Action Alert!

It's about power

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 19, 2009

"In terms of religious outreach, [the Obama White House] will be as inclusive as anything you've ever seen," one observer tells the Washington Post, in the course of an article on the president-elect's religious background. Inclusiveness is not just a policy for Obama; it's a biographical reality:

Obama grew up the son of an atheist, spent two formative years in a predominantly Muslim school, worked out of an office in a Catholic rectory, accepted Jesus at a traditionally black church and married the cousin of a Chicago area rabbi.

Still, the Post article mentions Obama's ties to Protestants of several sorts, to Jews and to Muslims. One religious group is missing from the analysis, and it's the single largest religious bloc in the US. The only Catholic mentioned in the Post piece is Graham Greene, who is a) a novelist rather than a cleric or theologian, b) an Englishman rather than an American, and c) dead. A pattern is developing here. Recall that no Catholic priest has been asked to participate in the inaugural ceremonies.

Is Obama consciously excluding Catholics? I doubt it. Far more likely, when he thinks of religion he doesn't think of Catholics because our understanding of faith is so different from his. Catholics think of religious faith in terms of the sacraments and the life of grace. Obama thinks of faith in terms of politics. Don't take my word for it; see what his own friends say, as cited by the very sympathetic Post.

For the president-elect, religion has always been less about theology than the power God inspires in communities that worship Him, friends and advisers said.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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