As usual, last night, Keith Olbermann saved the best for last! After some talk of dueling debt and Murdoch’s degrees of devilment, the topic turned to the president’s religion. The Current anchor reported that 38% (in a recent poll) thought President Obama was Christian, 18% thought he was Muslim, and 4% thought he was Catholic. (Of course, a Catholic is a Christian, but who is polling?) Keith was shocked and asked Countdown contributor and comedienne, Maysoon Zayid, if he had missed something. He really wanted to know why people would think such a thing, adding that there was not anything wrong with it. Maysoon, of The Muslims are Coming fame, was quick-witted in her responses. She proffered that people simply get Christian and Catholic mixed up. (See poll.) I recall doing that myself when I was younger. She added the wisdom that, “People are attracted to someone like them.” And finally, she mentioned that telling one’s religion when required can even be quite dangerous. I agree.
Keith understood how in the climate of the sixties, some might question a Catholic president. Some might fear that he would be “loyal to the pope” instead of the nation. However, consider that there was only that one Catholic president, and then consider his fate. It might be guilt by association, but could that 4% be thinking along those lines? Olbermann said that religion matters to voters, and that 56% think it is important. The large group that believes he is Christian is right (maybe left, but right). We all recall what they did to Christians. Granted, lions are in shorter supply now, but it is food for thought. The 18% who think he is Muslim probably have an agenda. It has nothing to do with religion. The tragedy in Norway that Keith also reported on last night, speaks to the unfounded fear of multiculturalism.
I know President Obama is not Catholic, but he is “other” to some. We know that war and hate are driven by seeing someone else as other. In his own speech last night, the leader mentioned a balanced approach, asking everyone to give some, sharing the burden and I wonder why we still have to insist on everyone seeing something our way. Though the pledge says, “one nation under God,” is it really one? Even though he just reminded us that we are one, and many great philosophers and religious teachers have considered that we are individual cells of the same universal creature, many do not truly believe that out of many, we are one. (I won’t begin to preach here on the Body of Christ, either!) Some don’t like every race and every nation. We know that the government is dysfunctional because it reflects its collective consciousness. Thomas Jefferson himself was quoted as saying, “Every man cannot have his way in everything.” The Beatles said, “Come together.” But will we?
The millionaires and billionaires make up under five percent of the country. Yet, the other ninety-something percent are “the other” in this scenario. Keith pointed out that the pilgrims wanted their religious freedom, but not so much that of others. He commented on a presidential fact wheel he had as a youngster, that gave the religions of the country’s leaders. He was thrilled to find some were Unitarian, which was his faith at that time. He wondered about the feeling of belonging that is fostered, like being in a club. How about on a team…or being a fan? Everybody wants to belong! But not everybody gets the opportunity. Nor will they anytime soon. (Unless we can live up to being one.)
Barack Obama would make a great Catholic! The history of that church proves they are the starters of the health care system in America and the education system in America. Obama has the discipline and self-control that I never had in school. (The nuns checked off “needs attention” every time!) He understands mission, and appears to be mastering the best version of himself. He has confessed that he was a smoker. He admits to prayer. He is familiar with Scripture. Judging from his appearance, it looks like he knows about fasting. It is obvious that he loves his family and his neighbor. And perhaps his best qualification is that he is long-suffering. He understands crucifixion. But I digress.
Northern Sun, one of my favorite companies, has a poster that can be ordered online. It hangs in my bathroom and is often the highlight of excursions there by my guests. The poster is simply titled, The Religions and they gave me permission to define the religions of the world by quoting it here:
Taoism: Sh*t happens. Hinduism: This sh*t has happened before. Confucianism: Confucious say, “Sh*t happens.” Buddhism: It is only an illusion that sh*t happens. Zen: What is the sound of sh*t happening? Islam: If sh*t happens, it is the will of Allah. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Knock, Knock, “Sh*t happens.” Atheism: There is no such thing as sh*t. Agnosticism: Maybe sh*t happens, and maybe not. Protestantism: Sh*t won’t happen if I work harder. Catholicism: If sh*t happens, I deserve it. Judaism: Why does sh*t always happen to me? Televangelism: Send money or sh*t will happen. Rastafarian: Smoke that sh*t.
P.S. I noticed the Mormons were not included, but perhaps it is karma. They certainly are getting their fair share of publicity on Broadway. And Keith is one of their greatest supporters!