President Obama today suggested his political agenda is blessed by the world’s great religions, linking a variety of specific policy proposals to the teachings of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
In a remarkable flouting of the traditional barrier between church and state, Obama used the annual National Prayer Breakfast to assert that his proposals are not just based on economic benefit, but on guidance he receives from the Bible.
George W. Bush was repeatedly knocked by liberals and members of the press who believed he thought his presidency was guided by the hand of God.
Obama today affirmed that his tax policy, which he frames as a call to “shared responsibility” that would increase the tax burden on the rich, is prescribed by Jesus Christ.
And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.
Obama said the financial reform law, as well as Obamacare provisions barring insurers from rejecting those with preexisting conditions, stem from the Divine call to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Spending programs that support increased college enrollment, retraining of unemployed workers, and medical research are examples of Obama fulfilling the admonition that “I am my brother’s keeper.”
Even foreign aid is justified by “the biblical call to care for the least of these,” Obama said.
The president’s linkage of his policies to the bible comes as he ramps up his own religious profile, an effort certain to appeal to voters stretching across a variety of demographics.