Barack Obama’s having to leave his church is a bad sign for religious freedom in the US. People should be free to attend the church of their choice. Obama is a special case because he is running for president, but not that special. Admittedly, the US is not like the old Soviet Union where people were persecuted for going to church, or like a country that has an established religion connected to the government, like the situation that drove the Pilgrims and the Puritans to the US centuries ago, or like the Nazi persecution of the Jews, although that was more racial than religious.
What Obama’s experience shows is that you have to be a member of a pretty bland, mainstream, widely accepted church if you don’t want to be persecuted for your religion. While Obama’s pastor may have been controversial, the United Church of Christ is not. And most recently, Obama was criticized because of what a visiting Roman Catholic priest said in his church. America says, “Don’t you dare try to listen to other points of views. Don’t you dare try to understand other religions. We’ll crucify you.”
It’s hard to tell how much this religious hatred emanated from the Clinton campaign, how much from Republicans and their proxies like Fox News, how much from the evangelical right, and how much from news media that just wanted a story. But the end result was that Obama was not free to attend the church of his choice, and that’s sad for America.