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Obama’s faith…

April 9, 2008

Here is a short piece written by Peter J. Leithart, November 17, 2007

In the December issue of The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan describes Barak Obama’s conversion. In an interview with Sullivan, Obama said, “I didn’t have an epiphany. What I really did was to take a set of values or ideals that were first instilled in my from my mother, who was, as I called her in my book, the last of the secular humanists – you know, belief in kindness and empathy and discipline, responsibility – those kinds of values. And I found in the Church a vessel or a repository for those values and a way to connect those values to a larger community and a belief in God and a belief in redemption and mercy and justice. . . . I guess the point is, it continues to be both a spiritual, but also an intellectual, journey for me, this issue of faith.”

Sullivan also quotes a June 2007 speech in Connecticut, where Obama gave a testimony: “One Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A Weight deliver a sermon called ‘The Audacity of Hope’ [which Obama later used as a title for one of his books]. And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, he would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.”

Later, he walked the aisle to “affirm my Christian faith.” His skepticism and questions remain, but “kneeling beneath the cross on the South Side, I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering his truth and carrying out his works.”

In another article in the same issue of The Atlantic Marc Ambinder says that his run for President is a response to that same call: “Obama’s friends speak of this process as his ‘calling.'” And the realization that he might be president goes back to a December 2006 visit to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, where Obama reportedly received a standing ovation for a talk about AIDS in Africa.

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