Barack Obama, Pastor-in-Chief?

When President Obama next takes to the air to talk about his evolution on the issue of marriage equality, he should be keen to more deeply explain the process within the context of his Christian journey. Part of this is political necessity: 1 in 6 Americans believe the smoking, pork-eating, beer-drinking President is a Muslim, and not just any Muslim: a Muslim this Muslim must be secret Muslim.

But there’s an even bigger social and religious story here. If Obama really has progressed on the issue (that is to say, if the process really was a personal journey and not merely a political one) due in large part to a better or more gracious understanding of the breadth of Christian kerygma,  he’d do well to empower committed Christian progressives by outing himself more clearly as one. As a Christian who has progressed on this issue myself since young adulthood, I can only imagine how helpful this would be for thousands of young Christians across the political spectrum who, regardless of other political ideologies, nonetheless intuit together that homosexuals deserve equal protection under the law.

Progressively progressive Christian young people from conservative backgrounds they can no longer reconcile with the life and work of Jesus need to know there are many places for them in the church and in the world. In a personal capacity, Obama could shine a light on the committed progressive Christians in mainline and emerging traditions.

What I want the President to fundamentally understand is this: the table is set for an influx of young, serious evangelical and other Christians into the broader table of the mainline and into the kinds of discussions about religion and politics the President would prefer over debates about abortion and sexuality. I say this as a progressive, pro-life Christian who believes that most abortion is as morally outrageous as budgets that would end SNAP funding and policies that continue to disenfranchise the poor. I believe that progressive, prophetic political witness must speak these truths to power.

President Obama, I suppose what I’m asking is that you say more and lead from a place of moral and political conviction, and that you show by example that committed Christians, gay or straight, progressive or politically in flux, do, indeed, have places in our churches and in our politics, that the national dialogue does, indeed, get better.   I’m also asking that you drop that states’ rights canard.  No one believes you on that anyway.


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