Thursday, August 26, 2010

The President's faith

Terry Mattingly comments on the journalistic coverage of the President's religious affiliation in "Obama and Allah, past and present," and, based on his own research, doesn't think the public has been well served by the media. Mattingly's own column on the subject is here. Part of his GetReligion commentary:
After reading the ongoing waves of coverage of the Pew Forum poll, I set out to write a column that was based as much as possible on three sources: (1) Obama’s own words, (2) statements from the Obama team and (3) mainstream news coverage of his faith history, drawing only from on-the-record sources.

I created a thick file and pulled out my marked-up Obama memoirs. I have concluded three things:
  • There is no question that, despite all the denials, the young Barry practiced Islam in Indonesia. He went to mosque, said the prayers, studied the Koran in Arabic and some of his Muslim friends remember him as being quite devout. But here is the big question: Would it help or hurt public discourse if members of the Obama team stopped denying this?
  • There is reason to believe that some, repeat “some,” Muslims might consider Obama to be an apostate Muslim, due to his early faith history and his public conversion to Christianity. But this requires viewing the issue from one Muslim point of view, one of several competing Muslim points of view on issues of faith and identity. As always, let me stress a point we often make here at GetReligion — there is no one Islam, no monolithic approach to many, many issues of tradition and law.
  • How anyone can doubt that Obama is a convert to a liberal, Universalistic Christianity — as he has said — is totally beyond me. He is a liberal Christian. Conservative Christians can argue that some of his beliefs are wrong (to which, as an Eastern Orthodox believer, I would certainly say, “Amen”), but how can anyone say that he has not given frequent public confessions of faith? Yes, it would help if Trinity UCC would clearly verify that he was baptized (there is online debate about this, of course). Journalists need to do a better job of quoting Obama’s testimony and his many statements about his faith, struggles and beliefs. Period.
With so much chatter and misinformation out there, I also think it would be constructive if citizens knew more information about Obama’s past. Journalists must be willing to quote, to the best of their abilities, what is accurate in order to note that is inaccurate. .... [more]
Note: The image is also from Terry Mattingly's post at the GetReligion site.

Obama and Allah, past and present » GetReligion