We’ve seen mixing of politics and religion lately, and it has become apparent that some people are confused.
Many on the zany American right wing have become lathered up by juxtaposing two of President Obama’s statements, both accurate, if, in one case, too casually phrased.
These right-wingers professed to believe that Obama denounced Jesus on the one hand and turned Americans into Muslims on the other.
What Obama first did was say some weeks ago that America is not a Christian nation. This upset some people who assumed America was.
It isn’t. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be.
America is a free-religion nation. That means we are not a country that practices any state religion. Quite to the absolute contrary, we are a country that, by expressed constitutional declaration penned by our wise and beloved forefathers, protects all citizens from the state imposition of any religion.
This is merely the best thing about America. It saves us from getting government all wrapped up in religious faith, a predicament that has led elsewhere, throughout history and to this day, to some of the more egregious displays of inhumanity in the history of what is loosely referred to as civilization.
When you hold the power of the state — to tax, to fine, to educate, to prosecute, to imprison, to kill — it is best that one exercise that power without asserting any special moral authority presumably dictated straight from God.
Then Obama went to Cairo and tried to show the world that there is at least one American who understands that his country ought to be more sensitive to, and tolerant of, different cultures. To stand up for his often misunderstood country, Obama explained that, if you added up all the people in America freely practicing the Muslim religion, the United States would be one of the biggest “Muslim countries” in the world.
Uh, oh. The zany right-wingers declared that Obama had obliterated us as a Christian nation and established us as a Muslim one. Just as they’d feared.
But he’d only spoken too imprecisely, as anyone of an open and fair mind could readily see. He merely meant that our nation had one of the largest numbers of persons in it practicing the Muslim religion.
So you’re thinking that I’m attacking straw men — that only certain unsophisticates had misunderstood or misrepresented these comments.
Let me refer you, then, to a real identified person, a prominently zany right-winger, who seems to believe he should be our next president.
Mike Huckabee told a church audience the other day that he was disturbed to hear Obama say during his speech in Cairo that one nation shouldn’t be exalted over another.
“The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense,” Huckabee said. The United States is a “blessed” nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries’ defeat of the British empire “a miracle from God’s hand.”
Actually, most of America’s revolutionary founders were deists who, while believing in a God, disdained any notion that this God took an active role, much less a partisan one, in the frailties of human conduct such as violent combat.
What kind of God would this be, anyway, if he picked out a little minority pocket of his creation happening to inhabit the United States and blessed it above others and delivered it victory in murderous wars? If God did that kind of thing, why didn’t he help us out a little more in Vietnam or our horrible civil war?
Huckabee also said it was prayer that beat the gay marriage amendment in California. So why didn’t Huckabee pray as hard for New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa? Or, if he prayed as hard, why did God answer differently? What are these — unblessed islands in a blessed sea?
John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of “High Wire,” a book about Bill Clinton’s first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.