Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Obama's top 10 faith moments
Exclusive: Chuck Norris shares thoughts on big list of religious milestones

Posted: May 04, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

By Chuck Norris

Obama has been in office 100 days, and last week U.S. News & World Report commemorated the occasion by documenting what it considers to be his "Ten most important Obama faith moments."

Without defining what "most important" and "faith moment" mean, U.S. News & World Report clearly shows its thesis and thrust in the column with this sentence: "Barack Obama has embraced faith in a more visible way than any other president in recent memory."

With a statement like that, the top 10 list must be rock-solid faith stimulators, right? You decide. Here is its list of 10 and my thoughts on each.

1. Rick Warren's Inauguration Day invocation

Despite what you think of Pastor Warren, his participation in Obama's inauguration was a gutsy move for any left-leaning president. I'll grant Obama and U.S. News & World Report that inclusion as a definite significant "faith moment," though maybe (as I've already discussed in a previous column) not for all the right reasons.

2. Granting first TV interview to Arabic Language Network

I would call that more of a "diplomatic moment" than a "faith moment," despite that a majority of the Arab world is Muslim. Obama has stated, "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy." But is that his exclusive message? Is that the message he wants to send to our enemies?

3. Reversing Mexico City Policy on family planning providers abroad

Since when is subsidizing other nations with federal funds to provide more abortions a "faith moment"? That is one of the most ridiculous additions of the bunch, second to No. 7 or No. 8. If U.S. News & World Report regards increasing international abortions among its "faith moments," then it has overlooked another half dozen pro-choice decisions Obama's administration has made, like several key appointments of pro-choice leaders.

4. Opening rallies with prayer

To call opening six rallies with prayer as a "top 10 faith moment" seems a bit of an exaggeration. To explain it as "a big step further in embracing religion," in comparison with George W. Bush's practice of starting cabinet meetings with prayer and encouraging Bible study groups at the White House, reveals the author's clear political bent.

5. Launching White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

One minute Obama's blaming the former president for the entire mess of the country; the next, he's expanding his mission with faith-based partnerships. How interesting. But could the advances of this "faith moment" suffer a horrendous reversal when Obama's administration finally deals with its postponement of the issue of whether to demand these federally funded groups hire leaders from outside their faith traditions?

6. Convening a faith advisory council

Obama's new President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was instituted to give advice to his new Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. While this council has external appeal, it will serve largely little more than another bureaucratic piece of red tape and long-arm of government weaving into the fabrics of our religious practice.

7. Joe Biden's receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday

With all respect to Biden, to think that the vice president's participation in Lenten church services is classified among the 10 most important faith moments of Barack Obama borders on comical.

8. Lifting restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research

Like No. 3 on expanding international abortions, to include the lifting of restrictions for federally funded embryonic stem cell research among Obama's top 10 "most important faith moments" is ludicrous. Obama himself said, "As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering." Apparently that doesn't apply to life in the womb.

9. Announcing plans to give Notre Dame's commencement address

I would agree with No. 9 if it were the baccalaureate (or religious service) address, but it's the commencement address.

10. Speaking to Muslim world from Turkey

This is perhaps the most confusing and misleading of all his "faith moments." He said, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." That should win the No. 1 non-faith or secular moment of Obama's first 100 days, for he skirted our religious makeup and heritage.

If my math is correct regarding the U.S. News & World Report column, the preceding "10 most important Obama faith moments" include: 1) Two encouraging Muslim relations and religion around the world, 2) two extending and increasing terminations of human life in the womb, 3) one non-religious speaking engagement at a university, 4) two acts promoting community development, 5) seven events that included invocations, 5) and one about the sight of religious soot on the forehead of the vice president.

Makes me wonder what U.S. News & World Report means by "most important" and "faith moment." "Most important" for whom? U.S. News & World Report? The Left? And what does "faith moment" mean? "Religious moment"? "Secular moment"? "Muslim moment"?

It's strange how or why U.S. News & World Report left out among its top 10 most important faith moments that Obama proposed to limit tax deductions for charitable contributions. Or what about Obama's request for Georgetown University to cover over a monogram symbolizing Jesus' name, when he gave his economic speech there?

I can think of a much better title that suits the majority of entries in this U.S. News & World Report column and religious political-actions of Obama, "10 most important Obama faith mashings." (I wonder if U.S. News & World Report or any other major news magazine would run that article or my op-ed?)

Despite where one lands on Obama's religious actions, there's a real faith moment coming up this week, and we need it more than ever. It's the "58th Annual National Day of Prayer" on Thursday, May 7, with local events in your neighborhood.

This could be one of the "10 most important American faith moments" this year, if we collectively do as it instructs in the Hebrew scriptures (2 Chronicles 7:14): "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."


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