Christian Leader Not Excited about 'President Obama'
Barack Obama's rocket fire leap from a virtual no-namer to the Democratic Party's celebrity-status presidential nominee has the nation buzzing with excitement, but a values voter leader is cautioning Americans to be careful and to take a closer look at what the candidate really offers.
"We don't know a lot about Sen. Obama's plans for America," said Vision America President the Rev. Dr. Rick Scarborough in a statement on Wednesday. "On the campaign trail, he has mostly spoken in generalities."
"What we do know is that, if elected, he would be the least experienced man to occupy the White House in at least the last 100 years. We also know that by every conceivable measure, the charismatic Senator is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal," Scarborough added.
Obama has held national office in the U.S. Senate for a little more than three years, and before that, he served in the Illinois senate from 1997 to 2004.
Scarborough read off a list of recent presidents who had "far more experience" than Obama, including Ronald Reagan who was governor of California for eight years before running for president; Bill Clinton who was a three-term governor of Arkansas; and Jimmy Carter who was an ex-Georgia governor.
"[C]ompared to any of these men when they sought the presidency, Obama is a political neophyte," according to Scarborough.
Even defeated rival Hillary Clinton has twice the Senate experience as Obama, he added.
Besides inexperience, the Christian leader also found troubling what he called Obama's "inveterate liberalism."
"The National Journal rated Sen. Obama the most liberal member of the United States Senate in 2007 – more liberal than Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy," said the pastor whose ministry seeks to encourage and mobilize pastors and congregations to restore Judeo-Christian values in their communities and the nation.
"I can't think of a single issue – foreign or domestic – where Obama deviates one iota from the left wing of his party."
But not all Christian leaders feel as adverse towards the Democratic presidential nominee as Scarborough.
Popular and influential Christian leader Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, expressed enthusiasm and support for Obama as his party's nominee.
"I congratulate Sen. Obama on this historic accomplishment," wrote Jakes, who highlighted that Obama is the first African-American to be the presidential nominee for a major U.S. political party, in a column on CNN.
But the megachurch pastor quickly added that what he really hopes people will see is that Obama's victory is not just for African Americans, but a victory for democracy and change.
"Today we saw that Americans respect experience, but are interested in change," Jakes writes. "I hope that we can somehow merge the best ideas of our differences and emerge with a president who epitomizes our highest and best ideals."
Obama has strong support from the African American Christian community, and many of its leaders have actively worked to mobilize black congregants to support him.
In December, the campaign launched a committee with top African American religious leaders who volunteered to educate voters about Obama as a candidate of faith and values. And he threw Gospel concerts to court black Christian voters in South Carolina ahead of its primary.
Besides black Christians, Obama has also reached out specifically to Hispanic evangelicals in addition to courting American Christian voters in general with his "God talk" and participation in faith forums.
Obama, as the Democratic Party's nominee, now faces Republican nominee John McCain, who although having his own troubles with values voters, has been able to smooth out rough patches by touting his unbroken pro-life record and his opposition to gay "marriage."
Correction: Thursday, June 5, 2008:
An article on Thursday, June 5, 2008, about Christian leaders' responses to Barack Obama securing the Democratic presidential nomination incorrectly reported that Obama held Gospel concerts in North Carolina. The Obama campaign had held the concerts in South Carolina.