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"being my brothers' and sisters' keeper" (UPDATED)

Much is being written about Obama's defense yesterday of his Christian beliefs and what he had to say in that defense:

"It was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead," Obama said. "Being my brother's and sister's keeper. Treating others as they would treat me."

Back in January, Newsweek carried excerpts of a book written by Obama's half brother:

Eventually the press found me in my slum. My new notoriety was a blessing and a curse. Many people presume I have a direct line to the White House, but I don't. I've only met my big brother twice and have spoken to him just once since the election, to say congratulations. Still, because of our connection, I managed to pull in funds from philanthropists to support the work of the youth group. I raised enough money to buy the team gold and green uniforms--with their own numbers on the back. Last fall, Obama's Champs won the Nairobi Super League--a feat that, just a couple of years back, would have been unthinkable for a team from the slums. With the sponsorship I've attracted because of my last name, we can now afford to take buses all across Kenya for matches.

I still live in one of Africa's biggest slums, along with some 4.5 million others. We have little or no access to health care, no welfare, and no free schooling. The average income is less than $5 a day--and that's for those who find work as servants, taxi drivers, or garbage collectors. For the rest, there is nothing. My brother has risen to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. In Kenya I hope to be a leader among the poorest, most powerless people on earth--the people of the ghetto.

An interesting juxtaposition of circumstances especially in light of the President's words on what he claims drives his Christian faith.

More interesting however is this, coming our way via Scott at Verum Serum:

No disrespect, Mr President, but WHAT are you talking about?  There is no such charge in the Bible to be the keeper of your brothers and sisters.  We are told to do many things in the Bible:  to love others, to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves, to put others interests before our own, etc.  But nowhere are we told to be the keepers (controllers) of people.  There IS a verse that sounds a bit like what you said, but it's meaning is NOTHING like what you want it to mean.

Genesis 4:9

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"
"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Cain wasn't saying ANYTHING about controlling his brother.  He was using that as an excuse as to why he shouldn't be expected to know where his brother was.  And for good reason...he had just murdered his brother.

So I guess my point is that I would prefer that President Obama NOT claim to be a Christian and to be a person of faith when he can't even talk the talk.

And at the same time, I have to wonder if President Obama's perception of his faith is that he is supposed to be the "keeper" of his brothers and sisters, then does this explain his continued push to create and expand programs that in essence "keep" the men and women of this country?

In the attempt to defend his beliefs, the President has done nothing more than raise more questions.

Was this simply recklessness caused by a rush to counter polls? Or was it a clumsy attempt to pile fresh lies on top of stale ones?

I'll report, you decide.

UPDATE: What follows comes from an email exchange with Professor Barry Rubin on the subject:

The Hebrew of the verse--which is actually what the Bible said in the original--usually translated as brother's keeper is "shomer" which means a watchman, a guard, a protector. It does not imply that you should run your brother's life or tell him what to do but to protect him from others. A shomer is like a security guard. What Cain is saying is: Am I my brother's bodyguard? In other words, if someone had killed him I'm not responsible. He's setting up an alibi, not a nanny state.
I hope you find that useful.

Professor Barry Rubin,

Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center

The Rubin Report blog 
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal 
Editor Turkish Studies


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Comments (34)

To be fair, the most reason... (Below threshold)

To be fair, the most reasonable understanding of "keeper" would be "to take care of", not "to control." Liberal Christianity emphasizes taking care of others as second only to loving God, whereas evangelical Christianity emphasizes spreading the Gospel, with compassion or charity work simply one aspect of evangelism.

Similar to liberal's use of "our brother's keeper", Evangelicals routinely use the phrase "in the world, but not of the world" as though they were quoting a Bible verse, but this specific phrase is not in the Bible either.

What strikes me about Obama's profession of faith is its rather sterile nature. A significant number of people come to know God as the result of a crisis in their lives. As a result, they experience a kind of cleansing or deliverance through their salvation. It is a deeply emotional experience that routinely brings believers to tears when they give their testimony. But with Obama we have what seems to be a kind of "Mr. Spock" approach to faith, based on logic and reason and self-improvement, rather than on a real epiphany or soul-stirring encounter with God.

I'm not saying that Obama doesn't have deeply held beliefs; I really don't know, and neither does anyone else. Perhaps it is Obama's petulant college professor personality that causes him to give lectures on faith instead of making a genuine confession. But whatever the reason, his apparent lack of a deep, emotional faith experience is surely off-putting to many Americans.

I think I have a different ... (Below threshold)

I think I have a different slant on Obama's Christianity based on at least the portion of his talking shown on TV. To my way of thinking he said he had a philosophy based on the messages buried in Christianity rather than accepting Jesus as his personal savior. This is pretty much saying, "I'm not really a Christian, I just like their value system."

He's been (oddly and incorr... (Below threshold)

He's been (oddly and incorrectly) casting himself as Cain (as bizarre and ignorant as that is) for years...you'd think someone concerned about his image would have corrected him by now...maybe slipped it onto his teleprompter.

I have begun to grow weary ... (Below threshold)

I have begun to grow weary of the general discussion of Obama's faith. Like the whole birth certificate discussion (I apologize for bringing that up)this discussion about his religion is a distraction from the disaster of his political agenda. I think he is pleased to use it as such. Then there are the weird twists on scripture he paraphases. For example he is quoted as saying "treating others as they would treat me". I guess this is his take on what Christians call the Golden Rule. To me the Golden Rule is treating others as you WISH to be treated, not as others would treat you. He does treat others the way they treat him. It is apparent if you don't show respect to him, you will in turn get treated poorly. Perhaps an "eye for an eye" sentiment? But the Golden Rule of the New Testament suggests you should treat others well despite how they treat you. Since Obama likes to use this comparison ad nauseum, yes, much like George W Bush behaved. What does his status as a Christian mean to any of his Marxist minions anyway?

What a load of bull from Ob... (Below threshold)

What a load of bull from Obama.
He'll say anything to anyone.

If he meant what he said, then why is his aunt living in subsidized housing in Ma and receiving $700/month in disability payments?
Why is everyone BUT Obama supporting her?
With the millions the Obama's have made, why isn't he spending a fraction to move his aunt into her own place to live? Why doesn't he help his brother more?

I also notice in the initial quotes above, that as usual, it's all about him. "Treating others as they would treat ME."

You know, I tend to think his approval numbers would increase if he spoke less.

I find it certainly odd if ... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

I find it certainly odd if not reprehensible that, with all of his money, and as far as we know, Obama has never made an effort to assist his aunt or his own brother financially, and he didn't even bother to attend his own mother's funeral to pay his last respects to her.

It's like he has an attitude, hey, he got his, and if they didn't get theirs, that's tough shit - not his problem.

Animals in the jungle are like that. They are born. After they're nurtured by their mother, they go their own way, feeling no obligation to their mother or to their siblings. Somewhere there, evolution in Obama's family was retarded, if you get my drift.

They took Obama out of a ju... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

They took Obama out of a jungle, but they didn't take the jungle out of Obama.

I'm happy for Obama that he... (Below threshold)

I'm happy for Obama that he took Christianity under his wing, he can find the Golden Rule in Islam as well, and maybe in Buddhism, I'm not sure, but I'll bet it is there somewhere. Holy Cow, he can be a person of all religions, denying none, just like he is a "citizen of the world".

I'm more concerned about Ob... (Below threshold)

I'm more concerned about Obama's continuing habit of bearing false witness (lying) against Republicans and citizens.

Obama is an atheist, and at... (Below threshold)

Obama is an atheist, and at best an apostate muslim with muslim sympathies.

Look at the pregnant pause with the eyes fluttering while he prepares how to delete the word "Creator" from a line in our Declaration of Independence"

It was weird, like he was being programmed at that moment.

Obama is a pathetic embarrassment for an American leader.

You 52% should be ashamed of what you have foisted upon America, but we'll fix it in 2012.

Here's a tough one for you ... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

Here's a tough one for you dimwits: Give me a rational explanation of what I said at #7 that was construed to be offensive. (Rational is the buzz word there.)

Do you like posting at Wizbang?
Then stop with the sock puppetry spamming of talking
to yourself under one nic after another.

In response to #7 & #11.</p... (Below threshold)

In response to #7 & #11.

Easy, he wasn't raised in a jungle.

Oops, I should have specifi... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

Oops, I should have specified, too, that I wanted and intelligent answer.

Soooo, in other words, you ... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

Soooo, in other words, you were just being bitchy.

When Barry can admit he is ... (Below threshold)

When Barry can admit he is the wrong man for the job. I will believe he is a sincere person.

Jeremiah was his keeper. That says it all.

With his Christian upbringi... (Below threshold)

With his Christian upbringing, well at least 20 or so years of it, I'm suprised he didn't just come out and say Jesus wanted to damn America.

Not being able to construe ... (Below threshold)

Not being able to construe that a comment has potential racial connotations would be a sign dimwitted-ness. Feigning indignation at others ability to make this observation and appropriately mark down a poor choice of wording is just simple conceit.

Rodney, Rodney, Rodney... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

Rodney, Rodney, Rodney

I'm sure that your replies make perfect sense to you.

But they won't make sense to any rational person.

Your rationale is bizarre.

I'm sure that you've been told that before.

Oops, I should hav... (Below threshold)
Oops, I should have specified, too, that I wanted and intelligent answer.
You also forgot to specify that you don't intend to apply this standard to yourself. I've applied both rational and intelligent standards to my comments. I've upped my standard... so now up yours.
Rodney, see #14 ..., and oh... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

Rodney, see #14 ..., and oh yeah, take your meds.

LMAO... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:


Michael Laprarie<bloc... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Michael Laprarie

Similar to liberal's use of "our brother's keeper", Evangelicals routinely use the phrase "in the world, but not of the world" as though they were quoting a Bible verse, but this specific phrase is not in the Bible either.

The difference is that the phrase "in the world, but not of the world" has a strong biblical foundation in John 15:19, John 17:14-17, and Romans 12:2. The phrase "our brother's keeper" has to be modified to "our brother's care giver" to even come close to the Biblical teaching of loving the Brethren. Like Obama, the liberal view of "our brother's keeper" is to use the force of law to take away from those who have earned much and give it to those who haven't. Not even in the communal living of the early church described in Acts were people compelled to part with their own property for the benefit of others. If they did so it was by their own freewill as explained in Acts 5:4.

If liberals want a Biblical foundation for the ability-to-pay principle underpinning the Federal income tax they should use the last sentence of Luke 12:48 which says "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more." At least then liberals won't be guilty of pretending to be their brother's keeper by passing tax increases.

Mac, et al - If Obama is Ch... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

Mac, et al - If Obama is Christian, then he is a "social justice" Christian, which puts political aims (in this case, radical liberalism) side-by-side with the cross. It's dangerous when any Christian does this, of any political stripes.

The only person Barry worsh... (Below threshold)

The only person Barry worships....is Barry.

Thoughtless,Thanks... (Below threshold)


Thanks for adding to the discussion.

#24Sounds l... (Below threshold)


Sounds like Biden

Big Mo,Ma... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Big Mo,

Mac, et al - If Obama is Christian, then he is a "social justice" Christian, which puts political aims (in this case, radical liberalism) side-by-side with the cross. It's dangerous when any Christian does this, of any political stripes.

It's dangerous, as you say, but nothing new. In past centuries quasi-government institutions got away with claiming their own ideas were "Christian" by suppressing attempts to translate the Bible into the language of common people. Obviously we are past that point, but a lot can be accomplished with false Biblical teachings when the people are ignorant of the contents of the Bible and have no interest in learning it either. Liberals get a lot of mileage out of the separation of church and state doctrine, particularly the part about keeping religion out of public schools. Ok, that's wrong. It should be keeping Christianity out of public schools.

To 27, yep it's about his l... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

To 27, yep it's about his level. And we know Jumpin' Joe has the free time.

Hey, thought or two, I just... (Below threshold)
Rodney (Not Rodney Dill):

Hey, thought or two, I just went for a quick joke, Rodney Dill (Never met the man but great first name) gave his answer which was much better. Sorry to confuse you, just remember Clark Kent is Superman, Superman can see without wearing Clarks glasses.

Duh gawsh, Rodney, dat thur... (Below threshold)
a thought or two:

Duh gawsh, Rodney, dat thur wath clever, duh, huh, huh, duh yup, it thur wath.

LOL. Can't make this stuff up, folks. They post that dorky stuff here every day.

Actually thought, I rarely ... (Below threshold)
Rodney(Not Rodney Dill):

Actually thought, I rarely post anywhere. Just pointing out the obvious was 10 second diversion. That has now lasted about a full minute, but your tirade is already beginning to bore so have a nice day.

Christins don't go around s... (Below threshold)
Don L:

Christins don't go around seeking to kill millins of innocent babies -case closed.

Communism is essentially an... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Communism is essentially an atheistic philosophy, both as conceived and as practiced.

What religious studies Obama undertook through his atheist mother and grandparents remains unclear; his muslim father seems to have been more of a drunk than anything else, and I expect when his muslim stepfather took him off to Indonesia, any religious instruction he received would not have been Christian.

Certainly, the hateful racist polemics spewing forth from the pulpit of Jeremiah Wright's "church" bore no resemblance at all to anything remotely related to Christianity.

"the precepts of Jesus Chri... (Below threshold)
gary gulrud:

"the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me"

Rodney Dill pegged it early, this isn't even directed at Christians outside the UCC, liberal Methodists, Lutheran and Presbyterians,..., i.e., mainstream-free thinkers. We're talking 20 million church-goers tops.

Really its targeted at all the atheists, agnostics and syncretists, e.g., Ba'hai, Unitarians, animists, etc., with a token apologia on behalf of 'precepts' originating with the kooky deists.

Christians all accept, at minimum, a confession like the Apostles, Nicene or Athanasian creeds as legitimate expression of Christian faith. Often, if responsibilities are being assumed other oaths are additionally required, acceptance of church authority, denial of Satan, etc.

This dilettante ought to make any college sophomore blush.






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