Seeking Political Salvation

September 17, 2008

Last night I went to an event where Barack Obama's religious outreach coordinator, Shaun Casey, spoke about Obama's faith. Casey, a Christian ethics professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., is a good speaker who is clearly committed to helping Obama win. However, I wondered if such efforts were actually a good thing. Casey said that Obama's goal is to (1) stop the myth that Democrats are the anti-God party, and (2) stop the use of religion as a political wedge. It seems that the problem that can arise is that one's zeal in accomplishing goal one could actually add to the problem of goal two. Perhaps showing the problem here was Casey's discussion of the false claims that Obama is a Muslim. Casey called such a claim a "smear" (instead of merely inaccurate), which suggests that the term Muslim is an insult or a dirty word. Such a comment might fall under the category of using religion as political wedge. Such a comment dismisses an entire group of people as unqualified for office, even though the U.S. Constitution clearly states that "[n]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."