Barack Obama met with Christian leaders, including Bishop T. D. Jakes, Rich Cizik (vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals), Rev. Franklin Graham and others.
Graham, son of Billy Graham, found the senator "impressive" and "warm".
Cizik said the issues discussed Tuesday included "protecting the traditional family, same-sex marriage, gay rights, religious freedom, genocide, poverty and hunger in America, and how we might even improve America's standing in the world."
He said he told Obama: "Religious Americans want to know why is it you love this country and what it stands for and how we can make it better."
Cizik said participants agreed not to give specifics of Obama's responses to their questions, but that "there was nothing softball about this meeting and that's the way he said he wanted it."
Cizik also stresses that this was not a meeting of people endorsing Obama, just a learning experience, I guess.
You know, its OK to be religious and support Obama. Christianity is, in spite of what some think, and in spite of how the media often portrays it, made up of a diverse group of beliefs and followers, and Barack Obama is, a Christian.
It is not like the United Church of Christ is way out there or anything. It is considered a "mainline Protestant denomination" with about 1.2 million members . Surveys show that some of their congregations are very progressive, some are very conservative and most are middle of the road. Their beliefs and practices are certainly no more controversial than, say, the Catholics (who previously had denied one of the attendees at Obama's meeting communion because he has endorsed Obama) or Southern Baptists (who are still struggling with how to suppress women..."To consider churches with women senior pastors to not be "in friendly cooperation" with the denomination" is a proposal they are considering for next years convention. Plus there's that whole "submit graciously" thing).
Anyway, United Church of Christ began a campaign a few years ago, based on the quote "Never place a period where God has placed a comma" meaning God is still speaking. Remember this ad that was banned from some tv networks:
The "Bouncers" ad allowed the white, straight (appearing) couple and their children into church, but denied the African American, the gay couple, the disabled and the Latino entrance. Then it shows the text "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."
They followed this with the "Ejector Seat" ad, in which certain people are "ejected" from church and states "God doesn't reject people. Neither do we. The United Church of Christ: No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here."
This is not an endorsement of the United Church of Christ, rather a suggestion that all Christians seek an understanding of God's inclusiveness and reject the exclusionary policies that many churches practice. After all, it is kind of ridiculous to believe in God's creation but to place higher value on those members of creation that are just like oneself and a lesser value on those who are different. But that is exactly what sexism, racism and homophobia practiced by some churches are doing.
No wonder membership is down among most denominations. American people are more interested in uniting around stopping genocide and war, enviromental issues, and human rights than in the divisive messages we hear from some church leaders. Start doing something that really helps the world and your membership might grow.
Oh, and vote for Obama.