Obama defends his stance on Christian right 'hijacking faith'
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Democratic Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Barack Obama defended his criticisms of conservative Christian leaders in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody.
"When you have pastors and television pundits who appear to explicitly coordinate with one political party; when you're implying that your fellow Americans are traitors, terrorist sympathizers or akin to the devil himself; then I think you're attempting to hijack the faith of those who follow you for your own personal or political ends," the freshman Illinois Senator said at The Brody File.
Brody had asked Obama about his critique of Christian right leaders given in a June 23 address to a convention of the United Church of Christ, the senator's denomination.
"[S]omewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together...Faith started being used to drive us apart. Faith got hijacked," the New York Times reported.
The Senator also argued to Brody that America is not a 'Christian nation.'
"For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice," Obama wrote to Brody, pointing to early American leaders who fought to include the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
He went on, "Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers."
In an analytical follow-up, Brody implied that Obama's stance could pose political risks.
"So while he tries to make the distinction by pointing out problems with these leaders, in the process, by proxy, millions of Evangelicals may take that criticism personally as well," he wrote.