Saturday, January 5, 2008

Barack Obama and Religion

I don't normally like to hear candidates talk about religion, and that includes Democrats, whom I usually much prefer over Republicans. Of all the Republican candidates, Huckabee strikes me as the most likable, but I feel very uncomfortable about his strong religious views. And his policy positions, of course, turn me off completely. Still, I think that he would probably be the strongest candidate that Republicans could field in the general election.

On the Democratic side, I've been leaning to Edwards because of his stands on big business and government. I don't oppose Clinton, but she tends to be more polarizing than her competitors. So I think that she would have a tougher time gaining public support for her programs. I see Obama as the one with the greatest skills as an orator among all candidates, including Republicans. I like him a lot, but I'm not yet certain what kind of policies he would try to implement as President.

I thought it appropriate to bring up the issue of Obama's views on religion, which I think most Americans are ignorant of. I was pointed to this speech from his web site. It is a long speech--maybe 40 minutes--so I only intended to listen to a little of it. I ended up listening to the whole thing. There is one big difference between his speech on religion and the things (mostly sound bytes) that I have heard from all other candidates. He is the only speaker who seems to be able to talk about religion and not make me feel uncomfortable. Like his African-Americanism, he doesn't flaunt his religious faith, but he doesn't run away from it.

I'm an atheist, and I know that there is a religious test for public office in the minds of most Americans. I see many candidates on the right and the left as exploiting religious faith for political gain. I hate it when religion comes up in political debates and we see candidates (mostly Democrats) squirming and trying to come up with coded language that won't displease anybody. It was refreshing to listen to Obama, because he seems to have genuine feelings about religion, but he also seems to get what America is about.

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