AP reports on President Barack Obama's commitment to the Christian faith, which has only gotten deeper during his time in the White House:
Every year on Aug. 4, the president's birthday, Obama convenes a group of pastors by phone to receive their prayers for him for the year to come. During the most challenging of times, prayer circles are organized with prominent religious figures such as megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist.
And each morning for the past five years, before most of his aides even arrive at the White House, Obama has read a devotional written for him and sent to his BlackBerry, weaving together biblical scripture with reflections from literary figures like Maya Angelou and C.S. Lewis.
"I've certainly seen the president's faith grow in his time in office," said Joshua DuBois, an informal spiritual adviser to Obama who writes the devotionals and ran Obama's faith-based office until earlier this year. "When you cultivate your faith, it grows" [Josh Lederman, "Obama's Religion Is out of Spotlight But Christian Spirituality Serves During Tough Times," AP via Huffington Post, 2013.10.19].
Rev. Rep. Steve Hickey looks this report in the eye and says baloney:
Reading this you'd think he was a Bible thumper. Glad to hear some see evidence of a Christian faith. I detect nothing of the sort [Rev. Rep. Steve Hickey, Facebook post, 2013.10.19].
I maintain that if you can't take President Obama's words and actions as proof that he's Christian, then you can't really believe that anyone else is a Christian. There's more evidence available establishing that Barack Obama reads the Bible, prays, and goes to church than there is about you or anyone with whom you go to church.
And would someone please explain to me why it is so important to some Christians to prove that they are Christians and to prove that the President is not? Isn't it more important and more Christian to acknowledge that all are unworthy sinners—that you yourself are an unworthy sinner, as undeserving of God's grace as anyone else at whom you're pointing your finger—and to then focus on getting that plank out of your own eye?
President Obama says faith and prayer matter to him:
First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control—and my main responsibility is to love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. Now, I don’t always live up to that standard, but it is a standard I am always pursuing.
My faith is also a great source of comfort to me. I’ve said before that my faith has grown as president. This office tends to make a person pray more; and as President Lincoln once said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”
Finally, I try to make sure that my faith informs how I live my life. As a husband, as a father, and as president, my faith helps me to keep my eyes on the prize and focus on what is good and truly important [President Barack Obama, interview, "Faith in America," Cathedral Age, Midsummer 2012].
Ideology keeps people from seeing the plain fact of President Obama's prayerful faith. Pope Francis says prayer is key to Christianity, and ideology is Christianity's enemy:
“The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”
The Pope continued, Jesus told us: “You burden the shoulders of people [with] many things; only one is necessary.” This, therefore, is the “spiritual, mental” thought process of one who wants to keep the key in his pocket and the door closed: “The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh? Already the Apostle John, in his first Letter, spoke of this. Christians who lose the faith and prefer the ideologies. His attitude is: be rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness. This can be the question, no? But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door” ["Pope Francis at Mass Calls for Greater Openness," Vatican Radio, 2013.10.17].
Even the Pope won't convince Christian denialists to get off their "Obama's not Christian!" hobby horse. But just remember: if Barack Obama doesn't have enough Christian ID to get past your church's bouncer, then nobody does.
And what do you have a bouncer in front of your church for, anyway?