President Obama’s recent statement on gay marriage has again thrust his religious views onto the front pages. In defending his position, Obama stressed that he and his wife were „practicing Christians” and that his stance was supported by Christ’s teaching of the Golden Rule.
„Since his quest to win the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004, Barack Obama’s faith has provoked controversy. In that campaign, his Republican rival Alan Keyes—a black Catholic—accused Obama of stressing his faith only »when it’s convenient to get votes«. When faith must be followed, explained, and serve as a basis for policies, Keyes protested, Obama pled the »separation of church and state« — a concept that was neither constitutional nor scriptural. »Christ would not vote for Barack Obama«, Keyes asserted, because his behavior was so contrary to that of Christ’s.
These charges prompted Obama to reassess how his faith related to his approach to politics. He concluded that his typical responses to Keyes’ criticisms—that »we live in a pluralistic society« and »I can’t impose my own religious views« on others—had been inadequate.
By 2006, Obama had decisively changed his tactics. At the Sojourners/Call to Renewal conference, he chided Democrats for refusing to talk about religious values out of fear of offending people or belief that religion had no role to play in the public arena. Ignoring »the power of faith« in the lives of Americans was »a mistake«. Obama urged Democrats to discuss »how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy«.”