Today, a friend of mine linked me to an article by About.Com's atheism spokesman, Austin Cline. It raised some of the concerns that Cline has about his ability to live with Barack Obama's religious views should he become the next President of the United States. Cline thinks Obama is sending out mixed messages that may either represent the Senator's confused thinking or simply that he is talking out of both sides of his mouth.
I was shocked at the low level of logic and reason that Cline used. I like to think that we atheists and agnostics are generally "a cut above" when it comes to the use of our free-thought capability. What disturbed me most from his article was this. First, Cline quotes Obama and then dissects the comment.
And by the way, we need Christians on Capitol Hill, Jews on Capitol Hill and Muslims on Capitol Hill talking about the estate tax. When you've got an estate tax debate that proposes a trillion dollars being taken out of social programs to go to a handful of folks who don't need and weren't even asking for it, you know that we need an injection of morality in our political debate. ... So the question is, how do we build on these still-tentative partnerships between religious and secular people of good will? It's going to take more work, a lot more work than we've done so far.
We need Christians on Capitol Hill? What kind of statement is that? Almost all legislators are Christians — in fact, they are a higher percentage of legislators than they are of the general population. It makes no sense to say that "we need Christians on Capital Hill" when almost everyone on Capitol Hill is already a Christian. I would only expect such a statement from a Christian Nationalist who doesn't believe that most Christians in America are "real" Christians in the first place.
Really, Austin? Seems terribly clear to me that Obama was saying that we need Christians on Capitol Hill to demonstrate the morals they claim their faith informs, in this case by taking a hard look at an unfair estate tax which would cost social programs dearly. This is a classic case of taking out of context, in particular his dwelling (needlessly) on the first part of the sentence "We need Christians on Capitol Hill".If he really wants to know how Obama would likely allow his faith to inform his decision making, Cline could have done a little more research. There is plenty of information out there like this video, which I think would have greatly assuaged his concerns. Is it too much to ask of a fellow rational thinker? Anyway, we know we are going to have a President who represents some religious tradition. That being the case, Obama is a man of faith that this atheist will gladly accept.