How different are they? Really? James Dobson and Barack Obama?
On the face of it there is little, save their shared humanity, that seems to unite the two men. From their skin color to their positions on abortion, gay marriage, poverty, the role of government, from their views on the separation of church and state to their positions on the Iraq War, the men are about as far apart as men can get.
But appearances are deceiving. The men are actually very, very similar. (And this goes beyond their common love of basketball).
Both men see their religious faith as one of their primary political weapons. They take that faith and move in opposite directions, but their philosophy, their spirituality is very similar.
Dr. Dobson attacked Sen. Obama for having a flawed view – a deliberately skewed view – of Biblical theology “deliberately distorting the Bible,” “dragging biblical understanding through the gutter,” “willfully trying to confuse people,” and having a “fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.” Obama responded by saying Dobson either hadn’t read his speech (at a Sojourners event on poverty) or was just trying to score political points.
That back and forth, however, is simply the exchange of men who long ago decided that their faith was a tool for material ends.
It is a common mistake, a common temptation – the temptation to take the very hard work of the spiritual life – living humbly, loving your enemies, putting others first, forgiving always – and replace it with the easy work of politics – the promise that this policy or plan will bring about a sort of spiritual nirvana.
That is what unites Obama and Dobson. That they take those politics in different directions is incidental.