The italics in the title above are hard-earned. President Barack Obama embraced Christianity for two reasons, and neither had anything to do with the person after whom Obama’s newfound faith was named.
These are the same two calculated reasons Obama married Michelle. The move strengthened his desperately shaky identity as an African-American, and it solidified his political base in black Chicago.
In his 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, Obama relates at great length his 1988 conversion at Jeremiah Wright’s church. The one person left out of the retelling is Jesus Christ.
Obama hears his name “Jesus” being shouted and sung at church, but nowhere in Dreams does Obama have anything to say about the man or his mission.
What attracts Obama to church is his ability to participate in a showy way in the larger black experience. He writes—with a little help from his friends—of his presumed conversion:
Those stories-of survival, and freedom, and hope-became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world.
Aligning with the Reverend Wright might not seem a particularly shrewd move for someone plotting to become president, but in 1988 the relentlessly ambitious Obama had his sights set on becoming mayor of Chicago. For this, a base in a large and influential church like Wright’s was essential, especially for an outsider like Obama.
At the time Obama was modeling his career on that of his political hero, the late Chicago mayor, Harold Washington. Washington had used his base in Chicago’s black community to become state senator, congressman, and finally mayor.
“I met [Obama] sometime in the mid-1990s.” terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers would later tell Salon. “And everyone who knew him thought that he was politically ambitious. For the first two years, I thought, his ambition is so huge that he wants to be mayor of Chicago.”
Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell followed Obama in his 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois and later incorporated his reporting into a 2007 book, the relatively tough-minded, Obama: From Promise to Power.
Mendell notes that in 2004 “Obama, without fail, would mention his church and his Christian faith when he was campaigning in black churches and more socially conservative downstate Illinois communities.”
Yet, when Mendell tried to talk to Obama about his faith and his “ever present bible,” Obama proved “uncharacteristically short” in his responses.
When Mendell persisted, Obama claimed that he was drawn to Christianity because “many of the impulses that I had carried with me and were propelling me forward were the same impulses that express themselves through the church.”
In other words, as Obama saw it, Jesus thought pretty much along the same socialist lines as he did.
Although a fellow traveler in the world of Islam, Obama inherited the faith of his mother, “a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism.”
Back in Hawaii, Obama’s communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, reinforced his mom’s “ugly American” riff, and Obama soaked it in. In Dreams, he describes the Americanization of Hawaii as an “ugly conquest.”
After hitting the mainland Obama surrounded himself with “the more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.”
With his new friends, Obama discussed “neocolonialism, Franz (sic) Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy” and flaunted his alienation.
The literary influences Obama cites include radical anti-imperialists like Fanon and Malcolm X, communists like Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and tyrant-loving fellow travelers like W.E.B. DuBois.
“Joseph Stalin was a great man,” DuBois wrote upon Stalin’s death in 1953. “Few other men of the 20th century approach his stature.”
In Dreams, Obama gives no suggestion that this reading was in any way problematic or a mere phase in his development. He moves on to no new school, embraces no new worldview, shares not a single insight into his faith.
For Obama, secular humanism with a third world, anti-American twist has always trumped Christianity. This is evident in his discussion of Hawaii’s heroic Christian missionaries.
Writing six years after his alleged conversion, he cites as the missionaries’ contribution to Hawaiian culture only “crippling diseases.”
Obama may not be the first politician to use Christianity as a voter registration tool—Bill Clinton comes to mind—but on the question of Obama’s true faith, “Don’t know” is the smart answer to give a pollster.
Jack Cashill is the author of numerous books which reveal key elements in our society and its crises, his latest being Popes & Bankers: A Cultural Study of Credit and Debit from Aristotle to AIG.
He is also an independent writer and producer, and has written for Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, American Thinker, and regularly for WorldNetDaily. Jack may be contacted at Cashill.com.