Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Only a 55% Majority

One Douglas Todd writing for the Vancouver Sun writes,
Barack Obama would not have been elected president if he were not Christian. Polls show the vast majority of Americans will only vote for someone who is strongly religious, with the religion of choice being Christian.

Unlike in Canada, Obama would not have had a chance to get elected president if he'd been an atheist. That's one of the reasons we heard a lot of religious oratory when Obama was inaugurated. The other reason is Obama seems to take seriously his membership in the liberal denomination, The United Church of Christ.

Still, it's off-putting that U.S. polls by Gallup show only 45 per cent of Americans would be willing vote for a presidential candidate who is atheist. When pollsters turned the question around, more than half admitted they would actually refuse to vote for an atheist. I'm not an atheist, but it seems to verge on mass bigotry ...
This typically 'progressive' op/ed writer, thus, does in a few strokes on the keyboard what he accuses the majority of United States citizens of: the bigotry of a particularly ignorant kind.

Mr. Todd shows an occlusion of epistemological understanding. The 55% of Americans who would not vote for an atheist, though probably incapable of thematizing it this way, are saying that their operating systems are vastly different than that of someone who believes there is no God, and the God revealed in the Christian faith at that. Way different presuppositions, in other words, separate them from atheists. They do not, would not, want a politician in the Oval Office who believes that (a) we're on our own in this maelstrom of cultural upheaval; (b) we got here by a randon, senseless dance of cosmic accidents, culminating in speaking, selling, buying, snarking, brutalizing apes called homo sapiens; and (c) there is no one holding us accountable for our actions; therefore, the ape with the most power, influence, and charisma wins.

Christians believe (a) there is a loving, creating, covenant-making God, revealed most perfectly in Jesus Christ, the "word made flesh" (Jn 1,14); (b) we humans - all of us, except the Incarnation - are "fallen" and therefore absolutely need the grace proffered by God through the Church, particularly in the Sacraments established by Christ; (c) we inevitably return to hubris, violence, and destruction without God's help; and (d) anyone in the Oval Office had better realize our human neediness and God's willingness to help, or else.

No, thank God for the 55% majority who wouldn't vote for an atheist president. I'm rather sorry it is only 55%.


David Nybakke said...

Dear Ath,

I am afraid it is much much smaller than 55% if you really dissected in detail what being Christian meant to these supposedly Christians in the good 'ol US of A. Take the example of UCC - if you polled the UCC folks here in my hometown they would not probably go along with a number of what you hold dearest to being a Christian. They have virtually emptied all meaning out of the creeds. Let's face it the big empty O (or as you so nicely put it, the Puer) won the election and his faith is found in such a liberal denomination as the UCC.

Most Americans walk around giving absolutely no thought to faith or any seriousness of faith on their everyday life (at least they do not do anything in their day to consciously act in a manner that brings out a sense of faith). I think that there are vast numbers of people who simply know of no other way to think of themselves but as Christian and yet they are as far from a professed Christian faith, like one you mentioned in your next to the last paragraph of this post, as one can get and still not be an atheist.

During these next 4 years I believe that we will come to see what it truly means to be Christian (again as you define it) and at the same time we will see the abyss open up wide and become clearly visible between sacramental Christianity and the empty, watered-down version practiced in so many of our churches today.

Athos said...

How true. Or, as Nietzsche put it: human, all too human. Keep writing like this, friend, and we'll have to add my "Lapping Waves" label here at the 4Ms too.

Blessedly, we have a hope the world can't give, nor take away. Cheers