Good for Obama for casting such a wide and inclusive net. There is much sanctimony that needs to be purged from that "faith-based initiative". I would like to think it was his UU upbringing that reminded him to include humanists in his list of people of faith. However, if he really wants to persuade devout religious adherents of his sincerity, and avoid the kind of mistakes that damaged Howard Dean's credibility so badly among the faith-based crowd, he still needs to take more care to get his scriptural citations and source traditions right. Jesus didn't say, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" himself; he merely quoted it from Leviticus 19:18 (and Leviticus 19:34 corresponds to Jesus' corollary point that even the stranger is a neighbor). Similarly, the Torah doesn't command, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow"; that is a piece of human exegesis (not divine commandment) attributed to Rabbi Hillel in the Babylonian Talmud (at Shabbat 31a). Jesus' admonition at Matthew 7:12 (which Obama did not mention), "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," is believed by some to have been a paraphrase of Jesus' older contemporary Hillel.Presumably, the kind of broadminded, grace-filled faithful whom Obama would like to draw into the circle can easily forgive such scriptural trespasses in the spirit of his larger point which remains unaltered -- but perhaps not those who may already distrust him, who may feel possessive of the "faith-based initiative", and for at least some of whom their own scripture and tradition may be more sacrosanct than a spirit of forgiveness and generosity.
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