Friday, June 30, 2006

Barack Obama's "Call to Renewal"


The political left has really had a love-hate relationship with religion over the past couple of decades -- they love to denigrate the religious right and they hate to accept that religion plays a major role in the political life of this country.

Any liberal or Democrat (not necessarily the same thing) who wants to prosper at the national level now has to embrace his/her faith -- but s/he must do it in a way that will not repel the hardcore liberal base of the party, people who tend to reject organized religion as antithetical to liberal politics.

Enter Barack Ombama, the Golden Child of the Democratic party. Ever since his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, Obama has been in the spotlight of Democratic politics. He easily won his Senate seat in Illinois, has a personality that comes across as down-to-earth and authentic, and is extremely articulate when he speaks. And he is young and good looking, which never hurts.

But he one other thing going for him -- he is a Christian who can speak intelligently about his faith and still maintain progressive values. Despite Alan Keyes claims that Jesus would not vote for Obama, he does not scare the religious right in the same way that John Kerry or Hillary Clinton do.

So it is not surprising to hear Obama talk about his faith while giving the keynote speech, "A Call to Renewal," at Sojourner Magazine's Covenant for a New America. It was a masterful speech, the type of speech many of us wish our leaders were more able and willing to offer.

He does not shy away from religious faith as an issue in politics nor does he cater to the right's demands for a literalist faith. It may be this ability, this honesty -- along with his charm and lack of a voting record -- that makes Obama the next Democratic president.


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