Martin Bashir

*First there was the push for President Obama to prove he was a U.S.citizen. Now the GOP is questioning the president’s faith as to whether or not he is a Christian as he confesses to be.

On his “Clear the Air” segment, MSNBC’s Martin Bashir – using a trusted Christian standard source – set out to do a barometer check in the presidential campaign arena.

He said in part: “[H]aving failed disastrously in [their] preposterous attempt to suggest that the president is not an American, they [the GOP] are now reviving their effort to imply that the president is not a Christian. But how does anyone prove that they are a Christian beyond saying that they are?” There’s a bumper sticker that reads ‘If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’

Bashir went on to say, “There is no birth certificate to produce [to prove one’s Christianity], but there are some very clear signs. Sixty years ago…the great Oxford academic C.S. Lewis published a book entitled ‘Mere Christianity.’  The book was based upon some BBC radio talks that he gave during the Second World War.” C.S. Lewis wrote: “If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if  he continues to be just as snobbish, or spiteful, or envious, or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary…Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in ‘religion’ mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better…”  On this basis Bashir – who says he is a committed Christian – drew some conclusions about three of the GOP presidential candidates who claim to be “men of faith.”

First he played a clip of Mitt Romney stating, “A newly-elected President Obama told America that if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars he would hold unemployment below 8%.” Bashir responded, “That is an outright lie. The president never ever said such a thing…in fact that was a speculative projection written [by two journalists] about the possible impact of a stimulus package, [and it was] written before the president was even inaugurated.”

Bashir then said, “Rick Santorum is selling himself as the most Christian of all the candidates. He says Satan is attacking the institutions of America. He talks repeatedly about the great men and women of faith who serve this country through self-sacrifice and generosity, but when it comes to his own personal commitment to charity Mr. Santorum is remarkably quiet. That’s because in 2010 Mr. Santorum earned almost one million dollars and gave just over 1.7% to charity. During the same period the president and the first lady gave over 14%. So the devout Catholic is apparently a hypocrite.”

On Newt Gingrich Bashir said, “A man who believes the Christian sacrament of marriage, lifelong monogamy actually means sleeping with one woman at a time. So there you have it – the liar, the hypocrite, and the adulterer. And remember what C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just as snobbish, or spiteful, or envious, or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary…’  The President of the United States is a Christian, but as for those three, in the words of Franklin Graham, ‘I don’t think any of us can be categorically certain’,” Bashir concluded.

The presidential campaign is a tough arena. During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Al Sharpton– commenting [in part] on President Obama’s performance – probably summed it up best when he said, “I think sometimes we’re looking for more than is possible. No, Barack Obama cannot walk on water, but he’s the best swimmer in political America.”

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) www.amazon.com. Available at Smiley’s Bookstore in Carson CA, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, and Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara CA. Visit the author at www.larrybuford.com. (213) 220-8101