Obama Cites Sermon on the Mount for his Support of Civil Unions

From Christianity Today “If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.”
Sarah Pulliam

Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama invoked the Sermon on the Mount as a reason for why he supports civil unions during an appearance in Nelsonville, Ohio, on Sunday.

The response came after Pastor Leon Forte, who heads up Grace Christian Center in Athens, Ohio, asked about Obama’s faith. The video is available here and the full transcript is available here.

“Your campaign sets a quandary for most evangelical Christians,” Forte said. “They believe in the social agenda that you have. They have a problem with what the conservatives have laid out as the moral litmus test about who is worthy and who is not.”

Obama responded by saying he is a devout Christian, he prays to Jesus every night and tries to go to church as much as he can.

“I think what you may be referring to, though, when you say controversies, probably has more to do with two issues, which is abortion and gay marriage, which has become, I think, how people measure faith in the evangelical community.”

Obama said that while he does not believe in gay marriage, he does think the state should allow civil unions that allow a same-sex couples to visit each other in a hospital or transfer property to each other.

“If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans,” Obama said.

He called abortion a tragic and painful issue.

“But I think that … in the end I think women, in consultation with their pastors, and their doctors, and their family, are in a better position to make these decisions than some bureaucrat in Washington.”

Obama ended: “That’s my view. Again, I respect people who may disagree, but I certainly don’t think it makes me less Christian. Okay.”

Obama also cited the Sermon on the Mount in his June 28, 2006, ‘Call to Renewal’ address.

“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.”

Obama also spoke with CT about abortion in a January interview.

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It’s just too good to not include: U.S. officials: CIA kills top al Qaeda terrorist in Pakistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Abu Laith al-Libi, a wanted al Qaeda terrorist, was killed in Pakistan by a CIA airstrike, three U.S. officials told CNN Thursday.

Al-Libi was described as a senior al Qaeda leader believed to have plotted and executed attacks against U.S. and coalition forces, including a February 2007 bombing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney.

He was on a “most wanted” list of 12 accused terrorists which was issued in October by the Combined Joint Task Force-82 — an anti-terror unit in Afghanistan.

Earlier, a knowledgeable Western official and a military source confirmed al-Libi’s death to CNN. The same official said al-Libi is “not far below the importance of the top two al Qaeda leaders” — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The officials said al-Libi was killed by a missile from an airplane.

Radical Islamist Web sites announced al-Libi’s death.

“May God have mercy on Sheikh Abu Laith al-Libi and accept him with his brothers, with the martyrs,” said a eulogy posted on a main Islamist site, Al-Ekhlaas.

Al-Libi, 41, was of Libyan descent and was believed to have been in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, according to the U.S. military.

A U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN he was a significant, senior al Qaeda figure who had taken on a more prominent role in the organization in recent years. This official also confirmed that al-Libi was responsible for plotting attacks targeting U.S. and coalition forces as well as Afghan officials. Video Watch senior Arab affairs editor Octavia Nasr detail al-Libi’s significance »

In an earlier role, he was a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which eventually merged with al Qaeda, the counterterrorism official said, and was responsible for planning attacks throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The official described al-Libi as part of al Qaeda’s inner circle, who helped fill the void created by the capture or death of other senior people in the organization.

A U.S. military official with Combined Joint Task Force-82 said they have no information on al-Libi’s death. But he added that CJTF-82 does not collect information from outside of Afghanistan, and would be informed of targeted operations only “if the Pakistani military share(s) that with us.”

The Pakistani military said an explosion occurred in North Waziristan on Tuesday, and 12 people were killed. However, it was unclear whether this was the incident in which al-Libi was killed. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN it was not clear who attacked whom and that he could not comment on the identities of the dead since local al Qaeda and Taliban affiliates removed the bodies and buried them.

The U.S. military placed al-Libi on its most wanted list in 2006, behind bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. In October, they announced rewards ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 for al-Libi and 11 other mid-level Taliban and al Qaeda leaders.

At that time, the military distributed posters and billboards with pictures and names of the insurgents around eastern Afghanistan.

Al-Libi and the others were described at the time by CJTF-82 spokesman Maj. Chris Belcher as “mid-level bad guys.”

He appeared in a 2002 audio recording posted on an Islamist Web site, saying al Qaeda had regrouped and intended to expand its war to include assassinations and attacks against infrastructure.

He also appeared in a 2004 video that showed him participating in an attack on an Afghan army base.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement saying al-Libi’s reported death would be “a positive development” in efforts against terrorism.

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“Intelligence points to, and his [al-Libi’s] increasing role in al Qaeda propaganda suggests, that he would have been a top field commander and planner for al Qaeda,” Hoekstra said. “His death, if confirmed, clearly will have an impact on the radical jihadist movement.”

He said that through the committee, he would monitor the effects on al Qaeda operations. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Location change to today’s Straw Poll

10:30 today at the Forge Inn

1002 Rt. 9 North

Woodbridge, NJ

$20.00 at the door registration

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Know The Facts: Huckabee On Taxes

The Résumé Factor: Those 8 Years as First Lady

Aaah those unique qualifications of Hillary… let’s take a look shall we?

Here’s an interesting and surprising read in today’s NY Times

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As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton jaw-boned the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan to leave his car and shake hands with people. She argued with the Czech prime minister about democracy. She cajoled Roman Catholic and Protestant women to talk to one another in Northern Ireland. She traveled to 79 countries in total, little of it leisure; one meeting with mutilated Rwandan refugees so unsettled her that she threw up afterward.

But during those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Mrs. Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal sizzled.

In seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton lays claim to two traits nearly every day: strength and experience. But as the junior senator from New York, she has few significant legislative accomplishments to her name. She has cast herself, instead, as a first lady like no other: a full partner to her husband in his administration, and, she says, all the stronger and more experienced for her “eight years with a front-row seat on history.”

Her rivals scoff at the idea that her background gives her any special qualifications for the presidency. Senator Barack Obama has especially questioned “what experiences she’s claiming” as first lady, noting that the job is not the same as being a cabinet member, much less president.

And late last week, Mr. Obama suggested that more foreign policy experts from the Clinton administration were supporting his candidacy than hers; his campaign released a list naming about 45 of them, and said that others were not ready to go public. Mrs. Clinton quickly put out a list of 80 who were supporting her, and plans to release another 75 names on Wednesday.

Mrs. Clinton’s role in her most high-profile assignment as first lady, the failed health care initiative of the early 1990s, has been well documented. Yet little has been made public about her involvement in foreign policy and national security as first lady. Documents about her work remain classified at the National Archives. Mrs. Clinton has declined to divulge the private advice she gave her husband.

An interview with Mrs. Clinton, conversations with 35 Clinton administration officials and a review of books about her White House years suggest that she was more of a sounding board than a policy maker, who learned through osmosis rather than decision-making, and who grew gradually more comfortable with the use of military power.

Her time in the White House was a period of transition in foreign policy and national security, with the cold war over and the threat of Islamic terrorism still emerging. As a result, while in the White House, she was never fully a part of either the old school that had been focused on the Soviet Union and the possibility of nuclear war or the more recent strain of national security thinking defined by issues like nonstate threats and the proliferation of nuclear technology.

Associates from that time said that she was aware of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and what her husband has in recent years characterized as his intense focus on them, but that she made no aggressive independent effort to shape policy or gather information about the threat of terrorism.

She did not wrestle directly with many of the other challenges the next president will face, including managing a large-scale deployment — or withdrawal — of troops abroad, an overhaul of the intelligence agencies or the effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Most of her exposure to the military has come since she left the White House through her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

When it came to the regional conflicts in the Balkans, she, along with many officials, was cautious at first about supporting American military intervention, though she later backed air strikes against the Serbs and the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

Her role mostly involved what diplomats call “soft power” — converting cold war foes into friends, supporting nonprofit work and good-will endeavors, and pressing her agenda on women’s rights, human trafficking and the expanded use of microcredits, tiny loans to help individuals in poor countries start small businesses.

Asked to name three major foreign policy decisions where she played a decisive role as first lady, Mrs. Clinton responded in generalities more than specifics, describing her strategic roles on trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, India, Africa and Latin America.

Asked to cite a significant foreign policy object lesson from the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton also replied with broad observations. “There are a lot of them,” she said. “The whole unfortunate experience we’ve had with the Bush administration, where they haven’t done what we’ve needed to do to reach out to the rest of the world, reinforces my experience in the 1990s that public diplomacy, showing respect and understanding of people’s different perspectives — it’s more likely to at least create the conditions where we can exercise our values and pursue our interests.”

Read the entire aticle here