As I noted in the first post in this series, the complex weave of faith, prayer, and politics in American public life is a strong index of the degree to which democracy and religion and the interconnection between the two are at the core of American culture. In his remarks at National Prayer Breakfast, an iconic event in this sense, Barack Obama rejoices in the fact:
I'm here for the same reason that all of you are, for we all share a recognition -- one as old as time -- that a willingness to believe, an openness to grace, a commitment to prayer can bring sustenance to our lives.
The President tells a story in illustration of the interconnection:
Last month, God's grace, God's mercy, seemed far away from our neighbors in Haiti. And yet I believe that grace was not absent in the midst of tragedy. It was heard in prayers and hymns that broke the silence of an earthquake's wake. It was witnessed among parishioners of churches that stood no more, a roadside congregation, holding Bibles in their laps. It was felt in the presence of relief workers and medics; translators; servicemen and women, bringing water and food and aid to the injured.
One such translator was an American of Haitian descent, representative of the extraordinary work that our men and women in uniform do all around the world -- Navy Corpsman Christopher Brossard. And lying on a gurney aboard the USNS Comfort, a woman asked Christopher: "Where do you come from? What country? After my operation," she said, "I will pray for that country." And in Creole, Corpsman Brossard responded, "Etazini." The United States of America.
Evangelicals will do well to notice how the President of the United States showcases their witness over and over again. This is not, I believe, just a political gesture. It is a sincere acknowledgment.
One of my favorite lines In Obama’s remarks::
Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship. (Laughter and applause.)
The birthers on the Right and the truthers on the Left are a plague on public discourse. The demonizers in our world, and they are legion, sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. But there is another way. There is some hope for the future so long as demonizers do not have the upper hand.