Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dear President Barack Obama, On Behalf of the Christian Community......

Dear Mr. President:

I know that you have given your opinion about some of us in the Christian community. I heard the sound bytes, over and over, of what you said in this year's National Prayer Breakfast. I think it is safe to say that there is "bad blood" between you and many in the Christian community, certainly between you and those who consider themselves "right wing, conservative" Christians. I think we need to be clear about the Biblical meaning of what a Christian is. This person is not any political party but is a person whose primary allegiance is to the Person of Jesus Christ and this allegiance transcends loyalty to political party or anything else. These Christians who are looking to "Christianize" politics and get Christians (meaning "right wing" Christians) mean well, but they are sincerely wrong. We believers are not to look to Washington to save us, but to Jesus.

I know that many in the Christian community do not believe your profession of Christian faith. They call you a Muslim (and I am not at all implying that it is a bad thing to be a Muslim). The issue here is that your integrity is being questioned. I know that your citizenship is still questioned by some. Myself, I believe in taking the professions of people at face value, unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. But, as a frequent user of social networks, I am seeing you and your very character and humanity being called into question. Have you ever wondered why?

Just today, when I scrolled through my Facebook Newsfeed, I saw this survey question that this campaign wanted people to answer. I did not answer the question. It was simply this: "Do you think that President Obama is deliberately trying to destroy the United States?" All we needed to answer was "Yes" or "No." Months ago, I would often visit a Christian website, which I reduced my visits to, not only because of its political bias but because of its many ads and its slow loading time. The topic of the article was a question that was submitted to a Pastor columnist. That question was: "Is it okay for a Christian to hate President to hate President Barack Obama?" I was appalled at the question; did the person really think he or she was going to be granted permission to do what we are clearly commanded not do to, dishonor government leaders? I was just as appalled at what I thought was the mild tone of this Pastor's reply, in sympathizing with the person's feelings about you. Have we come to this, that this office is no longer honored?

I have often been appalled at how so many treat you and talk about you. In fact, I have seen Facebook users call you the Anti-Christ! I remember one incident of a former Facebook friend who posted about you and when she was admonished to pray for you, she declared that you were beyond hope as you are the Anti-Christ. I could not take it anymore and, tired of seeing all the hate directed at you (or what looks like hate), I posted a mild admonition about our need to show respect for our government, even if we don't agree with them or do not like them. A few days later, I found I was "unfriended" by this Facebook user. Years ago, a "Pastor" made the news because he "prayed" for your death because you "had to be" punished for approving the murder of unborn babies through approving abortion at all stages of fetal development. This morning, I saw a post, written from your viewpoint, with talking points about how you are destroying the country. I can go on and on; these are far from isolated instances. And, much of the anti-Obama sentiment comes from the Christian community. I see a pattern here.

Mr. President, these many Christians who are unhappy with you do have a point. I hate to say this, but I cannot dismiss all that they say. I do not know if you remember the Sudanese woman, Meriam Ibrahim, who was imprisoned in Sudan, along with her two children (one who she gave birth to while in chains). Along with many others in the Christian community, I signed many petitions for her release from prison, where she and her children were only because she would not deny her faith in Jesus Christ. I well remember that we signed petitions for Meriam and they were directed to you and I remember the time when a bunch of human rights and religious freedom nonprofits got together to appeal to you and call on you to demand Meriam's release. They were meeting outside the White House, I remember. According to the reports of some of them, you were totally unresponsive to their concerns, though her husband was an American citizen. Yes, Meriam was finally released after some seven months though she and her family had to go through "red tape" before they could leave Sudan and get re-settled in the United States. More recently, we have appealed to you on behalf of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian Christian and an American citizen. Currently, you have threatened to veto any measure that would forbid any nuclear deal with Iran without releasing Pastor Saeed and other three American citizens from Iranian prisons. Last week, the U.S. Senate voted "Yes" to release Saeed and the other three American citizens, from Iran's prison and to allow no deal with Iran without this. We hope and pray that you will not carry out your veto threat. But I'm being forced to admit that you seem apathetic to what happens to Christians around the world. You made a remark about some of us being "less than loving" because we speak up on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Jesus who are suffering oppression, violence, imprisonment, and martyrdom just because they love Jesus?

I remember how you referenced the Crusades as a comparison to Islamic State (ISIS). Many of us have problems with this comparison. The Crusades were definitely wrong. They were not okay and nothing can justify them. But as I read history, these Crusades were a wrong response to wrongs done against Christians are, more accurately, Catholics. They were not unprovoked attacks. They were wrong, because taking revenge is wrong and because violence is wrong. But to compare them to what ISIS is doing today, with their totally unprovoked and barbaric attacks on innocents, including babies and children and religious minorities, does not make sense and this logic does not hold water. Many Christians firmly believe that your support for them is shaky and weak, while your support for the Muslim community is unwavering and strong. Again, your support for Muslims is a good thing. But you need to show wholehearted support for the Christian community. I applaud your advocacy for working-class people, economic justice, social justice, and health care access. I agree with many of your policies. I hate to see the rift between you and so many believers in Jesus Christ. What will it take to change this?

Mr. President, these believers truly believe that you have betrayed your country and may be trying to destroy it. Your policies on abortion and gay marriage are deal breakers enough for many "religious right wing" believers whose deeply held convictions forbid these things as wrong. I don't think you are out to destroy this country or to persecute Christians, as many of my brothers and sisters in Christ believe. Not deliberately. I can't dismiss all these concerns. At one time, all of us were unborn children. What if abortion had been legal when you were in that stage of development? I don't need to answer that. Also, ask yourself if your foreign policies may be actually enabling persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, as some in the Christian community believe. Just as I think you need to reach out to the Christian community and listen to us, so we in this community need to respect you, even though we may not agree with you, and listen to you. I take your word for it when you made your Christian profession, Mr. President, but you please produce fruit (in the form of policies and conduct that are Biblical) that matches your profession of faith. We, in turn, need to refrain from the disrespect that many others are indulging in.


Lisa DeSherlia

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