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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

Obama's "Candidate" Speech--the Evidence

Sunday, March 02, 2008

By Pastor Ted Weis, Congregational Church, Little River, KS

An earlier post at UCCtruths said that Barack Obama's speech at General Synod 26 was no doubt a political speech.

So what is the evidence? Did Obama present himself as a candidate or a non-candidate? Go back and re-read Obama's speech.

First, Obama wasted no time telling the audience that he was running for President. In the first sentence of his second paragraph, Obama received cheers from the crowd when he declared:

It's been several months now since I announced I was running for president.
And in the 20th paragraph, Obama promised:

I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president...
So right at the start, and in the middle of his speech, Obama makes it clear: He's not a non-candidate. He's a candidate.

One could argue that Obama spoke of his work as a US Senator, not as a candidate. But in declaring himself a candidate, how does one deny that his take on the issues doesn't represent his presidential values? When Obama said he was a candidate, his whole speech became a candidate speech.

So how many issues did candidate Obama touch on? No less than 12. From the speech, "A Politics of Conscience":

Iraq War--Health Care Crisis--School Systems

It's that folks are hungry for change – they're hungry for something new. They're ready to turn the page on the old politics and the old policies – whether it's the war in Iraq or the health care crisis we're in, or a school system that's leaving too many kids behind despite the slogans.
Poverty--Earned Income Tax Credit--Minimum wage

That's why I've been fighting to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the minimum wage. If you're working forty hours a week, you shouldn't be living in poverty.
Health Care

Our conscience cannot rest so long as nearly 45 million Americans don't have health insurance and the millions more who do are going bankrupt trying to pay for it. I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premiums by up to $2500 a year. That's not simply a matter of policy or ideology – it's a moral commitment.
Genocide in Darfur

And until we stop the genocide that's being carried out in Darfur as I speak, our conscience cannot rest. This is a problem that's brought together churches and synagogues and mosques and people of all faiths as part of a grassroots movement. Universities and states, including Illinois, are taking part in a divestment campaign to pressure the Sudanese government to stop the killings. It's not enough, but it's helping. And it's a testament to what we can achieve when good people with strong convictions stand up for their beliefs.
Guantanamo Bay--Torture of Enemies

And we should close Guantanamo Bay and stop tolerating the torture of our enemies. Because it's not who we are. It's not consistent with our traditions of justice and fairness. And it offends our conscience.
Iraq War

But we also know our conscience cannot rest so long as the war goes on in Iraq. It's a war I'm proud I opposed from the start – a war that should never have been authorized and never been waged. I have a plan that would have already begun redeploying our troops with the goal of bringing all our combat brigades home by March 31st of next year. The President vetoed a similar plan, but he doesn't have the last word, and we're going to keep at it, until we bring this war to an end. Because the Iraq war is not just a security problem, it's a moral problem.
Undocumented immigrants

Today there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in America, most of them working in our communities, attending our churches, and contributing to our country.

Now, as children of God, we believe in the worth and dignity of every human being; it doesn't matter where that person came from or what documents they have. We believe that everyone, everywhere should be loved, and given the chance to work, and raise a family.

But as Americans, we also know that this is a nation of laws, and we cannot have those laws broken when more than 2,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. We cannot ignore that we have a right and a duty to protect our borders. And we cannot ignore the very real concerns of Americans who are not worried about illegal immigration because they are racist or xenophobic, but because they fear it will result in lower wages when they're already struggling to raise their families.
Poverty--Racism--Environment--Life Issues

I'm hearing from evangelicals who may not agree with progressives on every issue but agree that poverty has no place in a world of plenty; that hate has no place in the hearts of believers; and that we all have to be good stewards of God's creations... God is still speaking... to our Catholic friends – who are holding up a consistent ethic of life that goes beyond abortion – one that includes a respect for life and dignity whether it's in Iraq, in poor neighborhoods, in African villages or even on death row.
Then, there's the ethos part of the speech-- where listeners hear and decide if the values and decision making process of the candidate matches their expectations. About half of the speech could be described as this. Obama's stirring conclusion provides an example:

We can affirm our faith without endangering the separation of church and state, as long as we understand that when we're in the public square, we have to speak in universal terms that everyone can understand. And if we can do that – if we can embrace a common destiny – then I believe we'll not just help bring about a more hopeful day in America, we'll not just be caring for our own souls, we'll be doing God's work here on Earth.
Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn warns that church organizations take great risks whenever they invite politicians to speak. Candidates can say whatever they want and churches face all the consequences.

The evidence shows that Obama certainly did his part to create the mess facing the UCC.

But the UCC didn't do itself any favors either.

It promoted Obama's speech as the "first major address on faith and politics as presidential candidate." UCC.org still has up the video and text of the speech. And, not shooing off Obama's campaign workers from the civic hall didn't help matters.

Hartford talk show host and Courant columnist Colin McEnroe claims:

The UCC was... carefully monitoring Obama's speech and was prepared, according to a UCC official on my show this week, to cut his sound if he got too political or broke any other rules.
Too bad they didn't pull the plug.
posted by Living the Biblios, Sunday, March 02, 2008

10 Comments:

that's fine well and good.. but the real question that undergirds this whole thing is "why?"

why now, why obama, why UCC and why hasn't anyone else been investigated on these terms? romney spoke at a few mormon temples, including the famous silver spring MD temple and mentioned all the stuff he'd do... soo... why no investigation there?

UCC signed Obama before he was a candidate, you think that would matter?
commented by Blogger Luke, 12:08 AM  
look, if people want to file complaints about romney, let them.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 7:59 AM  
This is really simple from someone who is on the board of a 501(C) corp. You can take the tax benefits and follow the pretty simple rules or not. If you want to have a political rally rent a hall down the street, or invite all the candidates. As IRS regulations go this is pretty simple. The idea is to prevent tax exempt charitable donations to the church from being a front for non-exempt political donations.

This was deliberately done to create an issue by the UCC leadership, and reap the consequential publicity.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:32 AM  
The answer to "why" is simply that someone filed a complaint with the IRS. I could be wrong, but I don't think the IRS actively searches out non-profits that they can threaten with removal of their 501 (c)(3) status. The complaint was filed, it went through the IRS red tape process, and now it's out. Bottom line, the IRS is just doing its job.
commented by Blogger Living the Biblios, 9:46 AM  
In the eyes of the law, the fact Obama was invited by the UCC before he was a candidate doesn't matter. If it did, then a big loop hole exists!

Non-candidates could be invited, then declare their candidacy, and that way get around the current rules.

Non-profits aren't allowed to have politicians speak as candidates just because their invitation was made when the politician was a non-candidate.

If this case, when Obama declared his candidacy, both the UCC and Obama should have taken great care to insure that he spoke under the terms of the new reality-- he's now a candidate.
commented by Blogger Living the Biblios, 10:06 AM  
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-commentarycrabtree0302.artmar02,0,2026115.story says,

"To avoid any hint of endorsement or promotion, our national officers and our denominational attorney established clear understandings with Sen. Obama's office in Washington. He readily agreed to all of them. We made it clear not only to his campaign staff but also to our own synod delegates and visitors that no advocacy or promotion of his candidacy would be permitted. Needless to say, we could not control the use of public sidewalks by representatives of any campaign."

It sounds like Obama and his people broke their word to Obama's own church. I also read the speech and it does mention "President" explicitly twice, and other issues related to Obama's candidacy.
commented by Blogger Winged Hussar 1683, 6:06 PM  
Again, since people aren't listening. The UCC could not "shoo off" Obama campaign workers from a public sidewalk. They were allowed there by the city and the Civic Center, not the UCC.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2:49 PM  
But this isn't about the UCC. This is about Obama. As it seems some of the gist of the proposed speech was to be about the possibility of maintaining ethics whilst working in politics in Washington DC I'd say the behaviour of Obama has more or less been a silent but eloquent contribution.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 6:00 AM  
Mormon Temples are closed to the public. How would someone who is not LDS possibly know what Mitt Romney might have said in one of the Temples??

In any case, I doubt very much that Mormon Temples are ever used for politics.

And no, I'm not Mormon.
commented by Blogger Presbyman, 5:51 PM  
This whole thing is just silly. White politicians have been parading themselves into black churches for decades and all of a sudden this is a problem. The christian right has used the pulpit to push political agendas and candidates for years.
Hillary and the media can stop trying to stir the pot on this one. Sean Hannity and Fox News can stop trying to stir the pot on this one. It doesn't appear that the American people are going to give the Republicans the pleasure of running against and thoroughly defating Hillary in November. Too bad!
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2:33 AM  

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