I recently came across a video on YouTube, although it was because a friend of mine shared it with me who got it from a friend. Regardless of how I came upon it, the YouTube video is titled “Obama Mocks & Attacks Jesus Christ And The Bible/Video/Obama Is Not A Christian.” This particular video was posted on October 12th, 2008. At this point, you’re probably curious why I would even write about the video on June 25th, 2012. For one, the video still exists for people to witness, behold, and guzzle down unwittingly. Another reason, is that because it still exists, it still has influence. My friend, who showed me this video, was outraged at the fact that his friend, who posted it initially – believed what it had to say. This of course is a fundamental problem with politics and the abundance of fact-free campaign ads, as this video was meant to function as.  The video, which is only 2:09 long, scrapped together a few moments from a keynote address called “Call to Renewal” on June 28th, 2006. The text of the video will be shared here, which was gathered from a website (as I did not feel like transcribing it myself), and edited as there are some errors. I will explain how this video is misleading, and how it garners to the population of voters who would rather accept things blindly, through biased assumptions, and a deficit in critical thought. The video can be quoted as (and of course it his highly recommended that you watch the video before continuing):
“[Narrator]On June 28th 2006, Senator Barack Obama gave a speech to the Call To Renewal Conference. Where he explains why he finds it so difficult for America to use the bible to help guide our public policy. [Obama] Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with, Leviticus which suggests slavery is okay? Or we can go with, we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount? A passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application. Folks haven’t been reading the bible. [Narrator] Senator Obama after you so arrogantly mocked and ridiculed the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the Sermon on the Mount, taking those passages from the Bible so painfully out of context you then condescendingly stated quote: “Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.” un-quote. As if the American people don’t know what’s in there. The real question is, do you know what’s in there Senator? For instance, did you not know that most Christians and Historians agree that the Sermon on the Mount, contains the most spiritually inspiring words ever uttered by Jesus Christ or any other religious leader. And as far as you sarcastic remark regarding the Defense Department not being able to survive the Sermon on the Mounts application, I can assure you Senator that Christ would never advocate to turning the other cheek to terrorists and America’s enemies. As your smug laughter so clearly implied. And did you not know Senator Obama that the book of Deuteronomy which you also arrogantly mock and ridicule is what gave us the Ten Commandments. Folks all those condescending remarks distorting our Judeo-Christian Bible did not come out of the mouth of Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright. No! It came straight out of the mouth of Barack Obama. [Obama] Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.”
Before I continue with an analysis, I feel that it is necessary to share a few observations. First, this small video was only 2:09 in length as compared to the entirety of the original speech that Obama gave, which lasted 43:31. Second, in this small video, the extent to which Obama is quoted is only 81 words – out of 4,592 (0.017% of the actual speech). The narrator used three times as many words (245) to critique Obama’s entire speech, personality, and religion only to conclude that he wasn’t, in fact, a Christian. Not that this is particularly earth shattering, it does at least, in some small way, show how things can be sorely taken out of context from its original message, and then hurled into the public domain – dominated by bliss and ignorance – where it will be perceived as fact rather than the fiction that it is. First, the narrator states that this 43 minute speech is Obama’s effort to explain why he finds it difficult for America to use the Bible to help guide public policy. An interesting thesis, really. As for what Obama had to say, this is it:
“…I’d like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we’ve been seeing over the last several years.”
In one sense, the narrator is correct, Obama is talking about the quarrels involved in regulating policy through the lens of the Bible, or religion. On the other hand, however, the narrator comes across as though this quarrel is subject only to Obama, the context for which follows makes this particularly clear in my very firm opinion. With that all having been said, I would be hard pressed to trust any political leader if they found it easy to base policy on their own religion. “Legislating morality” as it’s called. More importantly, Obama clearly stated that he wishes to offer ideas so that everyone can live freely in their own minds, in their own homes, without fear of being forced into – or away from – religion. After showing a clip from the speech, the narrator then unwittingly, and rather arrogantly deciphers the previous 75 words. You see, arrogance is defined as “an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.” For one thing, the clip that was used showed no arrogance, and any that could be seen fuming from the president was due to a lack of contextual understanding. This is what the president said prior to the clip:
“Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s?”
I am baffled by the perception that Obama is being ‘arrogant’ in stating this and following it with what was cited in this two-minute video. It wasn’t said as if he was superior, he wasn’t overbearing, nor was he presumptuous and assuming. In 1948, 95% of American’s, based on Gallup Polls from the time, were either Protestant (69%), Catholic (22%), or Jewish (4%), whereas people who had no religion were a meager 2%, and undesignated were 3%. Today, on the other hand, people who don’t have a religion make up 13% of America’s population, Protestants make up 42%, Catholics make up 23%, Jews make up 2%, Christian (non-specific) make up 10%, and then Mormons make up 2%. Importance of religion has also changed, for instance in 1992, 58% of respondents felt that religion was very important to them, whereas 12% felt that it wasn’t very important at all. In 2011 on the other hand, 55% (-3%) felt that religion was very important, and 19% (+7%) felt that it wasn’t very important.  Religion as being an important part of daily life has even changed, as 65% feel that it is, and 34% do not. Moving on, the narrator states that Obama has ridiculed the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The word ‘ridicule’ means that something or someone has been the subject of mockery or derision. And those words mean the use of scorn to show contempt, laughing at someone through the uses of action or speech.  A few quotes from Leviticus:
“[20:9] For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. [20:10] And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. [20:11] And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. [20:12] And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them. [20:14] And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. [20:18] And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.’ [24:16] And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. [24:17] And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. [24:18] And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. [24:19] And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; [24:20] Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. [24:21] And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.” “[25:44] Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. [25:45] Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. [25:46] And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”(These deal with slavery – which Obama was talking about. However, slavery can also be seen in various other locations of the bible where it is deemed as acceptable: Exodus 21:2-21, Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Luke 12:47-48, Deuteronomy 15:12-18, Leviticus 25:48-53, the list goes on.)   “[26:1] And ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God.”
These are only a few of the passages that I found relevant for the purpose of this critique in reference to Leviticus. This book also speaks about maintain facial hair, only marrying virgins, prostitution, eating only clean and ‘holy’ things/food, incest, bestiality, and a whole host of other societal standards. Yet, we don’t follow these standards, as a matter of fact, the cleanliness of food, sacrifice, the Sabbath, facial hair, are practiced predominantly by the Jewish community anymore (as has been my experience). Furthermore, it is required that a person marry someone from their people (their society/city/community). It was expressed that “strangers” were not allowed to be married – or, non Jewish – lest she or he be cast from their people. I know several Jewish people, converts and non-converts. I know liberal, conservative, and orthodox Jews. I know Catholics, and I know a bucket full of Christians. Interestingly, some Catholics follow these same guide lines, along with Orthodox Jews, but that’s it. Will then some 60% of America’s Christian population go to Hell, or otherwise be punished as given Leviticus by their LORD? It’s an interesting question to ponder, and one for which Obama was trying to point out. Rather than go through Deutronomy, as the conclusion will the same, I will provide a more comprehensive, although not complete list of ‘abomination’, many of which aren’t adhered to in modern days by Christians (of any kind), or Jews:
“Unclean things (Lev. 7:21) , Customs of pagans (Lev. 18:30), Idols (2 Chr. 15:8; 1 Pet. 4:3), Sins of men (Ps. 14:1; 53:1), Cheating (Mic. 6:10), Lost souls (Rev. 21:8), Any Idolatrous practices (Dt. 12:31; 13:14; 17:4; 18:9; 20:18; 29:17), A forward man (perverse; one who turns aside (Pro. 3:32; 11:20), A proud look (Pro. 6:16-17), A lying tongue (Pro. 6:17; 12:22), Hands that shed innocent blood ((Pro. 6:17), A wicked scheming heart (Pro. 6:18), Feet that are quick to sin (Pro. 6:18), A false witness that speaks lies (Pro. 6:19), A sower of discord (Pro. 6:19), Wickedness (Pro. 8:7), A false balance or scale (Pro. 11:1), Sacrifices of the wicked (Pro. 15:8; 21:27), The way of the wicked (Pro. 15:9), The thoughts of the wicked (Pro. 15:26), The proud of heart (Pro. 16:5), Justifying the wicked (Pro. 17:15), Condemning the just (Pro. 17:15), Divers, dishonest weights (Pro. 20:10, 23), Divers, dishonest measures (Pro. 20:10) ,Refusing to hear the law (Pro. 28:9), Prayers of the rebel (Pro. 28:9), Eating flesh of peace offerings on the 3rd day (Lev. 7:18), Homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Dt. 23:18), Taking ornaments from idols when being destroyed (Dt. 7:25-26), Offering an imperfect animal to God as a sacrifice (Dt. 17:1), Any traffic with demons (Dt. 18:7-12), Wearing clothes of the opposite sex (Dt. 22:5), Bringing the hire of a harlot or sodomite into God’s house (Dt. 23:18), Re-marriage of former companions (Dt. 24:1-4), Cheating others (Dt. 25:13-16), Making images/idols (Dt. 27:15), Idols of Ammon (1 Ki. 11:5),Idols of Moab (1 Ki. 11:7; 2 Ki. 11:13), Idols of Zidon (2 Ki. 23:13), Incense offered by hypocrites (Isa. 1:13), Eating unclean things (Isa. 66:17), Offering human sacrifices (Jer. 32:35), Robbery (Ezek. 18: 6-13),Murder (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Adultery (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Violence (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Breaking vows (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Lending with interest to a brother (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Lying with a menstruous woman (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Hardness of heart (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Injustice (Ezek. 18: 6-13), Worship of anti-Christ (Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Mt. 24:15; 2 Th. 2:4; Rev. 13), Incest (Lev. 19: 6-30), Things highly esteemed by man (Lk. 16:15), Many other sins of the nations (Lev. 18: 26-29; Dt. 18: 9-12; 20:18; 29:17; 1 Ki. 14:24; 21:2, 11; 23:24; 2: 28:3; 33:2; 34:33; 36:14; Ezek. 7: 3-20; 8: 6-17; 16: 2-58; 20: 4-30; Rev. 17: 4-5), Love of money(Jeremiah 8:12, Luke 16:15), Dishonest Trade(Proverbs 11:1, Deuteronomy 25:13-16, Proverbs 20:23).”  
I believe that my point has been driven home. But, more importantly, Obama’s point is that there are many different interpretations of the Bible. To further show this point, it is estimated that there are 33,000-41,000 different denominations of Christianity.    So the point still stands, whose Christianity is going to be used to guide public policy? Individuals who stand against Gay Rights and their right to marry often do so from a Biblical perspective, one riddled with literal translations and an idea that what the Bible says is the perfect unaltered word of God – typically quoting Leviticus (shown above). On the other hand, there are the Anglicans who have openly supported homosexuals in their endeavors to seek equality in both marriage and the ability to be a bishop, several examples would be: Gene Robinson, Otis Charles, Mervyn Castle, Arthur Stockwood, Derek Rawcliffe, Peter Tatchell, Terry Brown, Jeffrey John, and Mary Douglas Glasspool to name a few of no doubt, many. Obviously, homosexuality isn’t the only issue for which Christians turn to the Bible for advice, there’s the matters of women’s rights, health care, war, genocide, abortion, welfare, how to deal with the homeless and the poor, education, and even taxes. Unfortunately, there lacks a concrete and specific consistency when it comes to religion, especially Christianity. This is not meant to be a jab, it’s a truth that Christians should come to terms with so that they may resolve it. Christians stand for people whereas others stand against, but all at the same time they seem to forget the very historical lessons for which the Old Testament is supposed to provide in order to fully live by the New Testament. This is where I shift gears, as I tackle Obama’s statement about the Sermon on the Mount being radical in nature, so much so that America’s Defense Department doesn’t stand a flame to its stature and awe. Further, I will critique the narrator’s comment and assurance that Jesus Christ himself wouldn’t simply forgive Terrorists, or America’s enemies – no doubt a very conceited and arrogant statement. How presumptuous must one be to assure the deeds of their God, their Savior, the one who died for all of our sins – and vehemently preached love, peace, and most importantly; forgiveness. Various denominations within Christianity have taken what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount to take a lifestyle of non-violence. Various passages include the Beatitudes (Book of Matthew), which are:
[5:3] Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [5:4] Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. [5:5] Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. [5:6] Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. [5:7] Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. [5:8] Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. [5:9] Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. [5:10] Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [5:11] Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. [5:12] Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
How many of these may be ignored according to Jesus to still have a powerful impact? Must this be done only in matters relevant to the heart, or through action as well? Some argue that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, meaning that those laws became obsolete whereby he then gave new laws. Others argue that Jesus, in fulfilling the Old Laws, wasn’t destroying them, but rather made them perfect. In other words, it was too literal to simply take an eye for an eye because it didn’t contend with the issues of the heart.  Regardless of these perspectives, what’s so merciful about invading Iraq and Afghanistan? What’s righteous about it? What’s merciful and righteous about being the sole reason, or assisting in the deaths of 105,052 – 114,731 Iraqi civilians?  Or the 12,793+ Afghani civilians?  If peace can only be had through the processes of death, then may death fall upon all of us. This is a fate that we may all face, but the peacemakers bring not peace, but war, torment, pain – death. Peace, according to Jesus, was not meant to be found through armed conflicts and resolutions but through matters of the heart. There’s nothing heart-felt about bombing innocent people. It is a severe transgression upon all faiths to justify a merciless conflict on a foundation of vengeance and all in the name of vengeance. There’s no self-defense in such an act, only self-defeat. There is no discernible difference between the aggressor, or the defendant. To suggest that such an invasion into Iraq or Afghanistan was in self-defense relegates us as the victim. Coincidentally, the original transgressors made the same argument from their religious texts, the Quran – which to much similar words preaches that war is not to be had unless in self-defense, that civilians, women, children, and captives of war must in no circumstances be harmed. Throughout the book of Matthew, Jesus spoke about the Phrisees, who he thought of as liars lacking in moral substance. American’s have become vengeful, riddled with pride, and money who then hold a torch and claim it to the light of the righteous but through everything Jesus said not to do – we conquer. How is this remotely Christian? My point, is that the Department of Defense doesn’t pass muster to the radical (as it was in its time, and still is today – for in many ways we have become the Pharisees) concepts for which Jesus spoke of in Matthew (and can be seen in Luke and Mark). The narrator’s intent was to mix expected conservatives attitudes – which Obama didn’t have, and therefore make Obama out to be not only anti-conservative, but Anti-Christian. The narrator would have had better luck, pointing out the inconsistencies for which Obama suffers from through incompatible words and actions; such as saying he is Christian but accepting civilian deaths. This is a whole other matter to be dealt with, which will not be addressed here. In sum, I hope that this has been a useful analysis when dealing with deceitful narrators against a person, such as the United States of America. People not only haven’t been reading their Bible’s, but they’ve been following wolves. There’s a deficit of skepticism in America – a concept that America was founded upon. Lastly, I wish to further perpetuate the statement that I am not a Christian. I was raised a Christian, and preferred a life of reason, skepticism, and philosophy. This does not however mean that I do not find relevant and important moral standards within Christianity, or other religions. I believe in justice, I believe in virtues, compassion, forgiveness, peace, and a variety of other principles that are found within all corners of the world – whether it’s by the hand of Christians, or non-Christians. I do not, however, support lies, and deceit in the name of God. Further Reading:
- Just War Theory, Christian Pacifism, Sermon on the Mount       
- Another Example of False Testimony, Lies, Slander, and otherwise very wrong abuses of information. 
- The person behind the video which was analyzed in this blog/paper – Stephen Marks.
- Polls, Statistics, and Religious Makeup of Congress.