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In the past two weeks, President-elect Barack Obama has managed to qualm many right-wing fears -- winning praise even from his staunchest opponents on talk radio for his deft and "right"-leaning picks for his cabinet. Let us say that, so far, instead of radical liberalism, there has been a strong move to the center.

Moreover, the president-elect -- who endured a tremendous array of rumors during the campaign -- no longer seems like the stealth candidate he once did. Those who feared that he was a Muslim or terrorist "plant" are reckoning with news that al Qaeda strongly dislikes the incoming president (calling him a racial epithet) and the world of Islam is divided over him. There is nervousness in Pakistan, which may find itself at great odds with the new president, who has vowed to find Bin Laden.

But there remains an unsettlement about Mr. Obama -- a spiritual unsettlement -- and it may go beyond the issue of abortion.

Thus far, the president-elect and his family have not chosen a church in Washington (although that announcement could come any day), and unlike his predecessors, Obama, who has been instructed in both Christianity (which he now accepts as his main belief system) and Islam (he attended a Muslim school in his youth, as well as a Catholic one), has not attended a post-election church service to offer up thanks. Why is this? What denomination is he? Will his spirituality be a non-religious one?

"The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States was a defeat for the Christian right, but that doesn't mean that faith didn't play a major role in Obama's resounding victory," noted a columnist named Desiree Cooper. "While the Republican Party ran under the mantra of 'God and country,' Obama tapped into something possibly even bigger -- God and spirit.

"A survey out this month revealed that 52 percent of Americans age 12 to 25 say that they don't trust organized religion, but that they are increasingly spiritual. According to the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, young people are turning away from their churches, mosques, and temples and finding God in nature, music, friends, and community service."

That seems nebulous. It is also disheartening. Added to it is the fact that one of Obama's most important supporters is talk-show hostess Oprah Winfrey, who also heavily promotes New Age gurus such as Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Marianne Williamson. The New Age is paganism in new wraps. Oprah is set to start her own television network -- promising more future influence.

"On the day after the election," notes Cooper, "Marianne Williamson, author of Healing the Soul of America, e-mailed a mass message. In it, she observed that 'the Obama phenomenon did not come out of nowhere. It emerged as much from our story as from his -- as much from our yearning for meaning as from his ambition to be president.'"

Williamson -- arguably the nation's leading New Ager -- has made a name carrying on the work of a woman who channeled the "voice" of Jesus for a deeply occultic work called "A Course in Miracles" (which Oprah also strongly promotes).

It was Oprah, of course, whose joint appearance with Obama at an early primary helped him jump to an early lead against Hillary Clinton. How much influence will she have in the White House?

Will Obama continue toward the center? Or adopt this form of spirituality -- spreading it further?

Are the intense concerns about him based in part in racism (which would be a sin) -- as well as simple adjustment to the reality of a black president -- or due to a deep reserve about his spiritual orientation?

We will see how matters unfold. There are even those who say he is moving away from the Freedom of Choice Act, which would in effect codify abortion (ostensibly the chief reason that the Christian right opposes him). But there remains the unsettlement. What is his spirituality? This, along with his stand on embryonic stem cells and abortion, will tell the story.

We are in  a tumultuous time that could set the stage for a future turn toward non-religious spirituality which all too easily can then veer away from Christ and toward the occult, abortion "rights," gay policies, and Godless holidays, creating an atmosphere that would be increasingly conducive to a flattening of belief (ardent secularism) that in its turn can lead to persecution.

[see also: Vatican attacked for opposing gay decriminalization, Anti-religion sign at state capitol, Will lapsed Catholics turn anti-Catholic?, Is he a stealth centrist?, Another Hollywood attack, The gay activists redefining politics, and Drums boom as NY cathedral known for New Age reopens ]

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