Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A West Virginian on Obama

Obama InaugurationI have tried to stay neutral in the political race, mainly by keeping my political opinions relatively quiet. I pastor a wonderful church made up of both Democrats and Republicans, fine people who sincerely embrace Christ and his Word. My own political affiliation is independent. In West Virginia, that means that I am registered without a party affiliation. My allegiences are higher than either party for the sake of my congregation.

I am discouraged, however, to see some of my fellow WVians falling for the most elementary political fallacies. Several months ago, West Virginia made national news through "man on the street" interviews that made us look very bad. No doubt, the media picked the interviews that portrayed us in the poorest light. Here is an example of those sorts of interviews.

Today, I ran into one of those folks and heard it with my own ears, and I was amazed. She was not a member of my congregation. The topic of conversation was today's inauguration. Quickly, she asserted that Obama was a Muslim. I could not resist correcting her. "No he is not," I said. "He has publicly stated over and again that he believes himself to be a Christian." We have no valid reason to suspect that he is a Muslim, even if that mattered as a qualification for POTUS. Though I suspect his definition of "Christian" and mine are quite different, I run into supposed "Christians" every day whose definitions are very different from mine.

She continued "But he looks like a Muslim." I responded, "What does that mean? There are millions of blacks all across America. Does being black make one a Muslim?" I stopped short of telling her that such a statement was blatently racist. She finished with the assertion that "he does not salute the flag." Once again, I responded, "One picture has accidently captured Obama before he had a chance to salute during the pledge of allegience. Such an argument cannot be made from a single picture." The fact that she so quickly moved from one desparate reason to reject Obama to the next was revealing.

I think many are looking for excuses to not embrace Obama for reasons that hearken back to a darker time in our nation's history. This is shameful. West Virginia has once again demonstrated that many of us are behind the curve. There may be many legitimate reasons to prefer that someone else be president, but please, oh, please! Fellow West Virginians! Let them be good, accurate, well-reasoned, and unprejudiced!


  1. Dennis,

    While I agree with you that there are people who reject Obama for the wrong reasons (just as there are people who wrongly rejected Bush just because he claimed to be a "born again" Christian), your answer that you shared with this lady regarding Obama not saluting the flag is incorrect. The assertions about Obama not saluting the flag was not the result of "One picture has accidently captured Obama before he had a chance to salute during the pledge of allegience. Such an argument cannot be made from a single picture."

    You definitely cannot make an argument that Obama never salutes the flag from one incident, but it was not just a picture that captured Obama before he had a chance to salute. The reality is that in a meeting of Democratic candidates in Iowa, he stood there with his hands at his side during the playing of the National Anthem. This was not just a "gotcha" photo that caught him before he saluted, he clearly did not salute the whole time. (The video shows Clinton and other candidates holding their hands over their hearts during this time.)

    (For what it's worth, I seem to remember when I was younger that standing respectfully at attention was the expected response to the National Anthem and that you only covered your heart if you were wearing a hat - in which case, you were to take of the hat and hold it over your heart.)

  2. I am quite sure that my point still stands: Plenty of pictures and videos of Obama with hand over heart during anthem and pledge exist on the web. The fact is that the one picture or video cannot be used as evidence that Obama was making any sort of unpatriotic statement by not covering his heart on that one occasion. The argument that Obama does not salute the flag is false.