Guest / Limited Access /

WASHINGTON — In a 2006 speech here, then-Sen. Barack Obama said Jesus' Sermon on the Mount was so "radical" the Defense Department wouldn't survive its application. Earlier this month, the new president suggested the economy couldn't get along without it.

In the middle of a nuts-and-bolts speech at Georgetown University on economic policy, Obama overtly cited the sermon's parable of two men, one of whom builds his house on rock, the other on sand.  "We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand," the president said. "We must build our house upon a rock."

The reference to Jesus' most famous — and notoriously challenging — sermon quickly drew attention from the media, some of whom labeled the speech "Obama's Economic Sermon on the Mount."

Obama has referred to Jesus' mountainside sermon several times in recent years, sometimes using the same two-houses parable to make a point about sound government policy, at other times using the sermon's wider message of tolerance and love to defend his progressive interpretation of Christianity.

For instance, on the campaign trail last March, and in his book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama has cited the sermon to explain his support for same-sex civil unions.

"If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans," Obama said at a campaign event in Ohio when a local pastor asked him how he plans to win evangelical votes when he disagrees with many of them about same-sex unions.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul condemns homosexual acts as unnatural and "unseemly."

With its turn-the-other-cheek vibe, and "blessed are the peacemakers" Beatitudes, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedCan You See Too Much Jesus in the Bible?
Can You See Too Much Jesus in the Bible?
Why one seminary thinks so and is sending an Old Testament scholar into early retirement.
TrendingHow 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
How 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
Leadership Network and Vanderbloemen find what determines pastor salaries (and who might be most underpaid).
Editor's PickWhy Can't Men Be Friends?
Why Can't Men Be Friends?
Men and women alike increasingly say they are lonely. It doesn't have to be this way.
Comments
Christianity Today
Obama Uses Sermon on the Mount to Elevate Speeches
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.