The Irony of Barack Obama

A large segment of the American electorate may believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, but two Saint Anselm College professors argue that the president is not only a Christian, but one whose leadership is guided by his faith.

In their new book, The Irony of Barack Obama, professors Ward Holder, a theologian, and Peter Josephson, a political scientist, say that Obama is deeply influenced by the Christian political thinker, Reihnhold Niebuhr. Holder calls Niebuhr the greatest 20th century American theologian, while Josephson says he is a political theorist who is unusual for being both critical of and devoted to American democracy.

Niebuhr understands the tension between Christian biblical teachings and the demands of governing. This balance of faith and politics, of Christian pragmatism and progressiveness, can be identified in everything from Obama’s foreign policy to his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and his stand on gay marriage, the professors say.

It is thus ironic that Barack Obama is the favored candidate of the secular left, say the professors, while Mitt Romney has the support of Evangelical Christians. And while Romney declares that faith will have nothing to do with his governance, Obama talks about how Christianity guides his presidency.