in our national discourse:
The alliance of "people of faith", both organizationally and rhetorically, has created an artificial distinction between "believers" and "nonbelievers," perpetuated the notion that what you believe is unimportant as long as you have faith in something, and reduced any public discussion of the genuine differences in belief that exist.And when there is any discussion about the difference in belief, it's pathetic, juvenile stuff: ZOMG Mitt Romney's ancestors were polygamists and WTF Barack Obama's church is a cult! Yeesh.
Nothing would make me happier than if, for the foreseeable future, Democrats had no other comments on the subject of faith than "My faith is no one's business but my own, because I have no interest in legislating it" and "If you have an interesting in legislating it, it's fair game."