(RNS) So, according to the long-form birth certificate released by the White House on Wednesday (April 27), Barack Hussein Obama II was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961 at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Phew! Glad that’s settled.
Or at least it seemed to be settled for about 10 seconds before rabid “birthers” began shrieking into the void of cyberspace about how the document is probably a forgery.
Even if Obama could produce a videotape of his mother giving birth while holding a copy of The New York Times dated Aug. 4, 1961 with Walter Cronkite and a Supreme Court justice standing on either side, there are people who still would question where and when he was born.
To paraphrase Jesus, the crazy will always be with us.
“I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest,” Obama told White House reporters after his lawyer requested two copies of Obama’s “long-form” birth certificate from the Hawaii Department of Health.
“But I’m speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve.”
Sad but true.
The president, however, still has a problem. While the matter of his earthly citizenship is settled, there are some Christians who will continue to question his harder-to-document citizenship in the kingdom of God.
Evangelist Franklin Graham, who has appeared charmed in recent weeks by Donald Trump’s newfound political clout, soon joined The Donald’s mad descent into the bowels of birtherism during an Easter Sunday interview with ABC.
Obama has “some issues to deal with” to prove he was indeed born in Hawaii, the scion of the Graham family said. “I was born in a hospital in Asheville, N.C., and I know that my records are there. You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born. I don’t know why he can’t produce that.”
Not content to stop there, Graham went on to stoke lingering doubts about Obama’s personal faith.
“Now, he has told me that he is a Christian. But the debate comes, what is a Christian?” Graham added. “For him, going to church means he’s a Christian. For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following him in faith and we have trusted him as our Lord and Savior.”
Oh, Franklin. Please do your homework.
Seven years ago, in a lengthy and widely circulated interview about his spiritual life that originally appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama told me with exceeding clarity that he was a Christian. But he didn’t just leave it with the “Christian” label.
Obama spoke about his “Christian faith” and “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” how his prayer life is an “ongoing conversation with God.” When I asked whether he was “born-again,” he affirmed that he was.
Obama even described the morning he got up from his seat and responded to an altar call at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in the late 1980s, adding that it was a “powerful moment” that “confirmed” and “gave shape to” his Christian faith.
If that’s not enough, perhaps critics should read Obama’s remarks at the recent White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, where he spoke movingly and candidly about the “pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross.”
“And we’re reminded that in that moment, (Jesus) took on the sins of the world—past, present and future—and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection,” Obama said.
But it doesn’t seem to matter what Obama says about his spiritual beliefs and religious predilections, or how he attempts to affirm his faith in word and deed publicly. People believe what they want to believe, hear what they want to hear, and see what they want to see. Those who insist that the president is a spiritual poseur will not be placated by any amount of evidence to the contrary.
Jesus Christ himself could walk into the White House pressroom, throw his arm around Obama, look straight into the cameras and say, “He’s with me,” and in certain quarters doubts would still persist.
Shock-jock Mancow Muller, himself a born-again Christian, once told me that trying to prove you’re a Christian is “like trying to prove you’re not a pedophile.”
Jesus said that people will know people are Christians by their love. Unfortunately love isn’t objectively quantifiable. The “fruits of the spirit” can’t be measured scientifically or teased out by a political poll.
And the state of Illinois doesn’t issue born-again birth certificates.