“Wrong” Kind of Christian

Recently, CNN’s Belief Blog ran article about President Obama’s faith that was originally titled “Is Obama the ‘Wrong Kind’ of Christian”, but it seems they were pressured into changing it to “The Gospel According to Obama“. I’m not a big fan of censorship and that’s what this was. Usually, it’s the Religious Right that gets their panties in a wad and demands something be taken down or changed, but this time it was the left complaining. After reading the article, I don’t see what the fuss was all about. My first response was “If Obama’s the wrong kind of Christian, so am I. I say that because we share a lot of the same beliefs. I’m not alone in this, there is a growing movement from something called the Christian Left (Facebook page here) that’s right there with me.

Lest you think we’re bunch of left-wing hippies who sit around drinking coffee and talk about love and flower power, let me give you a rundown on the things we believe. First and foremost, we love God with all our mind, with all our strength and with all our heart and we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. We believe in social justice, that everyone deserves a chance at a good life for themselves and their family. We believe in economic justice, so that everyone makes a living wage and isn’t oppressed by their employer. We believe in equality, that everyone, black, white and brown; gay, straight, bisexual and transsexual, should be treated as a human being with certain inalienable natural and civil rights. We believe in feeding the hungry, giving water to those who thirst, clothing the naked and visiting the prisoner. We believe that everyone has a right to decent medical care that won’t bankrupt them or withhold healing measures. We are believers in the Social Gospel because we know that working to make people’s lives better right here and right now brings us  one step closer to seeing the Kingdom of God here on earth. And, that’s at least as important (if not more so) as “saving souls”.

If you’re wondering what all this has to do with the President and the article written about him, he believes many, if not all, of these things. The fact that President Obama is a progressive Christian, just like a lot of others, is one of the reasons that many on the right think he’s not really a “Christian”. As Rev. Gary Cass, president of the Christian Anti-defamation League says in the article, ““I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity”. Cass says Obama has never spoken of being “born again”. Nor has he heard a dramatic conversion story from the President. Obama talks about his faith and goes to church, but Cass says ““Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.” This is the narrow mindset that dominates (not just) conservative Christianity these days. It says “If you don’t believe exactly as I do, you’re not really a Christian”. And, that’s what people mean when they call the President or any other progressive the “wrong kind” of Christian. If being the “right kind” of Christian means hating whole groups of people because they dare to love differently than I do, condemning poor people to a miserable existence because I want to keep “my” money and worshipping Republican Jesus, I’m happy to be the “wrong kind” of Christian.