In his 2008 campaign book The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama lamented that “instead of resolving [religious] tensions or mediating [religious] conflicts, our politics fans them, exploits them, and drives them further apart.”
As with much else during his presidency, when it comes to religious tensions and conflict, Obama has transformed from the candidate of hope and change to a president who personifies the very ills he got elected promising to combat.
Last week during brief remarks at the Easter Prayer Breakfast, Obama, seeming to break from his prepared speech, said, “I have to say that sometimes, when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned.”
It’s pretty clear what set off Obama’s concern about “less than loving” Christians. The big news of the past two weeks had been an Indiana bill that would have given individuals and businesses legal grounds to defend themselves against claims of discrimination, and a Christian couple in Walkerton, Indiana, who told a reporter they could not participate in a hypothetical same-sex wedding ceremony.
In a vacuum, these comments may not seem like such a big deal. After all, everybody knows that Obama is now a staunch supporter of gay rights, America’s “First Gay President,” as Newsweek put it in 2012. And this wasn’t the first time Obama has linked gay rights to his Christian faith.
But in context, and when added to other controversial remarks Obama has made about Christianity and Islam, Obama’s Easter comments amount to the latest in an ongoing scandal.
If Obama was in fact alluding to the Indiana pizza restaurant owners, then he was ignoring the “less than loving” actions of the numerous people who have issued death and arson threats against the family and their business. The couple has been forced to close their pizza restaurant temporarily due to the threats.
The most disturbing part of Obama’s Easter remarks wasn’t his “less than loving” comment but what came next. “But that’s a topic for another day,” Obama quickly added. “…I was about to veer off. I’m pulling it back.” These comments suggest that Obama was doing all he could to restrain himself from saying something even more inflammatory and hurtful.
These comments come in the aftermath of his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year, when he glibly admonished Christians not to get on their “high horse” about Muslim terrorism when Christians have historically been guilty of their own form of faith-based violence.
Obama regularly uses Christian prayer meetings to berate Christians. But when a jihadist shouts praises to Allah while he murders the innocent, Obama does not speak out against “less than loving” Islamists. Instead, he immediately assures us that the attacker cannot be a Muslim because
Islam is, in his view, a “religion of peace.”
What makes Obama’s chastisement of Christians particularly scandalous is that it comes amid relative silence from the White House about the plight of Christians around the world who are being systematically murdered, whose churches are being burned and whose children are being sold into slavery.
In his statement about the terrorist attack at Garissa University in Kenya, Obama avoided mentioning that most of the 147 victims were targeted because of their Christian faith. Nor did he mention that the attackers were motivated by their Islamic beliefs. When 21 Coptic Christians in Libya were beheaded by ISIS in February, he simply called them “Egyptian citizens,” even though they were executed not for being Egyptian but for being Christian.
None of this is surprising given that on at least seven occasions Obama or high level administration staff members have said that the president feels he has an obligation to promote Islam whenever he can.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Obama believes he also has a corresponding duty to tear down Christianity whenever possible.
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families. Follow him @GaryLBauer