Over the past year, I have encountered a number of “non-religious” types who were not only avid supporters of Barack Obama, but who also insisted that he was a “closet atheist”.
Although all evidence points to the contrary, they offered a number of plausible reasons like
- I like him, so he’s got to be
- sitting through years of Jeremiah Wright nonsense would make anyone an atheist
- he’s only pretending in order to get elected, same as Sarah Palin
I found none of these reasons compelling, but articles about Obama’s “faith-based office” (“hey, do we have any stamps?” “not sure, why don’t you pray on it?”) are working harder to assuage my fears:
While the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been around for eight years, the Obama White House is very keen to stress that their version of the office will have an entirely different mission. Whereas Bush established the office to “level the playing field” for faith-based service organizations that he argued were unable to compete for federal grants, Obama intends to use his faith office more for policy matters:
I mean, as long as they’re only working on “policy”, I don’t see anything that could go wrong with that. I bet that people chosen for their religious affiliations have all sorts of policy insights that people chosen for their competence or experience would never come up with:
- “Now that we run GM, let’s put electronic Mecca-finders on every dashboard!”
- “Let’s teach kids about Ganesh in biology class, so they’ll know that it’s possible to transplant an elephant’s head on a human’s body!”
- “We should fund a NASA mission to visit heaven!”
- “Can we make it so that churches don’t have to pay any income tax?” “We already do that.” “Oh, sweet!”
I look forward to the broadening of the policy discourse.