President Barack Obama is a man who possesses knowledge in abundance and common sense in spades. While I rarely agree with his political machinations, I will concede that his commercial savvy and ability to capitalize on the obsession that many people have with him has been pure strategic poetry — the man is brilliant. I believe when history tells the tale, the scope of his presidency will not merely be measured by his successes and failures, but by the gnawing need that America had to define who he was as a man, and what exactly he stood for, which for many, still remains a mystery.

When he bravely examined the opposing racial lenses through which his White grandmother and Rev. Jeremiah Wright viewed the world, he inadvertently sparked controversy and divisiveness across the color spectrum. Depending on whom you ask, he’s either a secret believer in Black Liberation Theology (which, by the way, would be a more admirable and historically aware stance to take than urging Black America to stop ‘complainin’ and cryin’), or an elite, Ivy-League bi-racial opportunist, trained on the streets of Chicago in pulling at the heart strings of impoverished communities in search of a leader.

Bank boy-toy, distant and pretentious are all insults that have been hurled at President Obama, and the veracity of those claims has proven to be a variable contingent upon the polarizing political maelstroms in which the president often finds himself ensnared. Though both his character and his motives have been intensely dissected when such instances occur, one constant remains, albeit, battered and bruised, but still standing: Black America’s love affair with Barack H. Obama. He stands aloofly at the dangerous intersection of politics and idolatry, directing traffic with the skill of a seasoned cross-guard. For many U.S citizens of African descent, it is the instinctive belief that only God, through his son Jesus, has been our divine traveling companion from rancid slave quarters to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the slightest indication that Obama shares that belief is all that’s needed to ensure a loyalty that withstands broken campaign promises. It is understandable, then, even expected, that the question flitting with ease through liberal, secular circles is only fearfully whispered in a Black community largely rooted in traditional Christian values:

Is President Barack Obama atheist?

Initially intriguing me in 2008—then buried beneath my disappointment in the unexpected, imperialistic leanings of the Obama Administration’s foreign policies—, this question resurfaced from my subconscious while reading the detailed article that was featured on Huffington Post’s Black Voices Sunday Special last week. The structured planning that goes into the Obama family attending church services was examined and the feel-good memories of lucky congregants who were granted the opportunity to worship in his presence was on full display.

Then, ironically, over the Thanksgiving holiday, which as comedian John Stewart joked, is the occasion when we celebrate “a bunch of pagans teaching religious zealots how to farm, so if we should thank anyone…” President Obama sent shock-waves through the country, specifically FOX News, by not mentioning God in the YouTube version of his Thanksgiving address. Flustered conservatives were squawking louder than the turkeys pardoned by the White House. Priest Jonathan Morris even went so far as to lambast President Obama for counting he and his family as “lucky,’ not “blessed.” Enraged, right-wing columnist, Ben Shapiro, tweeted: “Unreal that Obama doesn’t mention God in Thanksgiving message. Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?”

I watched in stunned amazement as President Obama was viciously criticized for his predictably, politically correct Thanksgiving message. It wasn’t as if he actually acknowledged the murdering and pillaging of Native Americans that took place on the original Turkey Day; nor, did he reflect on anything less superficial than “good food” and “football.” Understanding the painstaking care he must have taken when considering how best to address a nation that waits with baited breath for him to breach his impenetrable wall of impartiality, I patiently waited for the majority of Black Americans to swiftly clamor around him to deflect the blatant character assassination attempts by FOX News. Surprisingly, what did I hear instead?

Crickets.

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  • African

    Most of the comments here are very militant and that explains why Believers and Non-believers never makes sense when trying to explain their positions. First of all the comment about believing in Higher Power suppresses someone’s ability to explore science is pretty much a stupid. Listen yo, take a look at the early civilizations like Sumerian, Egyptian and Mayans, they had religion and that was before Western Civilization birthed the Christo-Judean-Islamic philosophy which any history student will tell you was the vehicle for western civilization.. How can you then say confidently that religion or believing in a higher power suppresses your ability to explore science? All the scientific inventions that stemmed from Western Civilization that were accomplished by “mostly non-believing scientists” as many of you tend to put it, were mere advancements of the inventions that were crafted in the civilizations that came before western civilization and they were more spiritual and religious to say the least. So no, I being religious or spiritual has nothing to do with being poor in science. C’mon I used to be religious and spiritual back in Primary and High school and Math and Sciences were my favorite subjects. I read the Bible and lived by it and even used to teach my friends about the word of god but still excelled in Math and Sciences. I’m not talking average performance here, I’m talking As and I still do in University since I’m taking a science related course (Not social Science though). Even though I lost my faith after personal evaluation of the doctrines I was exposed to, It had nothing to do with science because seriously, Science can’t explain a lot things, neither can religion but I wonder why in the first place we even put the two subjects as rivals or alternatives. And btw all my science teachers are Christians.
    Before you delegitimize Christianity on the ground that it subjected us the black people to slavery, remember evolution which is a branch of science subjected us and still does to racial abuse (Monkey chants). Also remember science subjected us to HIV/AIDS and yes it’s the people of color worldwide from Africa to Europe to North America who are mostly affected by HIV/AIDS if we are to go by statistics. Do you have an idea how many africans are affected by scientific tests carried by pharmaceutical companies? Or through the disposal of toxic wastes by western corporations? – All that is science. If you are going to delegitimize Christianity or Islam or Judaism on the grounds that it has been used to hurt humanity – Terrorism, Human sacrifices and all of that, we must also remember that it was people like Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer etc who created Nuclear weapons. While I can’t speculate Oppenheimer’s faith, Albert Einstein was a non-believer. Look at Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, look at what they did to humanity yet they were non-believers.
    I can go on and on about brilliant scientists from Iran, Egypt, Israel etc who are both religious and spiritual. I wonder if they too have low IQ as purported by Atheists. I can also tell you of many ignorant human beings who profess atheism.. They are not even scientists or never been to a science class or cannot even solve an easy mathematical problem but will always bring science in any conversation about religion… Those, I call them idiots and I saw many of them in the comments section. Am I defending Religion? Not really, all I want is for people to respect one another and stop putting everyone in a box, My dad is religious but he’s one of the most intelligent people I know around me.. So calling him ignorant for believing in something that serves him well, is kind of disrespectful. He works hard to take care of his family, he never get into fights. He’s just an easy guy minding his own business and a very proud father of me despite my rebellious nature. The fact that he even game freedom to learn, evaluate and know what is good for me in matters of faith, solidifies his intelligence. I know many many other people who are like him but truth be told, atheists are very militants, always calling people names and they think name-calling is a display of intelligence.. SMH!
    Think about it.

    • B

      I appreciate your comment. BUT, I’m pretty sure many of us non-religious types don’t appreciate being referred to as “non-believers,” as if we don’t believe in anything just because we happen to not believe in religion. Just a semantic issue I’d thought I’d point out. Otherwise, good comment.

    • Jen

      My father is also extremely religious. I’m not sure how this is relevant? I don’t think the problem is that atheists are “militant,” I think it’s that since religion is such a deeply personal (read: admittedly irrational) topic, the religious tend to be oversensitive and lacking in objectivity. One cannot make legitimate points about the benefits of secularism to overall society without religious people taking it as a personal insult to their value system. It is impossible to have a rational discussion on such matters with people that have such a knee-jerk reactionism but what can one reasonably expect from those who subscribe to a sky fairy by way of indoctrination and refuse to entertain alternatives?

    • Jen

      For instance, if one were to point out – quite accurately – that encouraging secularism through schools and the media would likely result in fewer people blowing themselves up in the name of their particular lord, one could feasibly be charged with a hate crime in American society. Or in this case, be told they are, “Putting people down.” It’s almost irrelevant if one has a point. LOL.