Another Dumb Battle in the Phony War For Obama’s Soul

I read Jennifer Epstein’s Politico piece on Obama and religion yesterday, noted it briefly as “annoying” in a roundup, and intended to forget about it. But then Charlie Pierce wrote about it, and as a regular critic of the MSM’s incredibly consistent beffudlement of almost everything that involves the overlap of religion and politics, I figured I should weigh in.

The only thing the least bit “newsy” about Epstein’s piece is that she provides an update on the number of Presidential Appearances in Church at the six-month mark of the Obama administration:

[H]e’s attended Sunday services only occasionally, visiting a patchwork of congregations 19 times in all since taking office, according to a POLITICO analysis of White House pool reports….

In all, Obama has gone to services on about 6 percent of the Sundays of his presidency and just once on Christmas Day, in 2011, which also happened to be a Sunday. George W. Bush, by contrast, went to church on close to 30 percent of Sundays during his eight years in office.

So there’s that for those of you who like to count spiritual beans.

But for the most part Epstein just recycles the conservative smears of Obama’s alleged godlessness and association with Jeremiah Wright, and turns to what Digby and others have so aptly called the Religious Industrial Complex for a response. So once again we get to hear from the Rev. Joshua DuBois, the guy who worked so hard to make Obama’s “religious outreach” extend almost entirely to conservatives.

Maybe this is all accurate and Obama’s grasp of Christianity is so shallow that he identifies it with people who don’t agree with him on much of anything. But I prefer to pay a bit more attention to his own words, and the president who delivered the 2009 Notre Dame commencement speech on doubt as essential to faith is the authority on the 44th president’s religion I will continue to consult.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.