President Obama’s remarks at the Fort Hood memorial contained an unexpected pronouncement:
“No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next.”
It’s not the pluralism that’s unexpected, nor the condemnation of the killer. The surprise came in his belief in a judgment in the afterlife. In a 2008 interview for The Stranger, Obama’s tone on the afterlife was decidedly more agnostic. Recounting a conversation with one of his daughters, he said,
“I wondered whether I should have told her the truth, that I wasn’t sure what happens when we die, any more than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the Big Bang.”
I don’t presume to know all the ins and outs of Obama’s personal beliefs, though I think it’s pretty clear that he holds to a more liberal brand of Christianity. What is clear, however, is that his recent remarks are a significant departure from the ones in 2008.