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“All praise to God for bringing us all here together.” This is how Barack Obama begins all of the events in his presidential campaign. With many politicians, people wonder if they really are religious, or whether they are just trying to win votes. With Senator Obama, it seems that his religious faith is real and extremely important to him. How would this effect how he governs? Would his faith play a prominent role in his presidency like George W. Bush?

I listened to Obama’s keynote address at the Call to Renewal to get some insights. While listening to the speech, I heard some great things, and I heard things that made me worry:

Good: “Faith doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts.”

Bad: “Our fear of getting ‘preachy’ may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems.”

Good: “I’m not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology–that can be dangerous.”

Bad: “…secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square.”

Good: “Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a nation of unbelievers.”

Bad: “…to say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Very Good: “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason…Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality.”

Very Bad: “…one can envision certain faith-based programs–targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers–that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems.”

In the upcoming election I am not so naive as to think that there will be anyone other than Christians running. I’ve made my peace with that. But I can reserve my vote for the candidate that believes strongly in the separation of church and state. In the end, the only real deal-breaker for me in regards to Obama is the “faith-based programs” part (if he intends them to be funded by the government).

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