Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
No, I don't actually believe that. I don't honestly know, for certain, what President Obama's religious beliefs are. I do know that he has said he is a Christian and that he attends Christian services. If you buy me a beer and promise not to take me seriously, I'll tell you that I suspect that he says he is a Christian because he was raised in a Christian household and that he goes to services because, sadly, he wouldn't be president if he didn't. I'll also tell you that I suspect he doesn't really put much stock in Christian mythology -- or any other, for that matter; I think he's far too smart for that.
But there are those who really do believe that President Obama -- Barack Hussein Obama -- is indeed a Muslim, by heritage if not by active association. They will tell you that once a Muslim, always a Muslim and that, somehow, the fact that his father was a Muslim somehow mystically controls him and forces him to be a Muslim whether he wants to or not. (Funny how dead Christian parents can't influence their kids in the same way -- I guess Islam is more powerful that Christianity. But I digress...) They will tell you that, at the very least, Obama goes out of his way not only to not offend Muslims but to support them. And this rumour is so prevalent that a recent study found that 1 in 5 Americans believe that our sitting president is a Muslim.
This is so widespread that the White House has actually issued statements saying that Obama prays daily and consults with his spiritual advisors regularly. Personally, I would like to believe our leader and one of (if not the) most powerful men in the world relies on logic and reason to govern the country, rather than mystics and soothsayers, and that he only says pretends to hear voices to mollify the illiterate morons that he has been tasked with caring for. But that's just me, you know, one of those baby-eatin' atheists. None of this, however, is the point I'd like to make right now.
Let's play a little game we thinkers like to call stipulation. Let's pretend, just for the moment, that Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States of America, is a devout Muslim instead of a devout Christian.
Let's even go a little further and say that not only is he a Muslim but his intent, his reason for becoming president is to turn this country into a Muslim nation. He wants to base all laws on the Qur'an and force everyone to adhere to the morals of his religion, from burqas to polygamy and so on. Anyone who was not Muslim would, at the very least, be ostracized and, possibly, punished or killed.
Well, first off, I'm not sure how, other than in the details, that's any different from what Christians have been trying to do for decades with, I might add, a fair bit of success.
Even so, there are reasons why it simply wouldn't work. The president is not king; he does not have absolute authority (despite what some may have thought in the past *cough*Dubya*cough*). Neither Congress nor the Supreme Court would let him get away with it. Further, groups like the ACLU would surely step in and sue the pants off the government for letting something like that happen.
You see, there's this annoying little bit in the constitution that says the president, the Congress, and even the Supreme Court are forbidden from doing that. It's called the first amendment and, as Thomas Jefferson so famously and eloquently wrote:
... I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
So it really doesn't matter what Obama's beliefs are -- the only influence they have is upon Obama himself. Given his past history, either those beliefs led him to make decisions that we agree with or not; clearly a majority of the population approved of his performance prior to being elected president (when he was also influenced by those same beliefs).
So whether it's Reagan and his psychic, Dubya and his Christian God, or Obama and whichever imaginary friend you care to believe he believes in, that same first amendment that keeps God out of the classroom makes certain that a president can't force his or her God -- whichever God that might be -- on the rest of the country.