Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A curious caveat

Drudge linked to a New York Observer story this morning about actor Stephen Baldwin's threat to leave the country if Obama wins.

Here's a direct link to the video (won't embed here).

And here's how the Observer described it:
Stephen Baldwin, a born-again Christian and brother of Alec, whose most recent "role" was an apprearance on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, told Fox News' Laura Ingraham that he will leave the country if Barack Obama becomes the next president, yet another reason for Hollywood to keep making campaign donations to the Senator.
Emphasis added. Aside from the cheap shot about his career was there any reason to tell the reader he's a born again Christian in the very first sentence? Per Obama, we must effort to fight the smears!

It's doubtful they'd say, for example, "actor Joseph Smith, noted atheist, will leave the country if McCain is elected". Or "actress Mary Jones, a convert to Islam, will leave the country if McCain is elected", or "actor Paul Pot, a life-long Presbyterian, will leave the country if McCain is elected". Sounds like they tossed that little born-again morsel in the first sentence as a warning (religious nut) before proceeding with a story they don't like.

Interesting irony here, though. Obama has also professed to have a personal relationship with Christ. At least he did back in 2004:
At the time, Obama said he was a Christian, that he has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that he reads the Bible regularly and prays constantly. He described his conversion experience in his mid-20s, how he walked the aisle at Trinity United Church of Christ one Sunday in a public affirmation of his private change of heart. But we didn't talk labels, I didn't ask him for one, and he didn't offer.
The reverend must've been behaving himself that day. But when the same reporter asked Obama about faith in 2007 he noticed a slight change:
"Gosh, I'm not sure if labels are helpful here because the definition of an evangelical is so loose and subject to so many different interpretations. I came to Christianity through the black church tradition where the line between evangelical and non-evangelical is completely blurred. Nobody knows exactly what it means.

"Does it mean that you feel you've got a personal relationship with Christ the savior? Then that's directly part of the black church experience. Does it mean you're born-again in a classic sense, with all the accoutrements that go along with that, as it's understood by some other tradition? I'm not sure."

He continued his answer: "My faith is complicated by the fact that I didn't grow up in a particular religious tradition. And so what that means is when you come at it as an adult, your brain mediates a lot, and you ask a lot of questions.

"There are aspects of Christian tradition that I'm comfortable with and aspects that I'm not. There are passages of the Bible that make perfect sense to me and others that I go, 'Ya know, I'm not sure about that,'" he said, shrugging and stammering slightly.
Indeed he won't answer the born-again question. Maybe he's afraid of falling into the same trap that befell Carter and especially Bush 43 when they admitted their status. Or maybe he's not really there yet. Or maybe he's close enough to snag a few votes without going any further. But since he doesn't like labels surely he'd be outraged by the labeling used on Mr. Baldwin, even in the context of his comments.


No clue Obama was planning a religious speech today. Here's a quote:
Now, I didn't grow up in a particularly religious household. But my experience in Chicago showed me how faith and values could be an anchor in my life. And in time, I came to see my faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work.

There are millions of Americans who share a similar view of their faith, who feel they have an obligation to help others.
Despite the similarities between Bush's much-maligned faith-based programs and the pandering aspect towards those he once dissed for "clinging" to their religion due to economics and fear, this smacks somewhat of a distinction. By saying "millions who share a similar view", ie, doing what he did in Chicago by hitting the streets and organizing the community rather than just sitting in church on Sunday, is this a veiling jab at some conservatives who've criticized him and profess to be "born-again" yet never take it to the streets?

Nothing wrong with the premise, just wondering why he felt the need to make the clarification. I agree with him that government works best when it's closest to the people, but am always concerned about what the government might want to teach at the grassroots.

Another interesting aspect is the charities he mentioned, including the CDF, which once featured Hillary Clinton and Susan Thomases, and Donna Shalala, among others. He was careful to say he'd watch to make sure federal monies didn't go to charities violating the SOCAS but it was also a way of showing how he'd get federal dollars to the neighborhoods with this program as an instrument. BTW, I can't but wonder how the NEA will take his assertion that kids aren't learning to read and write in school (part of his rationale for these programs).


Debbie said...

Who would have thought Obama would be giving a week of speeches on patriotism and religion? He is, as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said, "just a politician." He will flip-flop on anything and everything, just to try and get votes. Oh, wait, he's ... evolving ... as the Left says.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

A.C. McCloud said...

True Debbie. The one thing I've noticed this week is some mild sympathy by the press towards McCain. They really didn't like Wes Clark's comments, and McCain did the right thing by not flying off the handle in response (maybe that was the point?).