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Religion in the White House – Is it time for Change?

 article about Barack Obama

This article belongs to Religion theme.


So there we have it. On the 4th November 2008, history was made, and the face of American politics, culture, and society has changed forever. The dream, that black people will not be persecuted simply because of the colour of their skin has been realised; the United States of America has elected, as its 44th President, the first black president of the USA.

Barack Obama will be sworn in as president on the 20th January 2009, but this incredible journey, and even more incredible conclusion begs the question; should religion still be as important in the selection process for the President of the United States of America (as envisioned by the puritan leaders who colonised the New World)?

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It wouldn't have mattered if Obama (as has been proven) was the ideal candidate for the job, this detail that he could be Muslim would have seen a landslide vote for a weaker candidate.
I have come to ask this question, because of the rumour that Barack Obama is in fact a Muslim, stated by the Republican Party. This rumour threatened to put a serious downturn on Obama's campaign and, if proven, would have meant a certain loss for the Democrat Party, solely based on his religious orientation. It wouldn't have mattered if Obama (as has been proven) was the ideal candidate for the job, this detail that he could be Muslim would have seen a landslide vote for a weaker candidate.

Sure, we can argue that America's values and ideologies are built on the Christian faith, and that nearly all American Presidents have had affiliations within the Christian religion. We can also argue that America is rumoured to be a highly Christian country (the Millennium Study by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch in 1999 however suggests that only 43% of Americans attend church every week).

We have established that America prides itself on its Christian ideologies; the ideologies that the country was built on. But should this be a deciding factor on who should run the country? I think not, and here is why:

a) American political election is based on a democratic method of voting. The idea of democracy means that representatives are elected by the people for the people. Although religion is important to the American people, surely the American people would want to elect someone whose policies are in the voter's best intentions, not somebody solely on their religious orientation.
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If America is the land of the free, then should religious orientation decide whether you are fit to run this country of freedom and opportunity?

b) America is vastly becoming, and has over the past hundred years or so, a multi cultural nation. Christianity isn't the prominent religion in the country anymore. According to a 2001 study by ARIS, the percentage of Christians in America has slipped from 86.2% in 1990 to 76.5% in 2001. Although the percentages of non-Christians is still quite small in the country (1.3% Jewish, 0.5% Muslim, and 14.1% not following a religion for example), predictions state that the number of Christians in America will be outnumbered by non-Christians by around the year 2042 at this rate.

c) America is the land of the Free, the land of opportunity. This is one of the ideologies that America has based itself upon. If America is the land of the free, then should religious orientation decide whether you are fit to run this country of freedom and opportunity?

Bringing the question of Obama's religious orientation shows a racial ignorance not only from the American people, but also from the American people in power too. In a radio supplement on BBC Radio One, one particular interview from an American citizen stated that Obama, with his middle name being Hussein, must be an Arab, and therefore must have allegiances with terrorists.

In an interview for "Meet the Press" on October 19th 2008, ex Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested that people in the Republican party have also mentioned that, with Obama being a supposed Muslim, he must have links to terrorism, and terrorists themselves.

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I believe in the need for change. I believe that it doesn't matter on religious orientation, the colour of your skin, or how you chose to live your life.
The recurring theme of the 2008 Presidential Election has been one of change. A change in social attitudes has seen a black president for the first time in history, and has seen a realisation of the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, as stated in that famous speech in 1963.

I believe in the need for change. I believe that it doesn't matter on religious orientation, the colour of your skin, or how you chose to live your life. In a land of the free, the most important thing in electing a leader, a democratically elected representative, is their patriotism for their country, and their ability to help the country prosper through the elected persons 4 year term.

I have to agree with Colin Powell, and his point surrounding the controversy surrounding Obama's is he/isn't he debate. Although Powell defends Obama as a Christian; "He's a Christian, he's always been a Christian", he goes on to state that the "…really right answer is what if he is? IS there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?"

I do have to say it is time for a change, and with yesterday's iconic moment in American history, I think change will come, and I believe that we are entering a new age in American politics.



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