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29 August 2011

For Bill Keller: A Score of Religious Questions for President Obama


John on August 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I posted a link this morning. After reading Keller’s piece calling for more careful examination of people’s religious beliefs I have to agree with Ace, he may regret this.

Keller takes pains to assure readers he is not calling for a new litmus test, he just has questions. Funny this is only coming to him now that the race is on and it’s GOP candidates that are front and center. I don’t recall him demanding this much insight into Obama’s relationship with Wright or Pfleger. In fact, I seem to remember the NY Times apologizing for blowing those stories.

Contrary to what Keller seems to think there are still many religious questions that one might ask of the President, not all of which will endear him to particular segments of the electorate. Here’s a sample of questions Keller might ask the President (but which, notably, he hasn’t).

  1. Do you believe the God of the Christian Bible is the same as the God of the Koran? Does this view influence your foreign policy?
  2. Do you believe in hell and if so who is damned? Do you believe in heaven and if so what are the qualifications for entry? Do either of these views influence your interaction with people and or foreign leaders?
  3. Do you believe salvation is individual or collective? From what passages do you take this view?
  4. Do you believe, as some liberals churchmen do (including some you’ve consulted with), that socialism is the system most compatible with the Gospels? Does this influence your public policy and if so how?
  5. Are the stories in Genesis (the Garden of Eden, the Flood, etc.) just stories, actual histories or something else? How does this influence your faith in the modern world?
  6. Can you list the 10 commandements? Do you think this is something a Christian (or religious Jew) ought to be able to do?
  7. When was the last time you read the New Testament and what did you take from it?
  8. Do you read the Bible to your children (or did you when they were younger)?
  9. Have you read any books about theology, historical or otherwise? What did you learn?
  10. How do you integrate your faith with a scientific worldview including belief in evolution?
  11. How does Catholic theology differ significantly from Protestant theology in your view and which view of the Bible do you tend to prefer and why?
  12. Does the Bible influence your views on gay marriage?
  13. What is the Gospel in a few words? How does it affect you personally? As President?
  14. Do you believe Jesus was God? Do you believe Mohammed was a prophet of God?
  15. Do you believe Christ will return to earth in the future?
  16. Do you believe in a future end of days aka Armageddon? Do these beliefs influence your view of Israel and/or foreign policy?
  17. Who is your favorite old or new testament figure excluding Jesus and why?
  18. Is there anything in the Bible that you disagree with? What is it and why?
  19. How do you see your faith and the faith of Christians around the world benefiting humanity?
  20. Why don’t you go to church very often?

Any one of these could be viewed as a gotcha question to a certain segment of society. Questions 1 and 14 are sure to be international news. For that matter, so will question 11. But, hey, Bill Keller says we need to ask more specific religious questions so let’s ask.

Personally, I doubt Obama could answer half of these questions with anything approaching confidence. But then, I don’t expect him to know chapter and verse or even have detailed reasons for his beliefs. He’s an attorney and a layman, not a priest. Still, by Keller’s standard there are all sorts of potential intersections with public policy here. And yet, somehow I doubt Bill Keller cares.

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