The Religious Left at the White House

The National Council of Churches implores Obama to continue the socialist course.

On election eve, a large and prominent delegation from the National Council of Churches (NCC) visited with President Obama in the White House implicitly offering support.   The visitation eerily recalled a similar 1995 NCC visit to President Clinton to “pray” that he be “strong for the task” of resisting the then new Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress.  Only this time, the Religious Left seemingly  could not wait until AFTER the election and preemptively wanted to express their solidarity before the impending Republican electoral advance.

Whatever the intent, the NCC White House visitation likely had no influence on how its primarily Mainline Protestant constituency voted. A Pew poll showed white Mainline Protestants favoring Republicans by a 54-36 margin as of late October.  CNN’s exit poll showed that Protestants overall favored Republicans 59-38 percent.

According to a NCC account of the latest White House Religious Left summit, the church prelates thanked Obama for Obamacare and lamented that “political campaign rhetoric” had descended into “fear-mongering and divisiveness.”  By implication, the NCC concerns were aimed not at the President or his party but rather his critics.  “Without regard to the election the following day, our faithful witness is needed now more than ever,” explained NCC chief the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, as though their November 1 White House meeting were unrelated to  the November 2 mid-term referendum on the Obama Administration’s policies. “We cannot stand by while people of goodwill are baselessly attacked for their faith, their political beliefs, or their identity,” Kinnamon intoned.  “We have no reason to fear or demonize those who are different from ourselves.  Today, tomorrow, and into this next Congress, our country needs to come together and reclaim our values of justice and equality.”

The NCC has a long record of injecting itself politically into disputes between Presidents and the Congress.  Always, the NCC will side for Big Government against its skeptics, while bemoaning the supposed “fear-mongering” of conservatives.  In November 1995, during a budget showdown with the new Republican majority, the NCC helpfully stopped by Bill Clinton’s White House, where they “laid hands” on the man they hailed as “guardian of the nation.”  The NCC acclaimed Clinton for ostensibly protecting the “vulnerable, children, families, and the elderly” from Republican budget proposals.  Days earlier, the NCC’s board had declared itself “deeply offended” over “appalling” congressional efforts to balance the budget at the expense of “moral vision.”

Undoubtedly, the recent NCC White House visit was just a warm up for similar critiques of another, more recent Republican Congress. Only in 1995, the NCC claimed to speak for 50 million American church members. Now, its claims are down to 40 million or so, as the Religious Left’s continues to asphyxiate its churches with its spiritually suffocating substitution of Big Government for the Gospel.     “As a faith community, we have a moral obligation to speak out for the ‘least of these’ and urge Congress and President Obama to make combating poverty and hunger a top priority,” explained one NCC prelate.  But purported concerns about the poor conveniently did not exclude the NCC White House visitors from pressing Obama about “Middle East peace” and lifting sanctions against communist Cuba.  They also raised “climate change” and “immigration reform.”  The NCC’s preferred brew of Global Warming regulation of course would kill jobs and breed further poverty.  And the NCC’s advocacy of amnesty and more liberalized immigration would hurt America’s unemployed and working poor the most.  But the Religious Left, faith in statist ideology always prevails over more pragmatic concerns for the vulnerable.

NCC President Meg Chemberlin explained to reporters afterwards that the NCC wanted to “encourage” President Obama, many of whose “values are shared by the faith community.”  Creditably, she at least cited religious liberty for Christians in the Middle East.  Kinnamon added that the NCC was at the White House not as a “political coalition” but a “faith based community.”  He asserted their meeting the day before  the election was purely coincidental.  “That’s not the kind of organization we are,” he claimed.  But Kinnamon said the NCC is concerned that the “vituperation” of ugly campaign rhetoric shows a lack of “love of neighbor” in America.    And he said they were at the White House not as “political colleagues” but as “spiritual leaders” on a “pastoral” mission  Another NCC delegation  official reassuringly emphasized:  “It’s important to know that this President is attuned to the American people intimately and is very about the well being of the country and its people.”  One other prelate, during the Obama meeting, cited Scripture against"disorder and wickedness" as they related to  the political campaign.

Fifteen years ago, then NCC President United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert defended the NCC’s support of Clinton’s policies and opposition to  the Republican Congress.  “As a welfare state, one thing we have prided ourselves on is working toward the common good of all,” Talbert chimed.  “Taxation is a way of doing that,” he explained while blasting tax cut advocates for materialistically wanting “to put more money in your pocket.”   This time, the NCC is not yet quite so explicit in its unvarnished statism.  With perhaps a little more obfuscation this time, the NCC still seems determined to side with Big Government and paint its critics as enemies of true faith.