Thursday, January 22, 2009

 

Was Obama Ever Baptized?

It's unclear. He was a church member, to be sure, but he was Moslem as a child and probably not baptized as an infant. Adult baptism is noticeable enough that one might expect it to be mentioned. It isn't important enough to him to rate mention in his autobiography, which does talk about his joining the UCC church of Pastor Wright in Chicago.

A blog post looks at some evidence. A newspaper said he was baptized, without offering any evidence, but that was probably just speculation by the reporter.

I wonder if Obama is the first unbaptized President? No- actually not. I don't think Quakers get baptized, though I might be wrong, and that would cut out Hoover and Nixon. January 22: As the weblog post I linked to above says, it's hard to find a credible statement that Obama was baptized. There are statements by reporters, but it looks as if they are just making that up, thinking that if he joined the church he must have been baptized, or confusing answering an altar call with baptism. It would be useful to actually look at his autobiography, though. Here's some more info:

Beliefnet

Obama has long been an active member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ and frequently attends services there. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, officiated at his wedding, baptized both his daughters, and dedicated his house.
Newsweek

He is now a Christian, having been baptized in the early 1990s at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. But rumors about Obama's religion persist. In the new NEWSWEEK Poll, 12 percent of voters incorrectly believe he's Muslim; more than a quarter believe he was raised in a Muslim home.

His baptism presents its own problems. The senior pastor at Trinity at the time of Obama's baptism was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., the preacher who was seen damning America on cable TV for weeks last spring—and will doubtless be seen again this fall. In the NEWSWEEK Poll, almost half of the respondents say Obama shares at least some of Wright's views; nearly a third say Wright might prevent them from voting for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

and

During his years in Indonesia, Obama went first to a Catholic school—and then to a public elementary school with a weekly class of religious education that reflected the dominant Muslim culture. He was raised, in part, by his stepfather, a man named Lolo, who "like many Indonesians … followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths," Obama wrote in "Dreams From My Father." "He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate." Lolo introduced young Obama to the taste of dog meat, snake meat and roasted grasshopper. In Indonesia, Obama has said, he saw women with and without head coverings and Muslims living comfortably next to Christians. He has said that his life among Muslims in Indonesia showed him that "Islam can be compatible with the modern world."
AND
He didn't officially join Trinity until several years later, when he returned to Chicago as a promising young lawyer intent on becoming a husband, a father and a professional success. Around the time Obama was baptized, he says he studied the Bible with gifted teachers who would "gently poke me about my faith."
Freerepublic says, without citation:
Nobody, except Obama knows if his conversion to Christianity is real or not. Although some reports and even Obama have referred to a "baptism", there doesn't appear to be any record of a baptism.

Chicago-based journalist, broadcaster and critic Andy Martin, when asked about Obama's baptism, wrote, "I have never been able to obtain any evidence that he was baptized, although I asked for those records."

It seems that Obama's conversion occurred when he answered one of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright's altar calls by walking down the aisle of Trinity Church to make a formal commitment of his faith.

I also found:
Mr. Obama was baptized that year, and joining Trinity helped him ''embrace the African-American community in a way that was whole and profound,'' said Ms. Soetoro, his half sister. (April 30, 2007 Monday A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith BYLINE: By JODI KANTOR)
A few years later, Obama returned to Chicago from Harvard Law School to be baptized at Trinity United Church of Christ, with a predominantly black congregation on the South Side led by Wright. Obama had come to realize, he wrote in his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," that the church "had to serve as the center of the community's political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life." He described his baptism not as an epiphany but as a conscious choice. (The Washington Post January 18, 2009 Sunday Obama 's Path to Faith Was Eclectic; President-Elect Will Reach Out to Diverse Set of Religious Leaders for Advice BYLINE: Eli Saslow;)

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