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April 14, 2011


President Obama and the Christian Ethic

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

I do not get into politics much as a pastor, but after yesterday's speech by President Barack Obama where he laid into his political opposition as being mean and essentially anti-American, I felt that as a clergyman, I had to at least say something. The public square was calling…

First, our national politics stinks. 

Presidentobama Second, what saddened me about yesterday's speech was how President Barack Obama gave a pointed political speech, not a policy speech, as it had been touted. He resorted to the name calling, mean spirited attacks that he believes will get him re-elected instead of being a president giving a major policy address.

President Obama kicked off his political re-election campaign in a most sad way, kicking off his campaign so negatively. The election is more 18 months away, I hoped the negativity would come later. President Obama, instead of talking about how his plan is better, spent half of his speech attacking conservatives and conservatism. The "balance" that the White House was expressing was nowhere to be found since the president went "pedal to the metal" on attacking Republicans. 

Paul ryan Comparing and contrasting Republican Congressman Paul Ryan's speech when he announced his debt reduction plan to the president's yesterday, Congressman Ryan refrained from any below-the-belt attacks and focused very directly on why his plan to reduce and eliminate the deficit was a good and solid plan. President Obama could have very easily taken a liberal political view of Ryan's plan and contrasedt it with his own and still not spend time attacking Ryan and fellow conservatives in a very negative, "below how I expect my president to act" manner.  

Make no mistake, President Obama has been attacked viciously, at times, during his time in the White House. When I have seen some of the remarks by a small number of people, who have accused him of some rather ugly things, it has broken my heart. Maybe I have a "pie in the sky" view of the presidency. Even though I did not vote for him in 2008, Barack Obama  is still my president and when he is smeared in such a cruel way, it angers me. When I see him being burned in effigy in other countries, it hurts me. He is my president, regardless if I voted for him or not. I think the office is something to be looked up to, where the person who occupies that seat is more forward thinking, above the everyday political fray, and who is looking out for all Americans, regardless of political persuasion. 

But yesterday's attacks, I didn't like. It showed a lack of respect for the office. The president should have never gone on the attack so cruelly. 

President bush I believe a good example for how to act in the  Office of the President is the man who preceeded him, President George W. Bush. When people attacked him by calling him "Hitler," said that he had blood on his hands for going to war, and the numerous other stupid and disgraceful ways they mocked him, President Bush tried to stay above it all. When conservatives railed against him for not attacking back, he showed great respect for the office he held, saying that Americans had the right to free speech, even if he disagreed with it.

That is why when President Obama attacked his political opponents yesterday, it just made me sad. He stooped down low, rendering his title to something less than how I view it. He was just an everyday politician, caring more about his backside than the country he was elected to lead. During the past couple of years, I have grown in my respect for President Bush. When he was attacked and mauled by the public relations machine of the far left, he never attacked back. 

I think President Obama should learn by watching President Bush's example.

Third, I hope these debt reduction plans start a great national debate — should we follow the liberal ideaology of President Obama or the conservative ideology of men like Paul Ryan? What I hope for more is that this debate doesn't fall into the "Your momma wears combat boots" mentality of our national politics. We need a serious debate, not one where one side accuses the other of trying to kill grandma to give tax cuts to the rich. A serious debate over the future of the federal government would be good..

Not that this debate will settle anything — as it is with politics, the national political climate changes rather fast with liberals taking over and then doing something that makes conservatives run and take back control of the government, or vice versa. But what I believe what we need is a debate.

Fourth, my Christian ethic compels me to write about this topic. As Christians, we have an obligation to love our neighbor. We have a moral duty to be different than what the sinful world pulls us to be. Calling people names? Drawing pictures of our leaders with Hitler mustasches? Smearing people for the fun of it? That is not what our Christian faith compels us to do.

Christ1 In fact, our Christian faith and ethic drives us to show that we are better, different in all aspects of our lives. In the understanding of the two kingdoms, (we are in the world, not of the world), who we are to God (bought at the price of His Son's death on the cross for our salvation) plays a direct role in how  we are to live in this world. We are sinners, forgiven through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. How we take this reality of who we are and show it in our lives is critical to living out our faith as an example to the world. An example? Yes! We show what our God means to us in how we live.  We, forgiven and Baptized sinners who rise to new life each day, are different than the unrepentant, sinful world we live in. 

Does a Christian call his political oppoent someone who wants to hurt grandma in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy? No. A Christian tries to put the best construction on what our political opponents do. 

We can disagree politically, but it is how we disagree that defines our character more than anything. To confess for a moment, I have not always held to this ideal. I was a rabid political animal, ready to destroy my enemies rather than sit down to share a cup of coffee with them.

But as a Christian, and as a pastor today, my faith drives me to be a better person. 

Fifth, I believe Charles Krauthammer on Fox News last evening spoke to the heart of the matter:


1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Marianne Herrmann
    Apr 14 2011

    Wow – Pastor Iovine, I thought that when I read the heading of your blog it would show some sympathy to those who are really being wronged here…the American people who are crushed by the debt and rising costs. Now the GOP does not want to help those who are poor or elderly, they want to give great tax breaks to those who are richer than anyone’s wildest dreams. And as far as the pot calling the kettle black…not only did Sarah Palin and the Republican Presidential candidate encourage terrible slurs against President Obama, Sarah Palin also talked about “locked and loaded” and many other comments concerning taking arms against those supporting our President. Mike Huckabee even defended Michelle Obama against comments from Sarah Palin, the person you voted for. There is an old southern joke. In Georgia, a joke was told about a black man who was a young politician working in Georgia. The good old boys decided to put him in his place. So they gave him ridiculous tasks and very difficult jobs figuring he would either get discouraged or fail. He kept besting them and they got angrier and angrier. Finally, they said that there would be a state fair and they wanted him to participate. They said one of the games would be in the middle of a great big arena. They insisted he be buried up to his neck in the middle and loosed an angry,hungry lion into the arena. The lion was so hungry and enraged he leapt at the head of the black man and overshot his mark. The man then did the only thing he could which was to bite the leg of the lion. As one, all of the men in the audience stood up straight in the bleachers of the arena and screamed, “Fight fair you dirty ——.” This is the position President Obama is in. The party of no is trying every way to demean him, saying he has no place being the president even thought he was voted in by the American people. They are saying he is a muslim and not a Christian even though he professes his Christian faith. They have attacked his wife, they have called him horrible names, but the minute he stands up for the weak, elderly, and poor, you are going to mention that he was cruel? You have got to be kidding. He cannot win. He cannot do anything right according to these people. You voted for John McCain who attacked President Obama’s charachter: (This is from October 4, 2008)
    John McCain attacks Barack Obama’s character in bid to rescue campaign
    John McCain will try to revive his flagging presidential prospects by launching an all-out character assassination on Barack Obama, branding his Democratic rival an untrustworthy political extremist who is “too risky for Americans”.
    By Tim Shipman in Washington 12:31PM BST 04 Oct 2008
    The move comes amid growing signs that Mr McCain’s closest aides do not believe he can win the race for the White House in a “fair fight”.
    The Sunday Telegraph knows of at least three occasions in the last month where members of his inner circle have voiced fears that he is doomed to defeat.
    Voters have flocked to Mr Obama during the current economic crisis, and Mr McCain has lost the lead in several key swing states he must win if he is to have any chance of victory in November.
    A former McCain strategist familiar with the senator’s tactical discussions told The Sunday Telegraph that he would pursue the “nuclear option” targeting Mr Obama personally in the final month leading up to November’s vote.
    Republicans have leapt on a New York Times story which accused Mr Obama of having played down his relationship with the former terrorist turned education professor William Ayres, whose Weather Underground group bombed the Pentagon in the 1960s and with whom Mr Obama worked on community projects in the mid-1990s.
    So, there were such horrible accusations thrown at President Obama and he always rose above it when he was personally attacked. But now the GOP is attacking the poor, elderly, teachers, demonizing plain workers who have stagnating paychecks, rising costs, no healthcare if they are unemployed, etc. He is defending these people with no voice and you choose to say he is cruel? I have to say you are not seeing this clearly. Christ wanted us to lift up the poor and help those who could not help themselves. The GOP refuse to ask the richest of the rich who were bailed out on Wall Street, who are taking million dollar bonuses, not paying taxes through loopholes, and asking seniors to pay more for their healthcare costs. You yourself have health problems and I thought you might understand. I had a heart attack, was in the hospital for 8 days and was charged over 400 thousand dollars. Right now my home of 35 years is at stake . I may lose it and be out on the street. Myself with my husband and a gravely ill daughter. I have been horrified and embarassed by the attacks on our President by the GOP and the tea party activists. It is a disgrace. They come with their guns to the rallies. Disgusting. They condone violence. They say that the richest of the rich are being unfairly targeted instead of admitting that they are targeting President Obama. I am so surprised by your post and so saddened by it.


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