White House distances Obama from liberation theology

Jon Ward Contributor
Font Size:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs implied Thursday that President Obama does not subscribe to a version of Christianity dubbed as “liberation theology,” and argued that the president’s beliefs are more akin to traditional Protestantism.

“The president is a committed mainstream Christian,” Gibbs said, when asked whether Fox News personality Glenn Beck has been correct in describing Obama’s faith system as “liberation theology.”

“I have no evidence that would guide me as to what Glenn Beck would have any genuine knowledge to what the president actually does or does not believe,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs did not say outright that the president rejects liberation theology, which in general interprets the gospel of Jesus Christ as primarily a mandate to help the poor and needy, but also has many streams and variations on finer matters and points of emphasis.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Gibbs said. When pressed again, he said, “I can only imagine where [Beck] conjured that from.”

But Gibbs did strongly imply that Obama does not subscribe to liberation theology, which Beck often refers to as “black liberation theology.”

“People are entitled to their own opinion — as ill-informed as it may be — but their not entitled to their own facts,” Gibbs said.

Beck has said in the past that Obama is prejudiced against white people because of the nation’s past sins of slavery and racial discrimination. In fact, in July 2009, Beck called Obama a “racist” and said he has “a deep-seated hatred for white people.” But since then, Beck has said it was the president’s theological orientation that he mistook for racism.

“His viewpoints come from liberation theology. That’s what I think in — at the gut level I was sensing. And I miscast it as racism,” Beck told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday.

“What does the president believe? Four different speeches since he’s been president, he has told — and mainly students — that your salvation is directly tied to the collective salvation. That — that’s not something that most Christians recognize,” Beck said.

Email Jon Ward and follow him on Twitter