By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
In a new interview with CNN, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner—who's hawking a new book—says he expects the "problems" of mixing religion and politics will come to a temporary halt during the Obama years:
CNN's John Roberts: You know in the 1950s and through the '60s and the early '70s, you were such a factor in the sexual revolution in this country. With the election of Barack Obama, do you believe that the cultural revolution has come to an end?
Hugh Hefner: It's always ongoing. You know, we remain essentially a puritan people. And so I think that conflict is always there. One got a remarkable revolutionary change in pop culture and in moral values in the '60s and '70s, and then there was a backlash. And that backlash, I think, has influenced government. And, um, the Christian right has played a major role in all of that. And I think that the complicated problems with religion being involved with politics hopefully will come to an end for a while at least.
Hefner—and lots of other secular liberals—are in for a big a surprise. Here are eight reasons why:
1. Obama has vowed to expand the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, under a new name.
2. Obama has told me that he regularly prays to be an "instrument of God's will." That's not likely to stop when he's president.
3. The Obama transition team has had more than a dozen meetings with scores of religious groups as it works to craft its policy agenda.
4. Obama rejects the secular argument against mixing religion and government policy: "[S]ecularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square . . . To say that men and women should not inject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."
5. Despite protests from gay rights advocates and the political left, Obama has stood firmly behind his decision to invite Rick Warren to give his inauguration's invocation.
6. On the campaign trail, Obama sat down with Christian right leaders even before John McCain got to them.
7. In The Audacity of Hope—a book whose title comes from a sermon—Obama writes that Democrats need to challenge the religious right for the votes of values voters:
There are a whole lot of religious people in America, including the majority of Democrats. When we abandon the field of religious discourse—when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations toward one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome—others will fill the vacuum. And those who do are likely to be those with the most insular views of faith, or who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.
8. On the campaign trail, Obama distributed lots of literature advertising himself as a 'Committed Christian.'