OPEN UNIVERSITY DECEMBER 4, 2006
by Michael KazinBefore you get too critical of Barack Obama's generous, eloquent, sincere use of his Christian beliefs (and of Cass's praise for his speech at Rick Warren's church), consider the alternatives on offer. On the one hand, we have the intolerant messianism of President Bush and most conservative Christians; on the other, we have the awkward defensiveness of white liberals who quote the same lines from Amos and the Sermon the Mount in every speech to prove they really, really know their Scripture.
Successful presidential candidates have seldom kept their faith to themselves; since the Second Great Awakening early in the 19th century, the zeal of American Protestants has been intimately joined with democratic politics. The odds on a secular humanist winning the Democratic nomination, much less the presidency, are longer than the chance that the Washington Nationals will win the World Series. So the nation would be quite fortunate, even blessed, to elect Barack Obama--who really does believe he's called upon to be his brother's and sister's keeper.