Our recent Obama posts have incited a lot of defensive comments. We’ve been called alternately unprincipled (new one), hypocritical (not new), full of crap (overused), an idiot (ditto), and intellectually dishonest (uncommon, but not new).
The following are the most common complaints:
1. your religion was once, or is now, considered a cult so you shouldn’t call Obama’s followers a cult.
2. Bush, Reagan and others used religious rhetoric or appealed to the religiosity of their party, so what Obama is doing is nothing new.
3. Obama is not using, appealing to, or becoming anything remotely religious.
3. We’ll start with the last one first because it is the easiest. Obamamessiah.blogspot.com has done an incredible job of drawing out the pseudo-religious elements of the Obama campaign from all available press reports. You can’t read the too-numerous-to-count articles and not see it.
For dems who already have religion, Obama simply appeals to their religiosity. We don’t have a problem with this. As Justin and Ben pointed out, this is no different than what Republicans have done with the religious right for years.
Where things get a little sketchy is when Obama veers into becoming the religion. Democrats tend to be less religious than Republicans. But this does not mean that these people don’t seek something to fill that gap. For many Democrats, that gap is filled by politics. This explains, in part, how personally the DailyKos kids and Huffington Post crowd take their politics. It explains why they tend to be more fixated on the candidate than they are on the candidate’s policies and politics. For them, Obama doesn’t just appeal to religious rhetoric in the way that Reagan or Bush or even Huckabee did and do, he has become the leader of their religion.
Hope and change are their foundational religious principles. Adherence to the gospel of environmentalism, nanny-state entitlements and regulations, civil liberties, anti-Iraq, etc., are the required bylaws. And Obama is the charismatic leader. People faint when he speaks, try to touch him when he passes by, and shout “I love you” when there’s silence (this is just a small sampling). Obama is Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, Nelson Mandela, and FDR all rolled into one. If not a messiah, at least a political messiah–a messiah for the rest of us, if you will.
2. Can we help it if Democrats are more susceptible to cults of personality? Ben and Justin and MJ derided Republicans for how little love we have for our candidate. We think this is a good thing. We’re only interested in a politician to the extent that their politics match ours. We didn’t love GW in 2000 and we didn’t love Reagan until long after the end of his presidency. Democrats loved FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton, and now, Barack Obama. They love to love their leaders. We don’t.
Since the rise of the religious right in conservative politics, Republican candidates have used rhetoric and adopted policies to appeal to these voters for their support and votes. Liberals have accused Republicans for years of trying to set up some sort of theocracy. Whatever. Values voters may have wanted to stop abortion and gay marriage, but they never wanted to run the government.
Enter Obama. Irreligious or anti-religious democrats have replaced religion with secularism. It may not have an omnipotent/omniscient being in charge, but like any other religion, it has its tenets (mentioned above, environmentalism, etc.), language (political correct speech), and now it has its charismatic leader. The left has always worshipped at the fountain of youth, so Barack is the perfect blank canvass. Barack isn’t all-knowing, but progressive liberalism certainly knows better.
Barack Obama has become the charismatic leader of his pseudo religion. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush appealed to conservatives’ already held religious beliefs. Even Mike Huckabee only set himself up as a religious leader, never The Religious Leader.
1. Disparagers of Mormon history and Joseph Smith can rightfully call the early movement part cult of personality–right, not because they are correct, but because they have the right to be wrong.
Whatever anyone thinks of the LDS religion then or now (cult or otherwise), the fact that we or anyone else happen to be members of or affiliated to some organization that others might consider a cult does not take away our right to identify elements of personality cults in other movements.
We aren’t voting for the LDS church to take over the leadership of the United States. Mitt Romney didn’t set himself up as the leader of a religious-like movement. He was satisfied to run for President.
Obviously, this phenomenon that has sprung up around Obama is not the sum of the man. We freely admit that he is intelligent, articulate, and an inspiring speaker. We won’t use the hyperbole of Spikers in yesterday’s comments, mostly because it is still way early in the game. We believe that once Obama’s policies are fleshed out (as, eventually they will be), he will prove to be an old style liberal cloaked in the attractive apparel of a charismatic. There’s nothing wrong with that if you like charismatic, old school liberals. Think, Jimmy Carter with personality.
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