Over the past seven years of the Bush Administration, I’ve realized that to know what people are lying about, just listen to what they’re accusing others of doing–which is exactly what Christian-right leader and founder of Focus on the Family, James Dobson has done by claiming that Barack Obama is ‘distorting’ the Bible. His comments come in reference to a two-year-old speech Obama gave in June 2006, while speaking to a Christian group.
Check out video of Obama’s full speech after the jump!
“Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?” Obama asks in the speech. “Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is okay and that eating shellfish is an abomination. Or we could go with Deuteronomy which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount.”
“So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bible now,” Obama also said to cheers. “Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.”
On the radio show Tuesday, Dobson said Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.
“I think he’s deliberately distorting the tradition understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,” Dobson said, later adding that Obama is “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.”
Essentially, Dobson is deriding Obama for picking and choosing which Bible passages should determine law. But that is exactly what Dobson and his organization have been doing for years, especially concerning abortion and homosexual rights.
What Obama is vaguely pointing out is that the Constitution endorses non-discrimination, outlaws slavery, and promotes “the general welfare” of all people–all of which the Bible preaches, but is not cut and dry about. He is cherry-picking sections of the Bible that agree with the Constitution, which makes sense, in the context of his speech.
It is not acceptable–or legal–to go the other way around, (i.e., to make the Constitution agree with the Bible). This would be a violation of the Constitution’s own First Amendment; it would constitute the “establishment of religion.”
That said, sections of the Bible do, in fact, advocate (a) redistribution of wealth, called “Jubilee” (Leviticus 25:1-22, Matthew 4:1ff), (b) non-violence, instead of solving all international problems by war (the entire Sermon on the Mount).
So, not only is Obama not ‘distorting’ the Bible, he’s using examples from it to argue that the document should not be directly quoted for the purpose of forming public policy–something both legally and theologically sound.
Dobson, on the other hand, has been at the head of the evangelical movement, portions of which say the Christian religion should be used for personal gain (“God will make you rich!”) and that promotes Constitutional amendments banning Gay marriage, at least partially because of a couple of passages in Leviticus (yes, that’s part of the Old Testament). Both are ‘deliberate distoritions’ of the Bible’s message.
So basically, Dobson is a hypocrite, that doesn’t know what his beloved Bible even says. Because if he did, he’d know exactly how Jesus felt about hypocrites. (HINT: They don’t go to heaven.) So, good luck with that…
UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter, we now have video of Obama’s full speech.