A guest on CNN this morning said President Barack Obama’s name is a factor in so many Americans’ failure to acknowledge him as a Christian. As has been widely reported recently, only one-third of Americans identified the president’s faith as Christian and 1 in 5, according to a Pew Research survey, labeled him as a Muslim.

Is this ignorance, bigotry or political strategy? My hunch is it’s a blending of the three.

Anyone who pays even minimal attention to the news should know that President Obama professes to be a Christian — why else would he have had a public spat with his Chicago pastor during the campaign?

Some talking heads suggest the President should make his faith commitments more public. But I don’t think that is the issue here.

Rather there is a conscious effort to NOT acknowledge the president’s chosen faith. Many feel it is their role to determine who is or is not a real Christian based on how much another shares their political and doctrinal orientations.

A couple of years ago I had a conversation with a high school science teacher and Bob Jones University graduate who spoke negatively of Arabs. When I mentioned having met many good Palestinian Christians, she was shocked.

“Saved Christians?” she asked, as if the true faith rests only within her narrow corner of Christianity.

It seems that many American Christians can only share their faith identification with those who look, sound and act like them. The Pharisees who drew Jesus’ harshest words were less arrogant.

Here in the U.S. and all around the world, in all kinds of cultural settings, there are people who profess Jesus as Lord in a wide variety of languages. That’s right, “saved Christians,” who don’t speak English with a Southern drawl and whose names are very unlike Smith and Jones.

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