In a recent speech on religious faith and politics in America Sen. Obama, likely Democratic nominee for the Presidency, asked listeners to consider the diversity of Christianity in America. He asked, “whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination?”
This question touched off a series of criticisms from Dobson and his supporters who accussed Obama of “deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology.” The Obama camp then responded that, “any notion that I was distorting the Bible in that speech, I think anyone would be hard pressed to make that argument.”
The dualing accusations are perhaps most interesting insofar as they reflect a kind of internal sqabble among evangelcials instead of a debate between two entirely separate ideologies. In other words, Dobson and Obama are in some ways playing by the same rules and appealing to the same constituency as they both call attention to the roll of the Bible in public life. Dobson’s remarks may reflect a growing concern among conservative evangelicals that the the enitre evangelical movement is beginning to shift to the left as progressive evangelical voices gain an audience.
Read the speech that precipitated Dobson’s response.
Read the CNN pieces on Obama’s response. 1, 2.
Read Don Wycliff’s editorial in the Chicago Tribune.