Some commentators are criticizing President Obama’s response to a supporter at a campaign event who asked him why he is a Christian:
“I’m a Christian by choice,” Obama told his audience here. “My family didn’t — frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn’t raise me in the church.
“So I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead — being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me,” he continued.
“And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God,” Obama said. “But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace.”
I have no interest in questioning Obama’s religious faith, which I believe to be sincere. It is only fair to note, too, that some of what he said was right on the money. But Obama’s answer causes one to suspect that he would be among those who, as in the Pew poll that is also in the news today, would have trouble answering basic questions about his own religion. The Golden Rule is a fine idea, but it is not a principle
of unique to Christianity. Nor did Jesus ever say that we should be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; Obama apparently referred to the story of Cain and Abel.
This is the point I want to make: Biblical precepts are often twisted by liberals to support socialism. Jesus was not a socialist. On the contrary, he explicitly disclaimed any political agenda. And the moral of the story in Genesis is not that we are, or should be, our brothers’ keepers. Rather, the phrase comes from Cain’s answer when God asks him the whereabouts of his brother Abel, whom Cain has just killed. Cain denies any knowledge, and adds the self-exculpatory question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The point of the story is not that Cain was responsible for looking after Abel, like an Old Testament Nancy Pelosi. Cain was condemned not for failing to keep watch over his brother, but for killing him.
Barack Obama is hardly the only liberal who misapplies scripture to support liberal politics, but his answer today provides a useful opportunity to set the record straight.