Prior to last year’s presidential election I wrote an article about Mormonism, the religion of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (see the Feb. 15, 2012 Standard Bearer). Mormonism is well-known as a polytheistic religion, that is, a religion that believes in the existence of many gods. As an adherent to the false religion of Mormonism, Mitt Romney wickedly believes there are many gods. But Mitt Romney was not the only polytheist in the race for the presidency last year. President Obama, despite his public profession of Christianity, also promotes a form of polytheism.
There are different forms of polytheism, and President Obama’s is not the same as the polytheism of Mitt Romney. Many religions, such as Mormonism and Hinduism, are openly polytheistic. These openly polytheistic religions candidly confess their belief in more than one god and candidly admit that they engage in the worship of more than one god.
President Obama does not hold to this form of open polytheism. If asked point blank whether he worshiped many gods, it is likely President Obama would say no. If asked whether he believes in the existence of more than one God, it is likely that again, as a professing Christian, his answer would be no.
President Obama’s polytheism is the more subtle form in which he does not personally believe in other gods, but he tolerates the religions of others who do believe in other gods. Not only does President Obama tolerate those who worship other gods, he even worships with them.
The most recent example of President Obama’s toleration of other religions and willingness to worship with them came in the aftermath of the tragic Newtown, Connecticut shootings. It was reported in the news media that President Obama attended an interfaith prayer meeting. Most of the focus was on President Obama’s speech, in which he expressed sympathy and support for those affected by the dreadful shootings. The fact that President Obama joined with other faiths for prayer is slightly noticed by the media. It is difficult to find much information about the religions represented at this prayer meeting. I have found evidence that the participants included Christians (from a congregational church and a Presbyterian church as well as the President), orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs.
In his remarks President Obama indicated he would have welcomed more people from more religions, indeed that he would gladly welcome people from all the world’s religions (the president’s speech is available on the White House’s web site). Towards the end of his speech the President said, “All the world’s religions—so many of them represented here today—start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose?” If I had opportunity to interview President Obama, I would like to ask him how he views all these religions of the world. Does he believe it is possible that there are many gods? Or does he believe that there is only one God, which all religions are actually worshiping under different names and in different ways? We do not know how the President would answer those questions, but we do know that he does not believe other world religions are to be condemned as false. We do know that he does not believe that Christians should condemn and separate themselves from the worship of other gods. We do know that he believes it is legitimate for Christians to participate in the same worship service as those who worship other gods (a prayer vigil is a worship service).
Some Christians, including the President, would probably object to describing attendance at an interfaith prayer meeting as polytheism. Perhaps the President would argue that while at the meeting he did not worship the god(s) of the Jews, the Muslims, the Sikhs, or any other religion. He worshiped his God and they worshiped their gods. If the president worshiped only one God at the prayer meeting, then he must be a monotheist, a believer in one God—so the argument would probably go.
But President Obama’s “monotheism” is not the monotheism demanded by and defined by Scripture. True monotheism is the belief in and worship of the one true God of Scripture, the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jews and Muslims are monotheists in the sense that they profess belief in only one god. But they are not true monotheists because they do not believe in the one true God revealed in Scripture as the triune God. President Obama and other Christians who willingly attend interfaith prayer meetings would claim they are true monotheists. “We believe in the one triune God,” they would say.
But Scripture demands more than the personal belief in and worship of the one true God. The monotheism taught in Scripture also forbids the toleration of other gods and requires the rejection and condemnation of them. God demands of His people that they confess with Him in: “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.” God forbad Israel to participate in “interfaith” services that included the worship of other gods. In God says, “But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves.” Then God describes the worship of other gods as spiritual whoredom. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods” ( ). There is an important progression described in this text. The sons of Israel are not described immediately as whoring after the other gods. Instead they and their fathers (and probably other family members) first only attend the worship feast dedicated to the other gods. Probably at those initial feasts these Israelites claimed that they were not worshiping the other gods. But soon the son of the Israelite marries a woman who goes a whoring after other gods, and he joins her. The son may not have been spiritually whoring after other gods in the beginning by simply attending the worship feasts, but he was spiritually flirting with the other gods, and that flirting led to outright spiritual adultery.
At the interfaith prayer meeting President Obama and other Christians may not have gone a whoring after other gods, but they did play footsy with those gods. By spiritually flirting with the gods of other religions, these professing Christians did not practice true monotheism as it is defined by God in Scripture. They did not break down the altars of the other gods by condemning those other gods and testifying plainly there is only one God. When they spoke of Jesus (President Obama did speak of Him), they did not declare Him to be the only Savior and proclaim that there is no salvation outside of Him. I am not arguing that the President needs to use his position as president to declare the gospel. But we do need to understand that his presence at the interfaith prayer meeting as a professing Christian was the horrible sin of spiritual unfaithfulness to the one true God.
Why do we need to know this? Because just as God warned Israel inthat the Canaanites would “call thee” to join them in the worship of their gods, so the church today needs to understand that she is called by the world’s religions to join them in their worship services. The pressure and temptation to participate in interfaith services only increases as now so-called Christians also call us to join in. Even the President, in his influential position, is setting an example that calls to all Christians, “This is good, you can and should join us too.” But we may not join in. We need to understand that tolerating other gods is a subtle but deadly form of polytheism.
In faithfulness to God our testimony must be that there is only one true God, whom we will worship, and there is one way of salvation through Jesus Christ (HC, LD 11).