Obama Prays Behind Closed Doors

Steve Strang knew the ground rules for the recent meeting between Sen. Barack Obama and a flock of evangelical, Catholic and liberal Protestant leaders.

The invitation to the Chicago gathering stated: “This is an off-the-record (no media) time for questioning and listening, with no expectation of endorsement.”

But it’s one thing to keep Obama’s answers off the record. As soon as the two-hour meeting was over, some participants began talking and writing about the questions they had asked.

“I was concerned after three or four general questions that we wouldn’t ask the most important questions,” wrote Strang, the founder of Charisma Magazine. “So I raised my hand. … I said, ‘Senator, I want to ask a question I’m sure you are expecting regarding your position on abortion. I represent a segment of the church where nearly everyone considers the issue of supporting life to be the most important issue and where nearly everyone would be opposed to abortion. I want to ask what your stand on abortion is and if you believe what I think you believe, how you justify that with your Christian faith.”

Strang said Obama offered a surprisingly “centrist,” 15-minute answer. Since the evangelical entrepreneur had read the Obama’s “Audacity of Hope”memoir, he recognized that the response came from its “Faith” chapter.

Thus, it’s likely that the presumptive Democratic nominee retold the story of the University of Chicago doctor who gently challenged a statement on a U.S. Senate campaign website pledging that Obama would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.” The doctor’s email said he wasn’t asking Obama to oppose abortion, but to begin addressing “this issue in fair-minded words.”

Obama told his staff to drop the offensive language, in recognition of the fact that many abortion opponents want sincere, sober discussions instead of more shouting. About that time, a member of a polite, pro-life family protesting outside an Obama rally called out: “I will pray for you. I will pray that you have a change of heart.”

Thus, Obama wrote: “Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, not did they in the days to come. But I did have that family in mind as I wrote back to the doctor and thanked him for his email. … I said a prayer of my own — that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.”

After the Chicago meeting, online reports by Strang and others said the leaders discussed a wide variety of issues, from the Iraq war to same-sex marriage, from genocide in Darfur to religious liberty issues here at home. A spokesman for the Rev. Franklin Graham said that the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association asked if Obama “thought Jesus was the way to God, or merely a way” — but did not report the response. There were conflicting reports about whether Graham and Obama exchanged a hug or a handshake.

But abortion remains a high hurdle in an era when several U.S. Supreme Court justices are near retirement.

Is change possible? In “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama noted that many opponents of abortion are willing to “bend principle” in cases of rape and incest. Meanwhile, the willingness of “even the most ardent” of pro-abortion-rights advocates to “accept some restrictions on late-term abortion marks a recognition that a fetus is more than a body part.”

The key, stressed Strang, was that the Chicago meeting even took place, allowing frank discussion of such bitterly divisive issues.

Rather than merely talking to the religious left, Obama’s staff offered him a chance to talk and pray with a variety of evangelical and Pentecostal leaders — such as author Max Lucado of San Antonio, Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas and many others.

“Obama seemed to have the support of at least half of the 43 leaders who attended the Chicago meeting,” noted Strang. “In my opinion, he ‘made points’ with the rest.”

David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network was even more blunt about the meeting’s political implications.

“Folks, this is an important development,” he said. “It shows that the game has changed. Old rules don’t apply. We’re in uncharted territory.

John McCain’s religious outreach team has to now step to the plate and work hard for faith voters.”

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  • dennisofraleigh

    Obama isn’t stupid. He’s his own Karl Rove. He knows what buttons to push, when to nuance a position, how to play the crowd. He very much wants to be seen as politically middle-of-the-road. Excuse me, have any of these religious leaders bothered to look at his voting record? Something to the left of Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, esp. on the issues of abortion and “gay rights.”

    No need to ask Obama about his position on abortion. Visit his official campaign website and read “Obama Statement on 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision” from January 22, 2008, and “Fact Check: Obama’s Strong Pro-Choice Record” also found on the website. It’s a series of endorsements from “abortion-rights” organizations and activists.
    He’s already told audiences that one of the first things he intends to do if elected President is “sign the Freedom of Choice Act” into law.
    I see he’s also been making noises recently about proposing legislation to
    “reduce abortions” in the U.S. Know what his idea of “reduce” is? Obama, in that same January *Roe* statement said he “believe[s] in and h[as] supported common-sense solutions like increasing access to affordable birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies.” Common sense, huh? How does he think we got into this mess in the first place? There’s certainly nothing “common sense” about abortion, or birth control.

    Want to know Obama’s true views on the future of the traditional family? I’m sure a lot of the pastors at that meeting had concerns in that area. Take a look at his responses to questions from the editor of the pro-homosexual *Advocate* newspaper from April 10, 2008. Just to get a whiff of what he has in mind, I quote him: “…and I incluce gay constituencies as people that should be treated with full honor and respect as part of the American family.” And no, he’s not merely talking about fighting discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. His ultimate goal is far more sinister. In the same interview he said he as been “for a very long time…interested in the repeal of DOMA.” That’s the Defense of Marriage Act boys and girls.
    And finally, how about this gem: “…I think the LGBT community has every right to push for what it thinks is right. And I think its absolutely fair to ask me for leadership, and my arguement would be that I’m ahead of the curve on these issues compared to 99% of most elected officials around the country on this issue.” Meaning he won’t be satisfied until “gay marriage” is given the same status and legality in all 50 states that traditional marriage has enjoyed.

    John Mccain’s people aren’t the only ones that need to step to the plate. Catholic leadership needs to reiterate in no uncertain terms the unacceptability of supporting a candidate whose goal is the contracepting of every school-age girl in America and abortion-on-demand like you’ve never seen in this country.
    Problem is, how well will Catholics listen and heed?

  • sillyfuzz

    Absolutely! I don’t see how one can ignore Obama’s voting record history. He is as anti-family as you can get. I am no McCain fan, but Obama makes McCain look like a saint. Of course, the media will paint Obama as the second coming.

  • JoeLukowski

    Today, Mr. Obama has said that he is infavor of the death sentence for those accused of rape innocents. This man scares me. He wants to kill the innocent unborn and he wants to kill those accused of violating children. Isnt abortion the greatest violation one can do to a child ? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • Grace Harman

    Ignorance of voters is overwhelming on where he stands on the issue of abortion and Catholics are also ignorant of the real teachings of their Faith on it as well. (I’ve known quite a number of Catholics who have had abortions.) Some people let their party determine their stand on issues, rather than inquiring about what the Church teaches, and others let the current media determine their beliefs, and then there are those who just assume this person is “good” because he’s such a good speaker. The whole situation is terrifying. History and God’s rules show that for society to go on we need to protect all life and have strong traditional families. The Church must work to enlighten its people. Wake up America!

  • Bruce Roeder

    The fact that Catholics commit sin is, unfortunately, nothing new. It is, in fact, the very reason why we will always need the Church.

    From this article, though, it appears that BO can stand firm in his well-documented 100% support of the intrinsic evil of abortion and, as long as his rhetoric is calm and civil, he is considered to have “scored points” with religious leadership in the USA, even to have changed the very rules of “the game.”

    Is that about right? Has it come down to that?

  • dennisofraleigh

    Bruce, sad to say, but we’re in the age of “celeb” and “spin.” Combine that with a dangerous degree of moral relativism among the American voting public (anybody see the unsettling numbers in the recent Pew opinion poll results? http://religions.pewforum.org/ ) and this country is going to face a social disaster on a scale we can’t even imagine. I shudder at the prospect of the repeal of DOMA and the institutionalization of “gay marriage.” Will we (lay and clergy) be able to anymore teach our children the evil of the “gay” lifestyle without the threat of imprisonment for “hate speech?” And the distorted teaching about the traditional family (even now showing up in public elementary school textbooks all over the country) is a sure recipe for social self-destruction.
    Abraham Lincoln must have been gazing into a crystal ball when he said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

  • sillyfuzz

    Just look an Canada and its Human Rights Commission as an example to what happens when “gay” is protected unconditionally. Here are just two examples of their monkey business.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08042512.html

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08042809.html

    To note — the accuser pay $0, while the person accused has to pay all his legal fees, court fees and fines regardless if guilty or not.

  • pazetbonum

    This looks like a great strategy by Mr. Obama.

    1) Meet with a group of Christian leaders behind closed doors and don’t allow them to publicize his answers to their questions. The mere fact that he even had the meeting causes tremors:
    * “The key, stressed Strang, was that the Chicago meeting even took place…”
    * “Folks, this is an important development,” he said. “It shows that the game has changed. Old rules don’t apply. We’re in uncharted territory.”

    2) Spread the word that the meeting took place and emphasize the positive outcomes, including support from Christian leaders and the view of Mr. Obama as a “centrist”:
    * “Obama seemed to have the support of at least half of the 43 leaders who attended the Chicago meeting,” noted Strang. “In my opinion, he ‘made points’ with the rest.”
    * “Strang said Obama offered a surprisingly “centrist,” 15-minute answer.”

    3) Which of course leads to the natural contrast of Mr. Obama with Mr. McCain and the question of who the real “faith candidate” is:
    * “John McCain’s religious outreach team has to now step to the plate and work hard for faith voters.”

    4) All the while gain valuable insight on how to answer the “tough” Presidential debate questions to the satisfaction of those faith voters.

    Kevin

  • mrteachersir

    Smoke and mirrors. That’s all it is. On the one hand, he has a insidiously large speech record of 1) promising to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, 2) claiming that high gas prices are needed to bring about greater government control and re-distribution of wealth, 3) promising to support gay marriage, and 4) saying children are a mistake or punishment. The number and obscurity of his off-hand comments makes it nearly impossible to get a real picture of what he is about. That is the smoke. Then he meets with “religious leaders”, off-the-record, to show that he is in touch with teh faith voter. That is the mirror.

    We are hampered in two ways: the media is on his side, and the general populace has been taught not to investigate candidates claims. As a teacher, I can attest to the dumbing down of America youth. Children have not been taught how to really investigate something. Nor have they been taught the logic of comparing how a person speaks to how they act. They are taught to attach allegience to people, without evaluating if they are worthy of allegience.

    C.S. Lewis touched on this in his addendum to the Screwtape Letters. It is chilling that the predictions Lewis made in the 1960s are coming true. State schools, working to eliminate the competition of private and faith-based schools, are dumbing kids down to the same level…much like the USSR made all citizens of Russia poor.

  • kc

    I’d like to believe that Catholics and other Christians (not to mention any non-believing but well-intentioned voter) is simply ignorant of Obama’s voting record and beliefs.

    I don’t think ignorance is the reason for his popularity. I think it is, simply, the three-fold fact of a contraceptive mentality, sin darkening the intellect, and self-will (rebellion against God) whether you are well-meaning or not. It is not possible to build a logical position against abortion and sodomy if you have accepted the moral legitimacy of contra-ception. And most of the world, Christian as well, has fallen to this great deception.

    Even if you aren’t smart, and don’t have time to study the Church’s teaching on contraception, we Catholics could at least have been saved from the consequences of the contraceptive mentality by our obedience. So… if teaching of the Church was hard to understand, took too much time to research, didn’t make sense, etc. Fine. But most the US Catholics have long since became their own pope and rejected the teaching authority of Jesus’ Church every bit as much as Protestism already has. We have been, as a whole, lousy witnesses when we could have helped Jesus save many souls from much sorrow and destruction, not to mention the lives of the unborn.

    So… Obama, I am extraordinarily sorry to say, is the leader we deserve. Anyone else who comes along will be preaching something that by and large, a contracepting culture doesn’t want to hear… this particular sin leads to a darkened intellect and a mindset that WANTS Obama’s views, even if they are a little uncomfortable when confronted with the stark reality of abortion, and even if they don’t fully realize they want his whole message. It resounds with them on an at least an unconscious level. And if we humans are expert at anything, it’s justifying and avoiding things we don’t want to deal with (see: Old Testament prophets.)

    So, we’ll comfort ourselves with “I’m personally opposed to abortion,” claptrap but vote for Obama anyway.

    Then we’ll no doubt end up like Israel did many times in the OT.

    Jesus, save us from ourselves.

  • Cooky642

    Thanks, KC, for one of the best well-reasoned statements I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, I believe you are correct in your assessment that Mr. Obama is “the leader we deserve” and that “by and large, the culture WANTS Obama’s views”. I’ve been praying for 3 1/2 years that God would give us the leader we NEED, not the one we DESERVE; I’m very close to losing hope.

  • Bruce Roeder

    One dynamic which may play out is that Sen. Obama gets overexposed and Sen. McCain, since he is not really campaigning yet (to save money), will get to introduce himself to some people at the Republican convention and, in contrast to BO who has been running non-stop for eighteen months, seem like the fresh face (even though he’s been in DC for like thirty years).

    Having a voting populace with the attention span of a bird dog may work both ways. (no offense intended — to the bird dog)

  • jdwhite

    Why does Obama need an off-the-record forum to render a “surprisingly ‘centrist,’ 15-minute answer”? Who is he hiding from and why? And where is Obama’s “Christian justification” (as if there is one) for abortion? For birth control? Gay marriage?

    This story of Strang’s encounter with Obama over the central issue of Christianity (the sanctity of life) demonstrates yet again how so many who should know better can’t clean the Obama kool-aid mustaches off their lips.

    “(S)incere, sober discussions” about the slaughter of the innocent does not justify nor mute this or any sin that cries to Heaven. How does “sincere, sober discussions” prevent even one abortion?

    All this article tells me is that Obama a) wishes for a “civil discussion” of differences between and among those who differ on any issue of difference, b) a civil discussion itself is, well . . . progress(?) and c) you can talk nice all you want, but there’s gonna be a new sheriff in town so you jus’ better get ready for some changin’ . . . what ever that means . . . ya, hear?

    Defending life, the sanctity of life and the creation of life takes action and not “just words”.

  • nativity

    DECREE ON ECUMENISM
    UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO

    INTRODUCTION

    1. The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.(1) Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.

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