You know it is campaign season when the left starts quoting the Bible, and the Obama campaign is in full Bible-thumping swing. Gone are the unguarded references to those bitter people who cling to their guns and religion. Instead, the stump speech is now adorned with references to being our brother’s keeper, and we are reminded that much is required of those to whom much is given. The Obama we see on the campaign trail sounds more like a preacher and less like a community organizer.
People familiar with orthodox Christian teaching — as opposed to liberation theology — will instantly note that the scriptures in question convey the exact opposite message from that which Obama intends. In the Christian worldview, caring for our neighbors and giving from what we have is a result of an inner conviction and conversion. Those actions represent submission to God, not to government. Consequently, charitable attitudes and actions are voluntary and not coerced. Jesus told the rich young man to sell his riches to give to the poor, not to redistribute what his neighbor has earned.
But the most interesting facet of Obama’s religious references is not his leftist interpretation of the message; it is the left’s sudden tolerance for mentioning scripture in public. Liberals who constantly warn the rest of us to keep our deepest religious values out of the voting booth seem strangely happy with the daily devotional coming from the White House. Where is the ACLU? Where are those who decry any public suggestion of a power higher than government as establishing a state religion? Though it is tempting to interpret their silence as yet another example of liberal double standards, it is more likely that the left sees Obama’s religious appeals as purely tactical, as less about saving souls and more about saving Obamacare. In that light, we can see Obama’s scriptural references as more in line with Alinsky’s classic Rules for Radicals than with orthodox Christianity.
Alinksky’s fourth rule advises radicals to use the enemy’s “own book of rules” against them. In the worldview of the leftist community organizer, the enemy is those of us who believe that we are entitled to the fruits of our labors and who do not want a central government to rule every aspect of our lives. And our “book of rules” is the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview. But in the worldview of the radical left, morality does not stand on its own; instead, it serves as a “passport” to political power. The left uses the language of traditional morality to cover the reality of their political agenda.
One of Alinsky’s central tenets is that the end justifies the means, and using morality as a smokescreen to gain power is just one of the means that the left has mastered. Liberal rhetoric is sweet; it is the reality that keeps us up at night. People may have voted for Obama’s rhetoric in 2008, but they are living with the reality of high unemployment, skyrocketing gas prices, and a national debt that will lead to ruinous inflation, and the full costs of Obamacare have not hit yet.
After the election of 2008, the new administration joined forces with Harry Reid in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House to push through a radical agenda that stunned mainstream America. The liberal strategy of gradualism gave way to a frontal assault on any remaining vestiges of limitations on the role of government, and Obamacare was the battering ram of that assault. If the government can take over our health care, there is nothing that the government cannot take over, and that point became evident as the Supreme Court considered the case against Obamacare.
But another of Alinksy’s tactics is to pick out and to polarize a target, and Obama has followed suit with his recent warnings to the Supreme Court that overturning Obamacare would be “judicial activism.” After appointing two judicial activists to the court, Obama’s sudden concern about judicial activism comes across as more tactical than heartfelt, as another case of the rhetorical ends justifying the political means. The idea is to bring intense pressure on the court’s conservatives to give in to the left’s demands or to face a political firestorm from the left. In so doing, he is pressuring the court to act more as a legislature, interpreting the political winds instead of the Constitution.
As it is apparently acceptable these days to mention it in public, perhaps Christian teaching would be helpful here. Christians are taught that governments are instituted for our good and that we should show proper respect for legitimate authority.
And in the United States, legitimate authority resides in the Constitution.
Timothy C. Daughtry, Ph.D, is Chairman and CEO of Concord Bridge Consulting and co-author of Waking The Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals At Their Own Game.