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Obama’s ‘common ground’ façade

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–President Barack Obama ran and was elected on the promise of a new tone in Washington — rejecting the old partisan ways and ushering in a new post-partisan era where “common ground” would be sought among long-warring factions of the body politic.

The new tone he promised for the nation’s capital was a key component of the “change” agenda Obama would bring to the White House.

Less than two months into his historic presidency, where’s the common ground?

Especially on grave matters of the “culture war” in America and its two most incendiary issues of abortion and “gay rights,” Obama’s administration, after only a brief period through high-level appointments and new policies, has done very little to seek common ground with pro-life, pro-family citizens while systematically advancing the pro-abortion, anti-family agenda of the hard left-wing of his party.

This is not the kind of change I can believe in, nor is it the change most evangelicals desire, contrary to the small but media-saturated group of evangelical apologists who seem to express little, if any, concern about the onslaught being perpetrated in the early Obama era.

One of the few actions of the president on the culture front that has offered something of an olive branch to conservative Christians is Obama’s establishment of his Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that included a few evangelicals, most notably, former Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page and Orlando evangelical pastor Joel Hunter.

Liberals were distressed that the council was not immediately mandated to eliminate the predecessor Bush panel’s rule permitting religious organizations receiving government aide to be able to hire according to their doctrinal beliefs. There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical, however, with the efficacy of this council and its patina of conservative, evangelical participation, as well as whether the hiring policy will withstand the Obama team’s scrutiny.

Even assuming the best of Obama’s motives and potential outcome of the faith-based council should not cause evangelicals to take comfort in the president’s moral agenda.

Indeed, in just a few short weeks Obama has moved swiftly to remove pro-life, pro-family policies and install anti-life, anti-family appointees. Especially in the area of sanctity of human life and abortion, Obama is quickly fulfilling the fears of many of us that he will be America’s most pro-abortion president.

Consider the evidence:

— Funding for international abortions. Only three days after his inauguration, Obama overturned the Bush policy forbidding federal funds for the United Nations Population Fund and its pro-abortion “family planning” agenda, which includes coercive abortions in China.

Pro-lifers were supposed to take comfort that Obama had the decency to not reverse the policy on the anniversary of the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand across American. No, he waited until the day after. Now, that’s seeking common ground!

— Repealing conscience protection for health-care workers. Implemented only late last year after years of study found poor application of laws protecting the consciences of health-care workers who do not wish to participate in the immoral practice of abortion, a new rule repealing the conscience protection was announced in the Federal Register late last month by the Obama administration. After the 30-day comment period, currently active, it is widely anticipated the Obama administration will scuttle the conscience protection altogether under pressure from pro-abortion lobbyists who argue the rule is harming the availability of abortion. Some common ground. Even Joel Hunter has expressed concerns about this policy change.

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary nominee. After his first choice, former Sen. Tom Daschle, withdrew because of tax issues, Obama nominated Sebelius, one of the most pro-abortion governors in the nation. The Kansas governor has vetoed bills regulating abortion clinics, requiring parental involvement in abortion, informed consent and limits on late-term abortions, and opposed efforts to protect infants born alive by abortion (a notorious position she shares with Obama himself).

Most incredibly, Sebelius also has hosted a reception for America’s evil late-term abortionist George Tiller, who currently faces criminal charges for his abortion practice.

Evangelical apologists for Obama, including Joel Hunter, have come to his defense on Sabelius, arguing she is a “person of deep faith” and has seen the abortion rate drop during her tenure. LifeNews.com, however, notes that the head of Kansans for Life Mary Kay Culp insisted the suggestion Sabelius has worked to reduce abortion “is purposely deceptive and insulting given her long and extreme pro-abortion record.”

Common ground with the most pro-abortion governor running the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services?

— Embryonic stem cell funding. The latest anti-life assault on abortion came March 9 when Obama lifted the Bush ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research — even in the face of increasing evidence that ethically permissible adult stem cells are showing the most promise in treating those suffering from 70 diseases and conditions.

Common ground while your and my tax dollars fund the destruction of human beings in their first stages of life? Remember, we all started out as embryos.

— Porn lawyer as number two Justice Department official. Obama selected as deputy attorney general of the United States David Ogden, a notorious defender of the pornography industry who also has sought repeal of the military’s policy against openly homosexual soldiers, and filed a brief seeking repeal of the federal ban on abortion funding.

Obama also nominated anti-family attorneys Thomas Perrilli, a member of the legal team that helped to starve to death Terri Schiavo, as assistant attorney general, and Elena Kagan, a pro-“gay rights” and abortion attorney, as solicitor general of the United States.

No common ground, it seems, with pro-family citizens when it comes to laws defending the most helpless in our society and laws defending common-sense morality.

Interestingly, it’s not just right-wing evangelicals like me concerned about moral issues who have noticed the Obama radical policy agenda is not matching the post-partisan, common ground rhetoric the president’s campaign promised. Some moderates who had great hopes for Obama have expressed serious reservations in the wake of the president’s $3.6 trillion federal budget proposal.

“Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was,” New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote on March 3. “His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.”

Michael Gerson, George W. Bush’s campaign and presidential speechwriter who coined the phrase “compassionate conservative” as an advocate of a vigorous role for the government in solving problems, also is disillusioned with Obama.

Writing in his Washington Post column on March 4, Gerson called Obama’s budget “ideologically ambitious, politically ruthless and radical to its core.”

Gerson concluded, “On economic policy, the post-partisan could hardly be more partisan. Obama does not want to cultivate conservatives; he wants to crush them. And that is a revelation.”

Indeed, Obama wants to crush conservatives across a wide array of policy issues, including, most tragically, policies that defend innocent human life and the family.

The Obama agenda, contrary to rhetoric, does not seek common ground with citizens who deeply oppose the violation of the sanctity of human life and traditional values. Rhetoric about common ground may be pleasing to a few evangelicals, but the rest of us aren’t fooled. We see the evidence and are convinced this president’s rhetoric is merely a façade covering an agenda we must vigorously oppose.
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.floridabaptistwitness.com), newspaper of the Florida Baptist State Convention.

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