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Obama Blows It With "Kingdom on Earth" Comment

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I was really liking Sen. Barack Obama. I was thinking that a Gore-Obama ticket in 2008 would be just what this country needs. (I know, I know, Gore says he has fallen out of love with politics and doesn't want to run. But a girl can dream.)

But then, on October 7, Obama disappointed me, big time. I know he's a religious man, but he overdid it this time. In my opinion, he crossed the line re: separation of church and state when he told the congregation at an evangelical church in South Carolina: "I am confident we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

Clearly he was trying to demonstrate that the Republicans don't have a monopoly on religiosity. But I saw it as pandering to the conservative Christian base that the Republicans have traditionally claimed as their own, and ignoring the Constitution in order to do so. That may win him some points among that crowd, but it cost him some serious points with me (for what it's worth).

A Kingdom right here on Earth, huh?

Two things:

First, if you want to run this country, sir, you should accept that it was established as a representative republic, not a kingdom.

But of course you were talking about a Kingdom of God. That's almost as bad, sir. You see, as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." And, by extension, I think it's safe to assume that the founding fathers didn't think that a presidential candidate should try to establish a religious Kingdom on Earth either.

The First Amendment goes on to say that there shall be no law "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" -- meaning of religion. In other words, here in the U.S., we must remain free to practice any religion we choose -- or none -- and not be coerced into the kind of state-mandated religion that our founders had fled from in England. In other words, non-Christian Americans shouldn't have to live in a Kingdom on Earth for Obama's selected deity (or anyone else's).

So, while I am bothered by the fact that the Republicans (who are not nearly as holy in deed as they might seem in word) have in recent decades cornered the market on religious votes in this country, it bothers me even more to see Democrats recklessly using religion to demonstrate that they can be holy too.

And it bothers me because religion, per the First Amendment, has no place in U.S. politics. Yet, in real 21st-century life, it has such a huge place in U.S. politics. Religion is supposed to be a private thing.

I suspect that Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave.



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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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