D.G. Hart: If George Washington is a Christian, What About Obama?

I love it. D.G. Hart has entered the fray on the Glenn Beck-Peter Lillback-Sacred Fire hullabaloo that has been keeping the folks at American Creation burning the midnight oil. Hart’s post is worth reading in its entirety, but here is my favorite part:

This problem of bias becomes even trickier when you consider that Barack Obama has spoken favorably about Christianity and his own faith in ways even more Christo-centric than Washington. Recall, for instance, the current president’s words at the White House Easter prayer breakfast. (For the entire speech, go here.)

Of all the stories passed down through the gospels, this one in particular speaks to me during this season. And I think of hanging — watching Christ hang from the cross, enduring the final seconds of His passion. He summoned what remained of His strength to utter a few last words before He breathed His last breath.

“Father,” He said, “into your hands I commit my spirit.” Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior, but they can just as truly be spoken by every one of us here today. Their meaning can just as truly be lived out by all of God’s children.

So, on this day, let us commit our spirit to the pursuit of a life that is true, to act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord. And when we falter, as we will, let redemption — through commitment and through perseverance and through faith — be our abiding hope and fervent prayer.

If you were as inclined to read Washington’s generic affirmations of providence as charitably as Lillback does, wouldn’t you also be inclined to view Obama as an evangelical Christian? Well, the reply might be, “Obama tolerated Jeremiah Wright and so that indicates the flaws in his devotion.” But Washington’s associations were not always so clean or holy. As the folks over at American Creation have explored, Washington made favorable comments about the Universalists. One could also point out that Washington was a Freemason. So it’s not as if Washington’s faith is squeaky clean compared to Obama’s.

I hope that Glenn Beck keeps talking about the Founding Fathers and the blogosphere keeps on buzzing about it. My book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Primer for Christians is due out on February 16, 2011 with Westminster/John Knox Press. I just turned in the manuscript a few weeks ago. If this continues it just might sell a few copies!