The Rev. Peg Chemberlin is the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches. She is the immediate past president of the National Council of Churches, an organization of 36 communions with 45 million constituents across the nation. Read more about Rev. Peg Chemberlin.
What do you think about the President’s faith? A recent survey shows that 20% of Americans think that President Obama is Muslim. Where did that falsehood come from? Is the perpetuation of this misrepresentation a part of a political strategy? Does the anti-Muslim rhetoric that is being whipped have a very political intention?
I prayed with this man at an Easter breakfast. I heard President Obama’s personal witness to his faith. He said that of all the stories of the Gospels, one that is most important to him is of Christ hanging on the cross, "…enduring the final seconds of his passion. He summoned what remained of his strength to utter a few last words before he breathed his last breath. 'Father,' he said, 'into your hands I commit my spirit.'"
“These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior.” Did you get that, our Lord and Savior? The President went on to say, “We are awed by the grace he showed even to those who would have killed him. We are thankful for the sacrifice he gave for the sins of humanity. And we glory in the promise of redemption in the Resurrection."
Who is denying his faith? And why are they doing it? I am aghast that others would misrepresent anyone’s relationship to his faith for political reasons.
Let me be clear, I am less concerned about what the misrepresentation means politically, for President Obama. I am more concerned about what that means for the state of religious forbearance in our country. That is, will we as a nation tolerate a misrepresentation of another’s faith, for political ends?
It is important for this nation to give due regard to one’s faith choice. I would be deeply offended if I was being represented as something different from which I am. We need to act with dignity on such matters. Certainly our president deserves such dignity.
That is why I recently signed a statement to this regard. The statement called for a stop to the misrepresentation of President Obama’s Christian faith. We said, “President Obama has been unwavering in confessing Christ as Lord and has spoken often about the importance of his Christian faith.” We said, “This is not a political issue. The signers of this letter come from different political and ideological backgrounds, but we are unified in our belief in Jesus Christ…Therefore, we urge public officials, faith leaders, and the media to offer no further support or airtime to those who misrepresent and call into question the President’s Christian faith.