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Obama Antichrist


Around our house we joke that Obama is the Antichrist.

“Did you hear the news?” my wife will say. “Obama was at some foreign conference, and everybody loved him. He must be the Antichrist.” (For those unfamiliar with New Testament eschatology as commonly understood by many evangelical Christians, read the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Very entertaining, I’m told. There’s also a series of DVDs, of which viewing the first was enough to keep me from watching any more.)

I have an interest in Obama not being the Antichrist because before he was elected, I wrote that he was not. If it turns out that he is, then I will have to eat crow.

“That doesn’t prove anything,” I say. “Lot’s of presidents have been popular.”

“Name five,” she says.

We are, perhaps, a little uncharitable.

I like Obama. (“See? He’s drawing you in, too.”) I like listening to him. He sounds intelligent, which is a big improvement. He seems careful and deliberate, which is another change for the better. I hate some of his policies. I hated some of Bush’s policies. I guess I’m one of those people you can’t please all of all the time.

People have notoriously bad memories. Look back at news articles from 2002. Bush was immensely popular. The nation was still reeling from 9/11, and Bush seemed like someone we could trust to save us. Even in 2004, when he was re-elected, he was still riding that wave of popularity. Now Obama is our current savior, helping us out of our fiscal disasters. Wait until 2016. If he is still as popular seven years in the future as he is now, I really will eat crow (properly prepared, of course, roasted over charcoal, slathered with barbecue sauce, and served with grilled vegetables).


Christians On Sudan


The New York Times today published two editorials, both by notable Christian leaders and both concerned with the imminent arrest of Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The first, by Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, criticizes African leaders for their unwillingness to denounce Bashir. Instead, they have petitioned the United Nations Security Council to have the proceedings of the International Criminal Court suspended. “[R]ather than stand by those who have suffered in Darfur, African leaders have so far rallied behind the man responsible for turning that corner of Africa into a graveyard.” Desmond Tutu clearly favors bringing Bashir to justice and sees peace as dependent on justice. “There is no peace precisely because there has been no justice,” he writes.

The second piece is by the president and chief executive of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin Graham. Graham argues that peace must take precedence over justice. He tells of meeting with Bashir and winning concessions that have saved lives and resulted in improved conditions in southern Sudan and Darfur. Graham fears that if Bashir is brought to justice, then someone worse will take his place and the situation in Sudan and Darfur will deteriorate even more.

In this instance I have to agree with Desmond Tutu. It’s hard to imagine things getting really worse in southern Sudan and Darfur, and any head of state who comes after Bashir is bound to take into consideration the fate of his predecessor before pursuing policies that would be even more detestable to the watching world. Moreover, it appears that justice is what the victims themselves want. For more, see Nicholas D. Kristof’s blogs about Sudan and Darfur.


Inauguration Blues


So the inauguration was only a few hours old and Lincoln’s bible was still warm from Obama’s touch, when I received this email in my inbox. It’s the same stale issues in the same strident tone: abortion, gays in the military, same-sex marriage, activist judges, eroding values. Don’t get me wrong. These are all important issues worthy of discussion. But for Focus on the Family, they are also hot-buttons, guaranteed to provoke a response from the faithful.

Obama delivered a stirring speech. He called for Americans to put aside “petty grievances” and work together to solve huge, intractable problems. He called for sacrifice and hard work and unity of purpose. It’s hard to imagine better values for building a nation or a family. Of course, none of that matters because he favors the right to abortion, rights for gays, and is relentlessly liberal.

I admit I’m skeptical. I didn’t vote for Obama. It’s possible his smooth talk and high-sounding phrases will be nothing more. It’s possible he’s just another politician who knows how to work the crowd. I think, at least for the time being, Obama means what he says. I think that’s a hopeful sign, even though he is a liberal Democrat.

I’ve never seen so many people get so excited about anything before. The spirit was infectious. I very nearly got excited myself.

So why the blues? Because the Christian right is so predicatably Christian and so predictably right.