Steven Waldman

Rick Santorum apparently wasn’t the first to say Obama wasn’t a real Christian. Conservative columnist Cal Thomas said that because Obama, in an interview with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani, left open the possibility that someone might go to heaven without believing in Christ as savior:

Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn’t meet that requirement. One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian. Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called “false prophets.” [Hat tip: Mark Silk]

First of all, Obama does not “deny” the deity of Christ. What he does question is whether Christ is the sole mediator between God and Man. He was asked that question by Franklin Graham during a meeting with Christian leaders and he said, “Jesus is the only way for me. I’m not in a position to judge other people,” Obama responded,” according to a witness.
Putting aside for a moment whether that is really a requirement for being a Christian (a hot topic), I’m struck by how close Obama’s answer is to that given by George W. Bush gave in his 2000 interview with Beliefnet. “I think that we’re all God’s children, and far be it from me, as a lowly sinner, trying to decide who gets to go to heaven and who doesn’t,” he said. Later, he got into considerable trouble with evangelicals by saying that Christians and Muslims prayed to the same God and that “We have different routes of getting to the Almighty.”
So, if the new standard is that politicians can only call themselves Christian if they believe that Christ is the only path to God and salvation, what should we start callling George Bush?
I used to advocate politicians talking openly about their faith. Perhaps I was naive in that view. When conservatives talk about the faith-basis for their beliefs, they’re accused of shoving their religion down voters’ throats. Now, when Democrats talk about their faith, they’re accused of having false faith or “confused theology.”

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