Ben Witherington on Obama Rumors

Dr. Ben Witherington is unhappy about Christians who spread the rumor that Senator Barack Obama is a Muslim. Witherington writes:

“It is hard for me to say what bothers me most about these fear and smear tactics by some Christians– whether its simply the untruth of the claim, or the fact that some Christians are prepared to use all sorts of unChristian tactics to prevent Obama from becoming President of the United States.”

Well, he’s right. Senator Obama is not a Muslim. But that fact doesn’t mean that he’s fit to President. I myself am happy to be counted among those Christians who would like “to prevent Obama from becoming President of the United States,” as Witherington has it. But my opposition to his candidacy has nothing to do with the scurrilous rumor that he is a closet Muslim.

Obama thinks that it should be legal for a woman to kill her unborn baby anywhere from 0-9 months of pregnancy, and he supports state sanctioned same-sex unions. No, he’s not a Muslim. But conscientious Christians ought to oppose his candidacy anyway.

22 Responses to Ben Witherington on Obama Rumors

  1. volfan007 July 31, 2008 at 8:57 am #

    Denny,

    Amen.

    David

  2. Hector July 31, 2008 at 9:18 am #

    Denny,

    You write this like there is some dissagreement between you and Witherington, but his quote and your commentary seem compatible. Oppose Obama but not with lies. Witherington doesnt seem to be saying (in the above quote) that he is fit to be president, only that he isn’t a muslim. You say you are happy to be among those who want to prevent Obama from being president (fair enough) but his reference isn’t generally to people who oppose Obama, but specifically to those who oppose him with “unChristian tactics”.

  3. MzEllen July 31, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    I agree with Hector. There are many, many really good reasons to oppose Obama for president.

    We don’t have to (and shouldn’t) stoop to untruths.

  4. O'Farrell July 31, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    My issue with this blog entry is that Burk wants to impose his Christian religious ideals upon the U.S. in the same way that Islamic states enact Sharia law, ignoring the political ramifications of adherence to religious ideals in a civil environment. Sen. Barack Obama acknowledges the potential illegality of a late term-viable abortion on moral bases, but he also opposes a policy proposal that criminalizes physicians who perform abortions to save a mothers life. A real life consequence of the legislation as it has been argued in the chambers that he has served in, resulting in an all out “witch-hunt” on physicians.

    Language means everything when it concerns legislation, because it indicates the severity of implications to the law proposed. My analysis of all the legislative arguments indicates that, as Sen. Obama stated himself, he wasn’t satisfied with the language of the abortion bills that I assume you’re referring to. This leads to the issue of viability, the important word that most of this legislation hinges on.

    It is not the duty of government to force a woman to continue a pregnancy that she has deemed terminable outside of the window of viability. Just as the court has ruled in Roe, it is her choice, although I’d restrict that choice to the window of viability.

    If your problem with Sen. Obama is abortion, then you should abandon your support of the U.S. political institution all together. The GOP, when it controlled Congress and the Executive, didn’t pass attempt to undergo an amendment process to overturn Roe v. Wade. The issue was ignored and nothing happened, only lip service to the evangelicals for votes.

    Also, your issue with gay marriage is another issue that the government is acting contrary to the constitution in its restriction. If you have a moral “bone” about gay-marriage, don’t do it. But, it’s not your decision to restrict another person from doing something that doesn’t infringe upon your life, liberty, and property. The U.S. government is not the arena to find support of for religious legislation.

    Lastly, you have been mislead to think that moral legislation appealing to religious ideals would stand in the U.S. You have a right to believe how you want, but you are prohibited to impose that belief on society. The right-wing conservative knows this concept, which is why the abortion issue wasn’t acknowledged.

  5. O'Farrell July 31, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    My issue with this blog entry is that Burk wants to impose his Christian religious ideals upon the U.S. in the same way that Islamic states enact Sharia law, ignoring the political ramifications of adherence to religious ideals in a civil environment. Sen. Barack Obama acknowledges the potential illegality of a late term-viable abortion on moral bases, but he also opposes a policy proposal that criminalizes physicians who perform abortions to save a mothers life. A real life consequence of the legislation as it has been argued in the chambers that he has served in, resulting in an all out “witch-hunt” on physicians.

    Language means everything when it concerns legislation, because it indicates the severity of implications to the law proposed. My analysis of all the legislative arguments indicates that, as Sen. Obama stated himself, he wasn’t satisfied with the language of the abortion bills that I assume you’re referring to. This leads to the issue of viability, the important word that most of this legislation hinges on.

    It is not the duty of government to force a woman to continue a pregnancy that she has deemed terminable outside of the window of viability. Just as the court has ruled in Roe, it is her choice, although I’d restrict that choice to the window of viability.

    If your problem with Sen. Obama is abortion, then you should abandon your support of the U.S. political institution all together. The GOP, when it controlled Congress and the Executive, didn’t attempt to enact an amendment process to overturn Roe v. Wade. The issue was ignored and nothing happened, only lip service to the evangelical for votes.

    Also, your issue with gay marriage is another issue that the government is acting contrary to the constitution in its restriction. If you have a moral “bone” about gay-marriage, don’t do it. But, it’s not your decision to restrict another person from doing something that doesn’t infringe upon your life, liberty, and property. The U.S. government is not the arena to find support of for religious legislation.

    Lastly, you have been mislead to think that moral legislation to appeal to religious ideals would stand in the U.S. You have a right to believe how you want, but you are prohibited to impose that belief on society. The right-wing conservative knows this concept, which is why the abortion issue wasn’t acknowledged.

  6. Billy W July 31, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    Paul,

    Does “he is not a mulim” count as a positive statement about Obama? If so, you gotta chalk one up for the liberal side of Denny.

    🙂

  7. Paul July 31, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    Billy,

    there’s a difference between “he’s not a muslim” (you know, the truth), and “he DOES actually have some good qualities, y’all.”

  8. Brian (Another) July 31, 2008 at 2:03 pm #

    The concept of why Denny doesn’t post positive Obama material has intrigued me for some time. I think a capable analogy would be like this. Should a medical review journal list out all of the good things about Phen-Phen as well? Then at the end say, yea, there are good things, but the bottom line is that it has a bad side affect of death?

    I think Denny sees Obama as missing it on the key issues. Drilling down and saying he has a great newspaper recycling program planned seems out of scope. Or, more specifically, Obama has already stated how much he feels about abortion (and, to note, Obama has already stated that abortion is such a key value that he alluded to it swaying his SC nominations, so transcendent value it is), he unequivocally denies defining traditional marriage, his healthcare plan is lots of promises but fiscally irresponsible, so given his stance on these meatier, across the board issues, does it matter that he might have a good plan for reducing mercury contamination? This isn’t to say that it (mercury) isn’t dangerous or an issue, but discussing seems out of scope.

    And perhaps we disagree on which issues are “important”, but if issues are non-negotiable, shouldn’t that be “stop right there”? I.e. if I or anyone else sees the big issues as missing, it would be a waste of time to focus on the smaller issues. Obama is an engaging and charismatic speaker. He wants to raise minimum wage. Good points, but he gets it all wrong (in my extremely humble opinion) at the base of the issue pyramid.

  9. Billy W July 31, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    Paul,

    I do. hence the smiley face indicating a joke was previously made.

  10. David Hamilton July 31, 2008 at 10:57 pm #

    Obama gives us a great example of how stupid we Americans are. The guy promises change left and right. “What change?” a critical mind might ask. But, apparently, not an American mind.

    The guy is on the doorstep of the Presidency of the United States of America, arguably the most powerful position in the world, on the pie crust promises (thanks Mary Poppins!) of ambiguous change.

    He plays fast and loose with Christianity, but promises not to budge on the issue of abortion.

    I don’t get Obama, but I somewhat get how sheep-like we Americans are. Give us charisma and change, and we’ll give you the Oval Office.

    Oh that Jesus would come and call His sheep, who will hear His voice and know Him! Oh for that glorious day!

  11. Truth Unites... and Divides August 1, 2008 at 12:13 am #

    Denny: “I myself am happy to be counted among those Christians who would like “to prevent Obama from becoming President of the United States,” as Witherington has it. … But conscientious Christians ought to oppose his candidacy anyway.

    Ditto. And amen.

  12. John August 1, 2008 at 12:15 am #

    lol. The rhetoric of some Christians about a stupid election of one country out of hundreds amazes me, as if the eschaton hangs in the balance of our votes. Just which kingdom are we (supposed Christians posting on a Christian blog) for anyways? The American imperialistic kingdom, or the kingdom of God? I’ll choose the latter, but it appears we have a mixture of the two from the moderator and his fellows.

    Too funny (yet so sad)

  13. Truth Unites... and Divides August 1, 2008 at 12:15 am #

    Denny: “But conscientious Christians ought to oppose his candidacy anyway.”

    Which includes the drafters and signers of “An Evangelical Manifesto”.

  14. MzEllen August 1, 2008 at 12:53 am #

    John, can I safely assume that you do not take part in the election process (of wherever you happen to be from)?

  15. D.J. Williams August 1, 2008 at 7:11 am #

    TUAD,

    Nice of you to throw in a cheap shot at the much-maligned manifesto. And yes, this signer (and still proud of it) opposes Obama’s candidacy.

  16. Brian (Another) August 1, 2008 at 9:03 am #

    John,

    We are to live our lives in peace and tranquility, but not apathy. We do live for the kingdom (Christ’s). In all things we are to glorify God. That includes the political process and how we vote. I don’t think any of the rhetoric here overemphasizes or is overstating the results the election. Taking it too far would be to revolt if our selected candidate doesn’t get voted into office or saying that Obama=Christ’s final judgement. Those who are discussing and debating the political candidates have done so by and large with a theological scope. As in I oppose Sen. Obama b/c of his non-biblical stance on abortion, non-traditional marriage views, etc. Others are against McCain for war-related reasons, apathy towards the poor, etc.

    It seems your comment, while understood that we don’t think more highly of ourselves than we ought, progresses easily and quickly to the Thessalonian idea of kicking back, sippin’ a mai tai waiting for the skies to roll back (to paraphrase Driscoll). The election process affects us directly and millions here and more abroad (as much as you may disagree or see that as simple imperialism). Unlike Rome, we get to choose our leaders. Our leaders enact policies (and judges and ………) that affect us. I would say that most know that no, Christ and the angels will not be seen because we vote or don’t vote a certain way, but, by our choice, we are reflective of our values (NOTE: No candidate reflects every jot and tittle of our values, of course, so prioritization is also reflected). So I weigh the choice seriously (as do others, yes even those with whom I disagree).

    Your point is well taken, but it is off base with its accusation and categorization.

  17. D.J. Williams August 1, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    Good thoughts, Brian.

  18. Truth Unites.. and Divides August 1, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    DJ: “Nice of you to throw in a cheap shot at the much-maligned manifesto.”

    DJ, my statement in #10 is a natural consequence of Denny’s statement. If you’re going to accuse me of a cheap shot, then your accusation also extends towards Denny.

  19. D.J. Williams August 1, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    I’m curious as to why you felt the need to mention the manifesto and its signers. How was it a natural – as well as significant – consequence?

  20. John August 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    It’s because he can’t let anything go and always feels the need to bring up discussions we’ve already had on posts not meant to discuss them.

  21. teleologist August 1, 2008 at 5:26 pm #

    Dr. Witherington said, “Unfortunately there is another side to these smear tactics as well— not so subtle racism.”

    This sounds like personal bias and ignore reality. Isn’t it just possible, that given the climate we have been in the last 7 years, Americans are fearful of anyone who might have ties to the radical Muslims who is still bent on destroying us? Isn’t that a more likely objection to Obama dressing in Muslim clothing than the color of his skin? Must we look at everything through racism lenses?

  22. Lydia August 17, 2008 at 12:47 am #

    His name does not help the rumors. :o)

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