President Obama used his speech at Thursday's annual National Prayer Breakfast to explain how his faith influences his policies. "When I talk about shared responsibility," he said, it's because I really believe asking people like myself who have "been extraordinarily blessed" to give up some tax breaks is good economic policy. "But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus' teaching that, 'To whom much is given, much shall be required.'" Is Obama saying, as Politico puts it, that "Jesus would tax the rich"? And, well, would He?
Jesus wasn't a socialist: Maybe Obama would understand scripture if he "visited church more often," instead of "only during campaign seasons," says Breeanne Howe at Red State. "Jesus very much emphasized the importance of giving to the poor," but out of joy over what we've been given, not out of an obligation to pay taxes. In fact, the Bible "teaches that everything we have, including money, belongs to God." Ultimately, a few "Bible quotes... fail to give credibility to Obama's socialist leanings."
"Give me your money in the name of Jesus"
Obama wasn't speaking for Jesus: "I personally have little doubt that if Jesus of Nazareth had been in charge of determining how much various people were rendering unto Caesar," he'd redistribute the wealth, says Ed Kilgore in Washington Monthly. But that wasn't Obama's point. Far from claiming "Jesus as co-author of his policies," he went out of his way to say the opposite: "Our goal," the president declared, "should not be to declare our policies as Biblical." I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Christian Right is "projecting their own usurpation of religion onto the president."
It's good to hear a Democrat reference religion so well: I think Obama's speech "deserves study as an instance of turning religious themes and imagery to the service of his larger policy message," says James Fallows in The Atlantic. Republicans are so good at this "we take it for granted." The reason Obama's prayer is getting such notice is that "it is interesting to see it done, and deftly, by a Democrat."
"World is getting better, GBA dept."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
Subscribe to the Week