On February 4th, in the year of our Lords, 2014, President Barack Obama formally announced himself as the prophet of a new religion.
The president was, on that date, to be found addressing the faithful, who were assembled in Washington, DC, for the National Prayer Breakfast. He said then that, “No god condones terror,” and also that, “We have to speak up against those who would misuse His name”.
Noteworthy, of course, are the absolutist terms of the pronouncement: there exists NO god that condones terror. None. It is possible that there were once gods of this type, but if there were they are certainly dead by now. As to future gods which might appear and condone terror, it seems that this prophecy has some limits and must remain silent. One presumes, though, that such gods, if they did show up, would be bad gods and thus the rightful targets of firm disapproval from the now announced good gods. Woe, then, unto to the bad gods.
Obama did not make clear as to whether, in his intrepid researches into the views of all gods, he found that the resounding agreement amongst deities on the issue of terrorism had arisen as the result of timely coincidence or because of some limitation he had discerned, by reason or revelation, upon the power of gods as such. One is tempted to assume the latter, though, as elsewhere in his remarks he was comfortable judging religious acts everywhere and anywhere according to his new, sovereign and independent standard. “We see faith driving us to do right,” he observed, “but we also see faith being twisted and distorted. Used as a wedge or worse, sometimes used as a weapon”. Gods, it seems, cannot condone terrorism. This is one of the new meta-rules of Obama’s pantheon.
Some observers also noted the President’s move from speaking about all gods to speaking of just one god when recommending that the audience speak up against, “those who misuse His name”. There appears to be broader agreement amongst all gods than just that evinced by their shared attitude toward terror. No word yet, though, as to why the many gods who agree about so much have previously been so busy telling their respective followers to do and believe different things from each other. On a most exciting note, this might be because those gods had not yet been unified by the President’s insight.
The move also signaled a certain limit to be placed on the universal aspirations of the new religion, which speaks of all gods. That limitation, clearly, concerned action: the audience was to speak up only against those who misuse the name of the local god. Those who do terrible things in the name or names of other gods are to be spoken to more liberally.
Yet another move noted, this one having occurred over a much longer period of time, was that of the President himself, from the views he expressed prior to attaining prophethood to those expressed on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast (where it is made clear that just as there are no gods who condone terror, there are also no gods who condone an unhealthy start to the day).
In a 2004 interview done for the Chicago-Sun Times, Obama had expressed the following: “I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others. I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding. I think that, particularly as somebody who’s now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there’s an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.” While some critics have claimed that this is all logically incoherent and that it is clearly inconsistent with his new role as absolute and universal prophet, there is good reason to believe that the President remains in the right way. The most clearly absolute principle of his new religion is, after all, that no god can possess enough certainty about what is evil to condone terror in response to it.
Although Obama did not not define “terror”, he did provide some examples of it, notably the events at the “school in Pakistan”, those in the “streets of Paris” and the “rise of anti-semitism in Europe”. While most aspects of Obama’s new religion were compelling to his Democratic base, this point raised some eyebrows. The president’s teaching is unambiguously opposed to the view, popular in educated circles, that terror is a relative term and that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The eyebrows were then relaxed as the minds behind them realized that Obama had not only equivocated between Paris and Pakistan, but also condemned antisemitism by that name. Progressives are, of course, only comfortable with antisemitism in deed.
Some other audience members, these on the right-wing, were swayed by what Obama taught about terrorism. Convinced that it was actually a subtle dodge, whereby Obama could avoid defining terrorism as anything other than that-which-no-god-condones, thereby establishing a principle according to which violent and unilateral action can be taken against anything called “terror”, one group of so-called neo-conservatives immediately became neo-paleo-conservatives just before they abandoned conservatism altogether and became paleo-neo-liberals, neophytes of Obama’s uncertain yet absolute pantheon. Political Animal Magazine will continue to report on this religion as it is revealed.