Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Obama Wrestles With His Faith and LGBT Issues - Is He Using Religion As An Excuse?

Obama will be meeting with the Pope at the Vatican this Friday, but last week, he sat down for a 45-minute interview with the Roman Catholic news media and spoke of his struggle concerning LGBT rights.
"For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I'm constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians."
This is a loaded quote. Many may take heart to the fact that Obama addresses the fact that the LGBT population (not community - we're bigger than that) have been victimized, but he doesn't state it for the fact that it is. He says we "feel victimized."

Imagine if he had said, "For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they have been victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally."

See what a huge difference that is?

But now let's get to the second half of the quote. Michael A. Jones at did an amazing job of pointing out that Obama's church, the United Church of Christ, believes in full equality for the LGBT population. Their website states:
"For more than 30 years the national setting of the UCC has been on a clear course of welcome and inclusion, calling for serious study of human sexuality, [and] supporting the civil rights of LGBT persons..."
So what is he "wrestling" with? If his church and religion clearly state for full LGBT equality, what's the struggle?

I can only assume that the struggle in Obama is his own but clearly using religion as front for his inaction on LGBT rights. Sure, the context of the interview is religion, but it's not a reason for inaction. And this is nothing new - how many times have we heard politicians promise us they'll fight for our equality only to state once they make it into office that their religious and moral code forbids them for advocating for us?

I'm not going to assume what it is that Obama is personally struggling with, but it's certainly not his religion. It's something else, inside.

Despite the fact that Obama stated in the primaries that his personal belief didn't allow him to support marriage equality, I never thought that he would state that it would dictate to him his actions as president. I truly thought he held dearly the separation of church and state and that one would not directly influence the other.

I was wrong. Because truly, if he "believes" God doesn't approve of our full freedom, then he believes his inaction is justified. And since we only "feel" victimized, then where's the real harm, right?

(Rex Wockner interviews with openly gay Steve Hildebrand, who was Obama's deputy national campaign director and with whom Obama speaks to on LGBT issues. He believes Obama will keep his promises. It's encouraging to read.)


  1. I'm very disappointed in Obama about this. Although I'm a Republican, I voted for Obama, and I believe in civil rights for everyone, equally. ANY politician that consistently invokes religion or jesus or a god needs a stern talking to. Upholding the law & freedoms of the Constitution are NOT intertwined with religion. A Commander in Chief needs to know how to separate the two, rather than pandering in hopes of keeping everyone happy. Which, of course, is ridiculous, because not everyone will be happy and satisfied at the same time. So the President should do the RIGHT thing and fully endorse equal protection and rights for ALL Americans. Period. The end. This isn't about religion, it's about civil rights.

  2. he lied to get the LGBT votes to put him in office. many gays an lesbians thought he would stick to his promises he made to us but look at him now. he can barely even keep his stimulus package promises.

  3. Way too big of a deal. You try being president and having to please everyone. He was talking with the Catholic Church, he can't sit there and say "Yay gays!" He chose words that sort of walk a balanced line in a way that allows him to remain professional. I'm tired of the LGBT community crying when people don't immediately fight for us tooth and nail. There are more important things going on in the world than to tear apart a statement he made. It's getting ridiculous. I'm almost ashamed to be a part of this community after how much this has become more about publicity that we must tear apart every word people say to try and make it negative.

  4. There's so much on this man's plate. The agenda he claims to have in store is so demanding. Yet, I don't believe that to be an excuse for a lack of action. I believe this is a civil rights issue, and I still do believe that Obama realizes the necessity to separate the beliefs of the church from the policy of the country. I continue to hold that belief. I just think it's going to take longer than the 6 months he's been office. We are a population of progress-- its going to take more than the president's swift pen to bring rights,respect, and societal change. It would be a hell of a nice addition, but we'll prevail. It's what we do. It's what the people of this country do. It's how progress is made and ideologies transform. I have faith.

  5. Is anyone really surprised by this? Just because Obama is a democrat doesn't mean he's liberal on every issue. The next generation will absolutely be able to change this problem for the better, but right there is still a long road ahead.

  6. He's wresting with the fact that nearly half of the American population is biggotted, and against gay rights. If Obama just simply stated "I'm for LGBT rights", imagine the kind of disapproval he would recieve from some of his supporters during a time of economic crisis. I think it's clear Obama supports equality, but is just scared to say anything because he doesn't want to lose anymore support.

  7. Its wrong for president obama and/or any goverment worker to allow their religious beliefs to interfere and/or dictate their secular policies and decisions at least according to the first amendment.

    Lets hope that president obama comes to realise this and that he will indeed do the right thing and help initiate equality for the homosexual community.

  8. I agree so much with Anonymous... Come on he has to deal with the whole world Not just our community. He can't make everyone happy and he has bigger issues to deal with such as the econcomy, this sorry war and nuclear threats. ithink its just poor to pick at every little word that he says. Really... one word, "Feel", "Is", "believes" its 1 interview and he hasn't even been in office a good year. Give him a chance before you jamb him up.

    I want equality to marry my girlfriend also but i'm not picking at the words he uses. Get something better to do.

  9. I agree that Obama has a lot on his plate, much more than some President's in the past. But also in the past, civil rights history teaches us that those struggling for equal rights were told over and over again to wait, don't criticize, "you don't understand", or the timing was bad.

    In the past, our country was also at war while segments of our population struggled to obtain their equal rights. Other times, the economy was bad.

    There is no good time except for NOW. And without watching the president's every word, not only will he not learn, but those who don't understand never will either. Words matter. Every one of them. How you approach a subject matters - especially if you believe in it as Obama states he does.

    Obama is saying the pressure is good. Even the criticism. How else is he and all of us to learn? History teaches us this is critical to gain equal rights. If we're to win them, we need to keep speaking up.