I promise not to dig too much into politics, and I want to preface that I’m not decided on any candidate yet, but I simply want to defend accurate journalism and help people not be misled by smear campaigns that build up a case for remarks made out of context. I’m not an Obama supporter (or McCain for that matter, yet, on both counts) but I want to ensure that facts are reported accurately. And so then:
There’s a propagandist website making its way through email forwards lately, that is an attempt to smear Obama’s reputation as a Christian by supposedly showing his true feelings. However, the video actually only uses a few clips out of a larger speech, and furthermore adds a few, “Did you not know..?” remarks toward the end. This is the same strategy of touters of bible contradiction that simply make a list of random verses with a common subject heading of something obscenely out of context, like “God Murders Thousands.” The addition of the “Did you not know..?” remarks implies that Obama did not actually know, but fails to even provide actual evidence that he didn’t. Apparently just asking a question that Obama is not defending in the smearer’s own video counts for legitimate journalism. Yeah right.
Here’s the original smear campaign’s video:
The video states, “On June 28, 2006, Senator Barack Obama gave a speech … where he explains why he finds it so difficult for America to use the bible to help guide our public policy,” then gives only 30 heavily edited seconds of a larger and greater context, and then makes blind accusations in rhetorical questions as if they were something profound.
However, if you were to listen to more of the original speech, Obama makes a pretty good case about how the perceptions of Christians need to be of a keener mindset of communicating the same ideas into a type of understanding that non-believers could grasp and identify with.
A lot more of the original video (still cut, but not quite so heavily or unjournalistically):
Pay attention to the smear version and the less-edited version’s difference of the audience reaction after he remarks about the Defense Department’s implementation. In the smear version, there’s only light murmuring, but in the less-cut version, the audience laughs uproariously — which would make better sense if the statements he’d made were actually of a more light-heared, poking-fun nature, rather than a deep criticism as the smear version makes it out to be.
He uses an Abraham and Isaac example, where, if we were to see the well-known event taking place, we’d call the police and have CPS take Isaac away. To me, it seems like he’s trying to get across to Christians that they/we need to be more open to discussion and deal with public policy in a much more wise technique:
You may recall how Solomon, when confronted by two women arguing over whose child a baby was — ordered a child be cut in two so each could have an equal share. The false mother agreed it should be cut, but the real mother said to give it to the false one so it would not be cut. Solomon did not actually intend to cut the baby, but gave the baby to the true mother.
Obama seems to be, in a sense, making a Judgement of Solomon. He’s taking a stance with one foot in both doors, trying to address the needs of both Christian and secular alike, in an attempt to demonstrate the disparity between actual implementation based on scripture versus secular reasoning. He doesn’t appear to actually be advocating seeing the bible as absurdity, but instead using that idea as a larger illustration about how secular citizens may perceive a scripture-based policy when instead the same goal could be reached by using a different technique of reasoning.
Editor’s Note, January 28, 2013:
The lengthier clip of Obama’s speech (called the “Call To Renewal” speech of June 28, 2006) has been somehow suspended from view, since I first wrote it four years ago. There is a better version, linked below in 5 parts, which shows the entire speech so you can have far better context of his joking nature, rather than being a stern lecture as PHFA tries to cast the remark into. The beginning of the fourth part is relevant to this post —
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tdoQr3BQ1g
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYzDIhbgDtg
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTFUsckSDe8
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVt59yd2W0U
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x29oqiXwg34
That fourth part casts even more light on the matter, in that he was operating at the time under a hypothetical situation, and asking under whose version of Christianity we were to operate under within that hypothetical situation. It is perfectly reasonable to make weird claims, particularly when the context is entirely hypothetical.
If I were to ask, “Hypothetically, if our knees were bent the other direction, would that affect how chairs are designed?” and then suggest that “chairs would need to be made in a different design,” and taken out of context, it could be used in a propaganda video that I insisted chairs be made into a different design, rather having been related to knee-bending hypothetical question before it.
The people who are suggesting Obama isn’t Christian based on this segment are doing precisely that — taking comments out of context. He even describes, in the same speech in Part 2 (around the 5-minute mark), his acceptance of Christ at the front of the church one day.
It might be worth noting that I did not end up voting at all that year (whereas my introduction noted I was neither an Obama, nor McCain, supporter. I am still not an Obama supporter (nor any Republican nominee since then, either) but I am still a supporter of accurate journalism.