The folks over on Religious Connections nicely summarize the case of the “blasphemously doctored” video of a pro-health care reform religious service at which the congregants’ words have been altered from “Hear Our Cry, O God. Deliver Us, O God.” to Hear Our Cry, Obama. Deliver Us, Obama.” The video has gotten a good deal of traction in the conservative religious blogosphere, including from some more or less reasonable types like Rod “Crunchy Con” Dreher. Evidently, such people are fully prepared to believe that religious liberals literally worship Obama. The question is why?
No doubt, this stems in part from Obama’s personal charisma and the message of (secular) redemption that was more or less his campaign theme. The underground conception of Obama as the Antichrist derives from these things, and Christian doctrine presupposes worshipers of that false messiah. Who else could they be but religious liberals?
But there is, I think, something else. Within conservative evangelicalism, George W. Bush came to be seen as a hieratic figure–“Our Christian President,” an anointed leader. The most notorious image of this conceptualization comes from the 2006 documentary Jesus Camp, where youngsters are shown praying ecstatically around a cardboard cutout of Bush.
You can, then, be a religious conservative in America today who doesn’t believe that Barack Obama is the Antichrist but who nevertheless thinks that his more strenuous followers look at him as your own strenuous folks looked at George W. Bush. There is no evidence that religious liberals are worshiping Obama, but religious conservatives have reasons to imagine them to be doing so.