Waiting for the Preacher: Obama’s America in World Religious Context



6 September 2010

Bill Clinton went to war to rescue Kosovar Muslims from Serbian Catholics and dreamed of reconciling Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews. George W. Bush left office embroiled in a war to reconcile Iraqi Muslims to one another. Strange errands, these, for a pair of ardently declared American Protestants! Now comes President Barack Obama, fathered by a Kenyan Muslim and raised for significant middle years by his atheist mother and a Muslim stepfather in Jakarta. Accused during his election campaign (and still) of being a crypto-Muslim, the man seems to send religious messages before he even opens his mouth. But what about that celebrated mouth? The vivid, if objectionable, language of “clash of civilizations” and “war on terror” has been replaced by–well, by what exactly? What is the religious (and anti-religious) world waiting to hear from a leader both acclaimed and mocked as a preacher? Or has the world already received its answer?

Jack Miles presented on this topic at our event. Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.


  • Professor Jack Miles
    Pulitzer Prize Winner

    John R. (Jack) Miles was a contributor to American Review, a magazine published by the US Studies Centre. Now retired, Miles was previously Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English & Religious Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and Senior Fellow for Religion & International Affairs with the Pacific Council on International Policy. His book GOD: A Biography won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 and has been translated into sixteen languages.