Will America Ever Have an Atheist President? @SolasCpc Calls it Atheist Intolerance to Ask

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!


4 thoughts on “Will America Ever Have an Atheist President? @SolasCpc Calls it Atheist Intolerance to Ask

  1. Hi – Please note that I did not say that even to ask the question was atheist intolerance. The article is. And your understanding of it as irony only reinforces the European view that Americans don’t do irony! The article itself is bitter, sarcastic and superior. Just read the whole thing – but there is no way that the following example is ‘irony’

    “Now we discover that Obama’s faith is also more than a mere source of personal succour. It informs his political decision-making. He makes clear his belief that “our values, our love and our charity must find expression not just in our families, not just in our places of work and our places of worship, but also in our government and in our politics”. In case you missed that, the president of the US is implying that he thinks his Christian faith can legitimately shape the way he governs the nation.

    It gets worse.”

  2. David: Thank you for your comment. First, I take your point that you didn’t say that it was intolerant to ask. It was a title to a post and I apologise for misleading.

    I admitted in the post that the author is perhaps having to begrudgingly accept Obama has a faith and that whether he likes it or not. I believe that he was writing the piece to say that others may sound like George W. Bush may come to different conclusions that connect to secular understandings of politics. Even some other commenters on the article believed he was being ironic.

    Finally, after your comment I did what I should have done before posting – I googled Jonathan Chaplin. He is the Director of Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics. Read his bio at their website, and I can hardly believe he is an atheist.

    Perhaps this will help curb your view about Americans and irony.

  3. David, thank you for coming back to the blog. Again, sorry for the misleading title post. As for irony, as Baldrick says, ‘It’s like goldy and bronzy, only it’s made of iron.’

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