Does Barack Obama believe in God? Does he, in fact, have a single religious bone in his body? Steve Sailer, in his terrific new book about the President-elect, is dubious:
Obama believes, more or less, in nothing. He is, asserts [British essayist Jonathan] Raban, a “scrupulous agnostic.” Myself, I have no idea what Obama truly believes about the faith he publicly professes, but certainly there is little in Dreams to suggest that Raban is wrong. Indeed, while Obama’s supposed conversion at Trinity, which the book suggests took place in February 1988, is dramatically described on pp. 291-295 of Dreams, I can’t find any Christian references coming up again in the last 147 pages of his autobiography … Overall, the only reference in Dreams I could find to Obama sincerely engaging in anything like prayer is his fondling his memories of old PBS Black History Month documentaries about the Civil Rights era: “Such images became a form of prayer for me, bolstering my spirits, channeling my emotions in a way words never could.”
Steve, who has read everything Obama ever wrote or said, thinks that: “Obama’s celebrated acceptance of Christianity turns out to have been an affirmation of African-American psychic separatism.”
Personally I’m fine with the “ceremonial deism” that is expected of our presidents; and that aside, would be happier with an irreligious president than a religious one, other things being equal (which, to be sure, they rarely are). I don’t actually think presidential metaphysics matters much. Still I can’t help but wonder about this guy’s character. All those years attending church?
I recall an interview with George H.W. Bush prior to the 1988 election, where the interviewer asked him if he considered himself born again. Certainly, said Poppy. But Poppy, bless him, was a terrible liar. You could practically see the thought scrolling across his forehead: Holy cow, the things I have to say to get elected! Be interesting to see Obama respond to some similar question.