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?