The Ambivalent Theocrat

There are legitimate theological arguments on both sides of our political divide, but they are not equally well received. In America, it seems, one man’s moral teacher is another’s Torquemada — the difference is usually determined by party registration — and the returns on overt religiosity are mixed at best. As president, George W. Bush was repeatedly and pejoratively labeled “theocrat” for acknowledging his faith, and even the slightest intimation that his religious belief informed his political vantage point was perceived by the Left as symptomatic of an almost treasonous disrespect for the separation of church and state.

Throughout his political career, Barack Obama, too, has marshaled religious argument and imagery to his cause when politically expedient, but nary a whisper has followed his proclamations — even when his pastor of 20 years was exposed as an unreconstructed bigot. Obama’s appeals to religion and his claim to be “doing the Lord’s work” are cynical and mercurial enough to have pushed Michael Gerson amusingly to quip that, “even when Obama changes his views, Jesus somehow comes around to agreeing with him.” His varying use of Scripture has been nowhere more striking than with his gay-marriage “evolution.” Announcing his changed position on the issue to ABC News in May, Obama confirmed that he and Michelle are

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