Obama extols a biblical vision of equality for all in second inaugural

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend a church service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. RNS photo by Pete Souza/The White House.

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(RNS) A presidential inauguration is by tradition the grandest ritual of America’s civil religion, but President Obama took the oath of office on Monday (Jan. 21) in a ceremony that was explicit in joining theology to the nation’s destiny and setting out a biblical vision of equality that includes race, gender, class, and, most controversially, sexual orientation.

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  • I hate to use the word “exploit” but I hope that the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations, and liberal religious believers, can exploit this event to send the message that religion isn’t inherently socially conservative, politically conservative, anti-gay, anti-science or anti anything decent, reasonable people affirm.

    For 3 decades now the Religious Right has captured the media and persuaded Americans that Evangelicalism was the industry standard for religion. I was very p.o.’d at the last inauguration when Obama featured Rick Warren. The assumption and the whole Obama team’s “People of Faith” rhetoric seemed to be that there were Our People, secular liberals, and the Other, those remote People of Faith who clung to guns and religion, and that mainline Protestants, and other educated, liberal religious believers were a dying breed, too few to be worth counting for political purposes.

  • JDM

    What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.

    Isaiah 5:20-21

    For this reason God gave them up to passions of dishonor; for even their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature, and likewise also the males, having left the natural use of the female, were inflamed by their lust for one another, males with males, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was fitting for their error. (Romans 1)

    A Religious Vision — you could call it that.

    A Biblical vision — that is a real stretch… only if you toss out key relevant sections of the Bible. Come on… lets be honest here. Even secular-humanists don’t try to say the Bible says something it doesn’t say, and it doesn’t say something it does.

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  • Mari

    Excellent point! For too long, the “religious right” has had a very loud voice in politics. Its about time that those of us, who are Liberal Christians speak out.

  • Mike in Wisconsin

    President Obama’s inaugural speech was wonderful. Whether it was religious or political or a little of both, it was the most ethical and hopeful public address I’ve ever heard from an American politician.

  • meifumado

    How about we try something completely different?
    Do away with the fairytale that is religion.
    We do not need a book to tell us whats wrong or right.
    A good person is still a good person with or without religion.

  • Proud to be a fellow Furman grad, David. Great writeup. Marshall Frady would be proud of you and proud to have been there yesterday.
    I was on NPR for about a minute Thursday, called in to make a comment with Taylor Branch and Isabel Wikerson.
    Loved your Quote from Butler Ross; And Myrlie Evers is a Saint; One Righteous Black Woman that chokes me up every time she utters a word….Oh, if it hasnit crossed your radar, get a copy of Paul Harvey’s Moses Jesus and the Trickster. And next time in the company of Evers, even President Obama get word to him as well. Mercer President Underwood is not wrong about this one!!

  • Forgot the main reason I was making a comment. I posted a link to your article on Furman’s Public Facebook wall. Wish I coulda heard your lecture there last year.

  • Randy

    You have a strange definition of the word “all”. It doesn’t mean “gay”. I am gay, but there’s very little people who are good without gods to like in the Inaugural, and in particular Leon’s boldly bigoted benediction.

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  • Without a faith basis, a society will degenerate into anarchy. Anyone who has had a child knows that evil and disobedience is a natural tendency. One of the first words a baby learns from the parents is “no” because they do things that are wrong. Left to himself without guidance, a baby would never mature.

  • jmac

    For the most part, liberal Christians already treat the book as full of fairy tales, taking what they like, dismissing what they don’t like. I find the whole concept of liberal Christian very confusing? Do you believe the Bible or not? If the Bible is wrong about sex or marriage or anything else, why do you think it is right about anything?

    Seems to me that those who want to use religion for politics, on the left especially, and on the right, too often are creating a god in their own image to justify their imposition on people. At least the far right who say they accept the book as it is written have more integrity than claiming a book that says things they don’t believe.

  • David Gibson

    Stephen, great to hear from a fellow Paladin … And to hear Marshall Frady’s name invoked!

  • Had a brief email exchange with former FU Prez David Shi last week. He had just reread Frady’s Penguin bio of King. Great Testament. Hope you have a copy…..Will email you soon but while I’m thinking about it saw today on UVA Charles Marsh’s Facebook wall he will send soon latest draft of his bio on Bonhoeffer to Knopf. You will want to be on lookout for that one; most likely crossed your radar some time ago. Marsh has fascinating look at Bonhoeffer’s trip through Alabama in the Spring of 31, something that caught Duke Chaplain and recent North Bama UMC Bishop Willimon’s eye in his remembrance of his 7 year stay in the state, The Bishop.

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