I doubt that Barack Obama will be using a Church of the Churchless endorsement in his presidential campaign, but I'll offer it anyway: he got more kudos from me than John McCain did as I watched yesterdays' "Civil Forum" sponsored by Rick Warren's Camelback Church.
Still, neither candidate impressed me from a churchless perspective. No big surprise. Heck, they were speaking in a church. And trying to appeal to evangelical voters.
Both Obama and McCain struck me as sincere. Each has deeply felt religious convictions, so far as I could tell. I expected McCain to be less comfortable in the Forum, since he doesn't speak about religion as much as Obama does, but he was surprisingly at ease.
(Some are wondering that this might be because he knew some of the questions ahead of time, not really being in a "cone of silence" while Obama was interviewed by Warren.)
Obama's brand of Christianity is much more palatable to me than McCain's is. Their answers to a question about evil were especially telling.
Each was asked, "Does evil exist, and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?"
Obama's answer can be read here. I liked this part of it.
Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, but you know a lot of evil has been perpetuated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.
Contrast this nuanced and thoughtful response with what McCain said:
Defeat it. Couple points. One, if I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that and I know how to do that. I will get that done.
Those words are straight from his stump speech. No thought went into them, no consideration about what the nature of evil is, no recognition that while "evil" vs. "good" makes for good applause lines, the line between these concepts is blurry rather than clear cut – as Obama pointed out.
Plus, if McCain knows how to capture Osama bin Laden, why hasn't he told the Bush administration how to do it?
Unfortunately, as a CNN commentator pointed out, McCain's religious style likely will connect emotionally more with Middle America.
Obama was more thoughtful, and thinking doesn't mesh very well with religion for lots of people. He should get most of the churchless vote though, for what that's worth (not much, sadly).