In March a dramatic, first-time meeting will take place between the two most visible and powerful men in the world. Both leaders influence hundreds of millions-maybe billions-of individuals on the planet.
Although it will be a carefully planned and private time in the Vatican, let's indulge ourselves in an imaginative dialogue wherein Pope Francis follows our "Here's the Deal" approach and respectfully petitions President Obama on seven issues. Lean in and look carefully at an imaginary document the pope might prepare for his interaction with our president.
Explain that our current civilizational decline and escalating global conflicts underscore the urgency of the hour and necessity of honest dialogue. We must not be content with mere pleasantries and superficial discussion.
Acquaint Obama with the iconic saint from whom I took my name, Francis of Assisi. He was born in 1181 and died at the age of 45 having founded an order of humble servants at the age of 28. Like Obama, in his early days he gave himself to parties and carnal pleasures. He chose not to be intimidated but rather faithfully proclaim the truth of God's Word no matter what the cost. Today he is recognized as the most influential saint in post-apostolic times. I want to follow his example.
After his conversion experience, St. Francis passed by an old and collapsing church. Inspired by the Spirit, he went in and knelt to pray before the image of the crucified Jesus. Tears welled up as he gasped hearing an audible voice tell him three times, "Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see is falling into ruin."
Convey to President Obama that I see my mission similar to my namesake. Francis needed bold actions and great courage to speak up to authorities of his day. Petitioning Pope Innocent III and Catholic hierarchy to recapture simplicity amidst the opulence of the Vatican, he approached the pope attired in a poor, ragged tunic.
"Go find your pigs and preach to them!" was the papal rebuff.
When he did just that and returned from a pigsty smeared in slop, the pope was impressed and in time gave credence to the message this man was carrying. It started when he chose to courageously yet charitably communicate the truth. This is how I want to conduct myself today.
1. Religious Freedom. I am concerned when I hear you and some of your administration substituting "freedom of worship" for "freedom of religion." In other words, you can enjoy your religious expression in the confines of a church building or synagogue but you are not to allow your religious convictions to influence your actions outside.
You yourself once said, "Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square." Yet patriotic Christians in America are deeply concerned about the erosion of their religious liberties by you imposing unscriptural mandates upon people of faith. This is clearly a violation of individual conscience and freedom of religion as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
With Obamacare, almost 50 religious groups are banding together to rightly protest being forced to provide life-ending abortifacients and contraceptives to those they employ and serve. The Hobby Lobby corporation, built on Christian principles, and our own Little Sisters of the Poor, who for over 146 years have dedicated themselves to serve the poor in America, are having to go all the way to the Supreme Court to stop this mandatory forcing of them to disobey faith and conscience. This must stop!
2. Sanctity of Human Life. God commands us to "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves" (Prov. 31:8, NIV). It is impossible to be a true Christian and not be a supporter and defender of human life. This encompasses all areas from conception until natural death. It was your role model, Abraham Lincoln, who said decisively, "If slavery isn't wrong, nothing is wrong!" Likewise, abortion is an equal, if not greater injustice. The Lord hates "hands that shed innocent blood" (Prov. 6:17).
In my "State of the World" address I said emphatically that abortion is "horrific" and that "children are the victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day." When tens of thousands of dedicated pro-life individuals marched near your White House in the recent "March for Life," I proudly communicated to them, "May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."
President Obama, you have always been a strong supporter of abortion throughout your political career. I'm calling upon you to repent and to protect unborn little babies and stop the genocide that has claimed over 55 million unborn baby's lives in your nation. This is not "above your pay grade" but your moral responsibility as "one that will give an account."
3. Gay Marriage. You proclaim yourself to be a professing Christian. The One to whom we owe allegiance, Jesus Christ, stated clearly that "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Matt 19:5, NKJV). Gay marriage violates the clear and unambiguous moral teachings of the sacred Scriptures that serve as the basis for our Judeo Christian values and your laws and foundations as a nation.
Gay marriage is also contradictory to the self evident truth of "Nature's God" (as your Founding Fathers expressed it); it is contrary to the explicit teaching of every major world religion that upholds the integrity of marriage and family; and, it undermines the institution of marriage between a man and a woman that has been the cornerstone of civilization in custom and law for more than 5,000 years of human history.
I appeal to you in the strongest manner possible as the pope of the
Catholic Church and a representative of Jesus Christ on this earth, not to support a redefinition of the sacred institution of marriage exclusively between a man and a woman. You had this position and communicated it clearly until you said you "evolved" in 2012. I beseech you to return to biblical roots.
4. Homosexuality. President Obama, we must go to the Bible as our authoritative guide on all matters of faith and morality and not opinion polls. With charity and clarity we must be faithful to what the Scriptures teach. Regarding homosexuality, the Bible consistently, unambiguously, without exception prohibits homosexual practice and commands us to honor God's design for sexual behavior between men and women.
Time magazine honored me with the title "Person of the Year" in 2013. While some have tried to obscure and distort what I have articulated on the issue of homosexuality, let me reiterate it for you. We must always remain compassionate and understanding of individuals sexual challenges but remain faithful to what Scripture instructs on human sexuality as I expressed it previously. This is doctrine of the Bible and the Catholic Church and it does not change! I have gone on record repeatedly expressing this as well as stating that gay marriage is a "scheme to destroy God's plan."
Now I am asking you to change your position and align with orthodox Christianity for 2,000 years of history.
5. Truth-Telling. As Christians, we must have an unwavering commitment to integrity. Shading the truth-little white lies, speaking out of both sides of our mouths, doing what is politically convenient or expedient-have no place in the life of a political leader who professes to be a non-hypocritical, obedient follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today I want to call you to a fresh consecration to be a truth-telling leader on the world stage. The manner in which you conducted yourself in pushing through your signature issue of Obamacare is just one example of your deceptiveness that greatly concerns me.
This "Affordable Care Act" was passed by you leading the way by not telling the truth! You repeatedly and emphatically told millions of Americans that if they wanted to keep their plans and doctors they could. When it turned out that this was fraudulent, people rightly felt lied to and manipulated by your dishonesty.
My son, repent of what you have done publicly and recommit yourself to being a man of integrity. Proverbs tells us, "He who walks with integrity walks securely. But he who perverts his ways will become known" (10:9).
6. Legalizing Marijuana. Recently, all across the globe, headlines screamed out words like this, "Alcohol is worse than pot says President Barack Obama!" Parents with children were for the most part aghast that you would speak something so irresponsible and almost make it sound like it's not a big deal. When you state that you smoked pot in your younger years and that it's not very different from cigarettes, the floodgates are further opened to add yet another mind-altering drug into our societies.
President Obama, your own White House drug experts contradict your statements! The official positions and research from the Office of National Drug and Control Policy make it clear that marijuana has significantly more carcinogens than tobacco and that adolescent use of marijuana causes permanent brain damage including lowering of IQ.
The official website of the White House states the following: "The administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, especially young people."
The Bible tells us that our bodies are "the temple of the Holy Spirit" and we are to "glorify God in" our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Marijuana is an illegal drug that is addictive and harmful! THC, the active component in marijuana plants, is recognized by scientists to be eight times as potent as the "weed "of decades ago.
I appeal to you as the president of the United States and recognized leader of the free world, not to be legitimizing this drug for consumption in our day.
7. Your Spiritual Condition. This last point is probably the most sensitive of all the seven but one as a pastoral leader I feel obligated to raise.
Jesus told us to "Judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24) and that "Every good tree bears good fruit but a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matt. 7:17). While I want to honor you and your position as president of United States, I may never have the opportunity to broach this most important subject with you again. I submit to you that multitudes are seeing lots of "bad fruit "coming from a tree most likely in need of real repentance and redemption.
Barack Obama, examining your beliefs, policies, social leanings and character lead us to the reasonable conclusion that we question the authenticity of your Christianity. So much is inconsistent with living out the biblical worldview that is to characterize an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.
Mr. President, have you ever truly been "born again" as Jesus said each individual must? Have you ever genuinely humbled yourself and repented of your sins, put your trust fully in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and your Lord and Savior, thereby committing yourself to obey His Word in every area of life?
Jesus said, "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord' and not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46, NIV).
Mr. President, if what I have communicated resonates with you, I suggest you give a call to the Rev. Billy Graham and let him pray with you, as he has other presidents for decades. What a phenomenal gift it would be to this man who just celebrated his 95th birthday and has spent his lifetime introducing people to an authentic relationship with God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Suggested Conclusion. Clasp the hand of the president. Thank him for coming and being a respectful listener. Pray with him for insight, protection and blessing. Pray for his wife and daughters. Commit him to the Lord. Possibly share "The Prayer of Saint Francis" before he leaves the Vatican.