Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Lately, we have been hearing questions about whether Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or none of the above. A recent poll conducted by Pew Research indicated that approximately one out of four adults in America believe he is a Muslim and one out of three believe he is Christian. The rest have no idea.

This has made me wonder why it is so difficult for average people to be able to discern the religion of the leader of their country. It appears to boil down to the actions or lack thereof where it relates to a specific religion being professed by our president.

What does Barack Obama say concerning his religion? He claims to be a Christian. Evidently, in the minds of 2/3 of Americans, that is not enough to convince them. Why aren’t we taking the man at his word? Even more so, why would so many believe him to be a Muslim when he claims that he is not? The answers lie in his actions. Most of us are familiar with the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” We appear to be applying that truth to President Obama.

A majority of the public is not accepting the word of the president, but is watching his actions. His actions are telling them something different. Our experience has taught us that not everyone who claims to be something is what he claims. The actions of President Obama are leading more and more people to doubt his Christianity. He claims to have the “faith”; but, as we see, that will only take you so far:

(James 2:18-20 KJV) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Why is it so difficult to determine if a person is a Christian, especially a protestant Christian?

The Catholics are fairly open about their religion. They attend mass, many have shrines set up in or at their homes, some carry beads, they openly make the gesture of the cross, etc.

The Jews observe their special holidays, they attend the synagogue, they obey the priest, they cover their heads in prayer, etc.

The Mormans are very faithful concerning church attendance and tithing. They go on two-year missions for the church. They hold special ceremonies and weddings in their temples and work hard at living a life that aligns with their religion.

The Muslims hold prayer time several times each day, bowing toward Mecca. They have a strict set of rules or laws that they live under. The men dominate the society and the women are very restricted in dress and public interaction.

It is not that hard to recognize many followers of any of these religions. So, what is it about Christianity that is different? As Christians, we do not typically have special garments that we wear, there are no hats required, we make no signs when we pray and do not bow to Jerusalem. We do have a couple holidays, but they are basically celebrated as Americans and seem to have lost much of the religious meaning.

Christians attend a variety of denominational churches and do not have one set of doctrines that all follow. There are disagreements among Christians as to many teachings in the Bible and the current application of those concepts.

This is additionally confused by many people calling themselves Christians and having no understanding of what it really means to be such. Some believe that they must be a Christian simply because they are an American or because they attend church, sometimes.

A true Christian is one who has been changed, by the Spirit of God, on the inside. It is not manifest in uniforms and other outward displays, but should be demonstrated by a changed life. One is not a Christian just because they claim to be or even because they state that they believe in Jesus. As shown in the above verses, even the devils believe.

As we encounter those who claim to be a Christian, we are not able to demand to see their “papers” to demonstrate membership. It is prudent to accept their words; but, at the same time watch their lives to see if the life of Christ is being lived out through their daily walk. A real Christian is a follower of Jesus the Christ. We cannot repeat a prayer, live like the devil, and then expect open arms at the gate to heaven.

It is not our responsibility or expectation to just accept that Barack Obama is a Christian when we have difficulty seeing Christian virtues and principles in his life. We are right in doubting and withholding conclusion until we see the works to support the words. It is up to him to live as a Christian in order to be pleasing to God and in order to have those who believe his statement of faith.

So, since it does appear to be more difficult to determine if another person is a real Christian, is it because Christians are less religious? No, I believe it is because Christians are less legalistic. We are defined, not by ceremony or attire or scheduled prayers. We are set apart by a difference in heart and a lifestyle that follows a belief in a risen Savior.

1 comment:

  1. I like that you mentioned that works have nothing to do with our security, and so that may be part of the reason Christians are less simple to distinguish. Still, I think that Christians may take advantage of that and fail to act in a way that demonstrates their love for God. Jesus said that people would recognize who were His followers because of their love. We are supposed to be recognizable to outsiders. True disciples of Christ will be, without trying to be.