Barack Obama says 'Christian leaders too eager to exploit what divides us'

Anthony Cuesta | June 25, 2007

Barack Obama
HARTFORD — Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart,” the Illinois senator said in a 30-minute speech before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ, reports the Associated Press. “Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us.”

“At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” his speech continued, reports the AP.

Obama urged America to dig itself out of its "cynical" approach to problem solving.

"Whether it's poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect 10-point plan,” Obama’s speech read, according to a press release issued by the UCC. “They are moral problems rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness ‘in the imperfections of man’ and in the cruelty of man toward man."

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.

According to the AP, in 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest Christian denomination to do so. Obama believes that states should decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional amendment against it.

Obama trails Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York by 33 percent to 21 percent in the most recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll among Democrats and those leaning toward the party. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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