In an interview about the role of religion in public life today at an event at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama appeared to say he thinks churches should spend less time opposing abortion and more time on issues that he finds politically advantageous for him.
In answering a question, Obama said he thought churches should do more to speak out on other issues like poverty because they’re ones that help him politically, as opposed to abortion — where he disagrees with most Christians on the right to life of unborn babies. Obama admitted that doing so would be politically advantageous to him — or at least to Democrats in the next election, where pro-abortion Hillary Clinton is the expected nominee.
He appeared to accuse Catholic and evangelical churches of thinking issues like poverty are “nice to have” but that they care more about abortion than the plight of the poor.
This may sound self-interested because there have been — these are areas where I agree with the evangelical community and faith-based groups, and then there are issues where we have had disagreements around reproductive issues, or same-sex marriage, or what have you. And so maybe it appears advantageous for me to want to focus on these issues of poverty, and not as much on these other issues.
But I want to insist, first of all, I will not be part of the election next year, so this is more just a broader reflection of somebody who has worked with churches and worked in communities.
There is great caring and great concern, but when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what’s the defining issue, when you’re talking in your congregations, what’s the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians, or as Catholics, or what have you, that this is oftentimes viewed as a “nice to have” relative to an issue like abortion. That’s not across the board, but there sometimes has been that view, and certainly that’s how it’s perceived in our political circles.
Obama also called Pope Francis a role model — but ignored the fact that the head of the Catholic Church has been outspoken in his pro-life views.
But our faith-based groups I think have the capacity to frame this — and nobody has shown that better than Pope Francis, who I think has been transformative just through the sincerity and insistence that he’s had that this is vital to who we are.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
And that emphasis I think is why he’s had such incredible appeal, including to young people, all around the world. And I hope that that is a message that everybody receives when he comes to visit here. I can’t wait to host him because I think it will help to spark an even broader conversation of the sort that we’re having today.
Many Americans recall the answer Obama gave years ago on religion and abortion, when he aditted that knowing the beginning of human life was “above my pay grade.”