In its Twitter feed, the Centre for Public Christianity (CPC, affiliated with Ravi Zacharias) posted a link from the Guardian that asks ‘Will there ever be a US president who doesn’t do God?’ It’s a play on the quote from a Number 10 spokesperson when Tony Blair was prime minister when asking about Tony Blair’s faith. The spokesperson said, ‘Downing Street doesn’t do God,’ meaning that unlike the coverage that US president George Bush’s faith was getting, that would not be a topic over here.
CPC seems to believe that this article is more evidence of Britain’s growing atheist culture of intolerance (@SolasCpc: Atheist intolerance strikes again!Will there ever be a US president who doesn’t do God? | Jonathan Chaplin). I don’t read it that way. I don’t know the religious beliefs of Jonathan Chaplin (the author of the Guardian article), but regardless he seems to be speaking ironically. He says secular Europe thought they were through with the religious ramblings of Republican George W. Bush and God telling him to invade Iraq when the US voted for the socialist Obama. So, when they thought they were through with all that, Obama gives a speech at a prayer breakfast talking about his faith in Jesus as Saviour and how he believes God influences him in his governing. Speaking for the secular Europeans, Chaplin seems to be saying ‘How could he deceive us?’
But, I find him truly praising Obama trying to live out a faith that seeks to serve a God of justice and the God of the marginalised. Chaplin writes,
Suppose he was even driven to the crazy conclusion that, “until that day, we’re called to work on behalf of a God that chose justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable”. Might that actually lead him to seek to use the law to guarantee healthcare for every individual citizen, coercing even secular healthcare providers and insurance companies to fall in line with his irrational biblical utopianism? Or to increase social welfare spending by raising taxes on the corporations on whose profits the economic growth of the whole country depends? What could be a more blatant example of “imposing religion” on a secular society?
I found the article amusing and in reality praising Obama and (begrudgingly? Again, I don’t know Chaplin’s beliefs) religious faith. If I am wrong (about the article or CPC’s conclusions), please tell me!