A Review of The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield

The Faith of Barack Obama is a book that seeks to sift through all of the available material to determine what it is that the nation’s first black president believes.  Using speeches, news reports, the president’s own books, interviews and other sources, Mansfield paints a portrait of Barack Obama that some will agree with and others wholeheartedly disagree.  As the reader of this review, you are encouraged to form your own opinion based on the facts presented in the book from a large variety of sources. 

After acknowledging polling data which reveals the confusion of Americans as to what faith the president actually belongs to, the author seeks to unravel this mystery in a coherent form.  He begins with Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention of 2004.  This is where a man with a strange name was first introduced to the nation in a very big way.  In that speech, he began to articulate a religiously Left vision for the nation as an alternative to the Religious Right. 

Much time is spent in the book talking about Obama’s roots.  Included are details about his religiously mingled upbringing that brought such doubt and certainty to what he believes.  In its pages, the book quotes Obama as revealing that his mother was his biggest influence in matters of faith. 

As one would expect, the Dr. Jeremiah Wright is a large figure in Obama’s life and thus in the emphasis of the book.  The author explains African American church history as the author understands it, how it has shaped Obama and why it was so hard for the president to separate himself from Dr. Wright.  Mansfield believes that President Obama will always be remembered in association with this controversial figure. 

A turn takes place in the book as Mansfield explains the transition from Wright to a “band of brothers” which surrounds Obama with counsel, prayer and even daily devotions.  Added to their number is Carey Cash, the chaplain at Camp David who was an Iraq War chaplain with the Marines and who becomes the Obama family’s pastor.   These influencers have helped President Obama, the author is convinced, to become more sure and grounded in his faith. 

There are divergent opinions as to Obama’s faith.  This “band of brothers” sees the president as a genuine born again Christian.  Others outside of the White House are cited as giving reasons why they believe this not to be true.  Mansfield predicts that Obama is going to have to explain the growth and evolution of his faith, how it impacts his politics and how his policies have scriptural ground on which to be based. 

I have my opinion as to what the faith of Barack Obama is.  Reading this book I think will help inform those on the Right, the Left and in the middle as to what that is.  Perhaps we would come to different conclusions but this book is well prepared, with tons of sources and well worth the reading for every American who wants a more definitive answer as to what it is that the president believes. 

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