ELKHART, Ind. — During a town hall meeting in Indiana on Thursday, Barack Obama cited the Bible as being one of his reasons for his stance that boys who identify as girls should be allowed to use the girls’ restroom.
During the event, Obama was asked by attendee Arvis Dawson why he seemingly has made the issue a priority in his administration.
“I’m a strong believer in equal rights for everyone—a very strong believer in that. I was wondering, though, with all the pressing issues you have before you right now, why is the issue of which bathroom a person uses such an issue?” he asked.
“Somehow people think I made it an issue,” Obama replied. “I didn’t make it an issue. There are a lot of things that are more pressing; you are absolutely right.”
He proceeded to explain that schools across the country had been contacting the Department of Education to ask how the matter should be handled now that students are increasingly coming out as transgender.
“What happened, and what continues to happen is you have transgender kids in schools and they get bullied and they get ostracized, and its tough for them,” Obama said. “We’re of a generation where that stuff was all out of sight and out of mind, and so people suffered silently, but now they’re out in the open. And … schools are asking us, ‘How should we deal with this?'”
“And my answer is that we should deal with this issue the same way we would want it dealt with if it was our child—and that is to try to create and environment of some dignity and kindness for these kids. And that’s sort of the bottom line,” he continued. “I have to say what’s in my heart, but I also have to look at, you know, what’s the law. And my best interpretation of what our laws and our obligations are is that we should try to accommodate these kids so that they are not in a vulnerable situation.”
Obama then stated that he understands those who have religious objections.
“I understand [there are] people [who because of] religious beliefs or just general discomfort might disagree,” he said. “I’m not the one who’s making an issue of it. But if the school districts around the country ask me, ‘What do you think we should do?’ then what we’re going to do is tell them, ‘Let’s find a way to accommodate them and a way to make sure that these kids are not excluded and ostracized.”
Dawson explained that because of his church background, he believes people should continue to use the restroom they always had been using.
“I have profound respect for everyone’s religious beliefs on this,” Obama replied. “But if you’re in a public school, the question is, how to we just make sure that children are treated with kindness? That’s all. And my reading of Scripture tells me that the Golden Rule is pretty high up there in terms of my Christian belief.”
“That doesn’t mean that everyone has to interpret it the same way, but as president of the United States, those are the values that I think are important,” he said. “It’s not like I woke up one day and said, ‘Let’s start working on high school bathrooms…’ One of the things, as president, you learn is that you don’t choose the issues all the time; issues come to you, and then you have to make your best judgment about what you think is right.”
In the Scriptures, Christians are instructed to be kind, but to help turn their neighbor from sin rather than accommodate it.
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves—if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will,” 2 Timothy 2:24-26 reads.
James 5:19-20 also states, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”