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Obama delivers very Christian message at Christmas tree lighting
President Obama and his family at the Thursday night tree lighting.
December 1st, 2011
10:12 PM ET

Obama delivers very Christian message at Christmas tree lighting

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - President Barack Obama delivered an unusually stark Christian message at the White House Christmas tree lighting Thursday night, saying Christ's message "lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans."

"More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep," Obama said at the tree lighting ceremony, a longstanding White House tradition.


"But this was not just any child," Obama continued. "Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us."

Obama has been more public and specific about his religious beliefs since polls last year showed that only a minority of Americans know he is Christian. Last Easter, Obama got unusually specific about his beliefs on Christ's resurrection at a White House prayer breakfast.

Some conservative Christian leaders have questioned Obama's Christian faith, even though Obama got his start in politics through church-based political organizing and has written about accepting Jesus in his 20s.

Last month, South Carolina Christian conservative leader Bob Jones III told a reporter “I’ve no reason to think (Obama is) Christian."

“Some people will say whatever they think the politically helpful thing would be,” Jones said. “I say, ‘Where is the evidence that he is a Christian?’ ”

In his remarks at Thursday's tree lighting, Obama said that Jesus "grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves."

"So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season," he said, "and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Christmas

soundoff (2,184 Responses)
  1. Anjas

    Caroline Posted on @Sarah My brother saw this movie when it came out and raved about it; I didn't see it until a few years later when I was osbsseed with DL's No Cure for Cancer album and was convinced it was the funniest thing ever (I still might think that). There's a lot more story and character to the movie than I was expecting, though; it's a nice surprise and a healthy antidote to an excess of holiday cheer. . .while still having a heart, I think.

    July 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  2. Obama mortgage plan

    A lot of companies right now are taking actions to boost the sustainability of their products as well as processes reacting to be able to both customer along with public strain along with upcoming ...vintage fishing lures

    February 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  3. kenny the beleiver

    wow, you guys really hate each other dont you? im a real true beleiver in J.C. and no hypocrite by any means.i beleive that every person born is in dire need of the grace and mercy that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers. I was raised a mormon,but it didnt take.about 14 yrs. ago i said a simple prayer,in a jail cell, to a God i neither understood or knew.a prayer that He answered quikly. i simply asked this God if He could help me to change.you see id' been a stone cold rebel and major #@$$-up my whole life. i was 32 yrs. old at the time.well He helped me change, starting on that day.religion , or should i say, religious groups who try to make you be like them are nothing but trouble.because if you dont become like them they will hate you and punish or kill you.what changed me was reading the Bible.......alot. i had lots of time to read in prison. im alot better man today than i was then. not perfect by any means, just better. i dont push my faith on anyone. for if i did i would certainly be labled a hypocrite.my faults are still quite obvious to most.but i am able to see clearly the changes that have occurred inside of me. i dare any non beleiver to come to God in prayer and ask Him if He will show Hiimself to you in a way such as you wont be able to deny that He has revealed Himself to you.He will come.then maybe dare to pick up a Bible and read it and keep on reading it. then you will begin to see truth in a way you have never seen before. then you will begin to see that we truly are in end times. you wont have to keep on being so angry at the world and everthing in it. give yourself atleast a chance to beleive. take care everyone. be well.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  4. FLADABOSCO

    Bob Jones knows Obama ain't no Christian because he knows god personally and god told him. Jones knows what goes on in everyone's heart. He and Jesus used to double date. He's a more perfect person than anyone else. That's why he supported kicking students out of his university if they dated outside their race. That's why he calls Catholics and Mormons instruments of Satan. He shares a pop bottle with god without wiping the top after god drinks, that's how close they are. What a doof.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  5. anonymous

    Honestly, I have no reason to doubt that President Obama sincerely embraces Christianity, although I disagree with him on key issues within the faith and politics, issues that I think are reflected in doubt and a hesitance to accept his claim amongst evangelicals. I don't know his heart obviously, only he and God truly know that. I think the President's message sounds right on–in a sense, although I think interpreting these words as "keep the Christmas spirit alive" just scratches the surface. I think loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself is the very heart of the Gospel, of the message/commandment of Jesus, who even went as far as to say that the whole Old Testament (the Jewish Bible) basically was saying this. But as both Jesus and President Obama hinted at, keeping these commandments is much harder than it sounds. As "simple as it is powerful" the President said of the message. So powerful that Jesus said "Give everything you have away...and follow me"-the true meaning of love of God and one's neighbor: total devotion and surrender to God. After all Jesus himself did just that on the cross. Thats a tough act to follow, and one we couldn't without his merciful grace.

    December 24, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  6. angel

    wow-such anger-terrible!

    December 24, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  7. HolyChrist

    Wait, wait, wait! I thought Obama was Muslim? Now which ignorant comment am I supposed to believe?

    December 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Ashtin

      Obama is a Christian...

      December 24, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  8. Trens

    It would be nice if the President remembered that his is not to give a religious message as President. Not all Americans are Chrisitians or "Believers". Obviously, he is thinking about the right wing and Chrisitian fundamentalists....and 2012

    December 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • FLADABOSCO

      I am a libertarian agnostic but presidents are allowed to have religious views and give them as part of a holiday message. It will take a much stronger president than Obama to admit they DON'T follow any religion.

      December 24, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • FLADABOSCO

      ...but I agree, he is spouting religion so he won't seem so foreign to the religious right.

      December 24, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  9. cmc

    I have no reason to believe that Bob Jones III has a brain. Where is the evidence that he uses a brain?

    December 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  10. Big sir

    Who cares about Michelle & Barack! We only care about jobs. Oback doesn't give a dam about our country & Michelle is a disgrace to our beliefs. Go back to Indonesia!

    December 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  11. Anon

    Obama please take a course in comparative religion to see what Christianity is. A complete and utter fraud.

    December 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  12. Pamela Vasquez

    I think it absurd that this even matters....who cares what he believes...he has the best interest of the public at heart. America was not founded as a christian nation.

    December 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • ellen brewster

      Pamela, you do not know your (our) history, only what secular pundits say. You have only to read the journals and papers of our founding fathers to recognize that we indeed are (were) a Christian nation founded on the principles of the Christian/Judaic Bible.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • HolyChrist

      Wow, Pamela. Do you realize why people came to America in the first place? To escape religious persecution in their countries. They wanted religious freedom! Recognize.

      December 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • HolyChrist

      Sorry, I meant "ellen".

      December 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  13. JESUS CHRIST

    i belive that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and maybe there is the last coming. it might be coming soon but only God knows

    December 6, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • HolyChrist

      ... and I'm not telling.

      December 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Reality

    The nitty-gritty:

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions
    *************************************************************************************************************************************

    December 6, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • .........

      Avoid the nitty gritty hit report abuse on reality bull sh it

      December 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Reality: Hick's logic doesn't hold. Are 95% of atheists born in atheistic families? What about those atheists born in Mecca?

      That is thinly veiled social determinism. And it fails its own test.

      December 6, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Keith

    *yawn*

    Man, it's difficult trying to keep up with someone as awesome as Tom Tom. It is so tough and beefy and powerful. I don't know how to deflect its skull-shattering e-jabs! Someone, anyone, please help me hone my CNN blog keyboard commando prowess!

    December 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Keith

      Look Tammy, I answered your stupid questions on page 24 under reply to George. Damn, you're dumb.

      December 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  16. PRISM 1234

    Hi, Keith
    Just getting back to you, responding on what you said about in-human hatred against God and His people in so many on these posts. I know what you're saying... It is demonic, and I believe what we're seeing is just a prelude of what will surface in not so far future... Too bad that many people don't understand that we are really living in those Last days, of which the Lord spoke.
    I too did not know that such violent hatred could even be in ordinary, every day people... I've been here and on other News Blogs now for about 3 years, and have to say that I have been "educated" more then any school could teach me about things of the spiritual realm, and what is actually happening e.i. what is the driving force beyond the scene in the world today. I believe the abyss of the "nether world" have released their "content" upon the face of the Earth in these days, because of what time is on God's time-line..... Yet , so many don't know that they are ruled by demonic forces who enslave them. I also believe that there is another holocaust coming, and the stage is being set for it right now. For this reason we have such onslaught of hypnotizing, systematic brainwashing of this generation, that they should become totally desensitised toward murdering another human beings... The popular entertainment is enormous tool of satan to accomplish this...
    But This time won't be Jews, but anyone who holds up and proclaims the Name of Jesus Christ in truth. That's where this animosity comes from , and it's going only to grow and be more blatant...
    But we know that our Lord said He will be with us to the end, and that nothing in this world, no powers, no principalities, no sickness, no persecution, nor any thing in this world, not even death itself, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    And we shall overcome him, satan and his army, by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.
    This is the heritage of all those who put their trust in Him. And just like the Lord who suffered for us, looking beyond the cross , seeing all those whom His sacrifice would save, the Morning star will arise in our hearts, and we will see Him in all His glory, longing for the day when He will split the skies and the Earth will tremble at the sight of His face.... But His people will be glorious, clothed in His righteousness!!!
    This is our blessed hope, the hope that's not like the hope world has, but the Hope that's only a time-distance away from becoming reality.
    And when He comes, He will bring His justice with Him..... I love the Book of Isaiah, Keith, I love the Book of Revelations... Because in them there is given a look at our LOVING God, but also a JUST God, who will bring His JUSTICE with Him, and will avenge every evil, executing judgment to those who committed it.... And those who suffered will see it and rejoice. Because our God is a tender shepherd to His sheep, who binds the wounds of the hurt , the lonely and castaways, BUT also, He is the fierce judge to those who have done evil, without caring whom they hurt, and in not repenting of it....
    And even the Earth itself is groaning for that day....
    Good to make your acquaintance, also, friend, and glad that your close family comes from that part of the world also! I am the only one from my family here, so I go and visit there sometimes. And although my home is here now, I'll never get that land across the Big Blue Pond out of my heart!
    Have a blessed evening, Friend!

    December 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Keith

      Yes PRISM1234, I agree-we appear to be in the last days. Saw an article from DebkaFile that said the Mid-East war could come as soon as one month. This is going to be extremely ugly when it happens. People seem to have no clue here. They'd rather talk about Michael Jackson's doctor. Please, be safe. I'm sure you know that our postings will be used to track us and be used as evidence against us if it comes to it. But He will never leave us nor forsake us. I look forward to seeing you someday-possibly real soon. God bless.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Guess it's time to check in and see what Marilyn Agee has to say about end times...

      December 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • PooCorn

      Oh, here we go with the last days crap. The difference between the idiots crying about the "last days" 100 years ago and the same kinds of idiots crying about it today is only the media coverage. Since we have much better media coverage today, we hear about every last little thing that happens in the world. So all the nut-jobs think everything is getting worse when in fact, it isn't. Calm down. We aren't in any "last days." Morons have been preaching the same stupidity for centuries. You are no different, and you have nothing new to say. Thanks in advance for not posting any more of this stupidity.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      oooooooh, the "last days". Betcha Keith has read all the "Left Behind" crap.

      December 5, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Keith

      tammy, you need your med's adjusted. And yes, my real name is Keith. How cowardly of me to use my real name. Seriously, if I made up a name, do you really think it would be "Keith"?

      December 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "Tom", not "tammy", and no, "Keith" certainly wouldn't be my choice for a name, made-up or otherwise.

      If you're so courageous, why not post your last name and your phone number, along with your e-mail address, oh might warrior?

      December 5, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • The Rules

      We here encourage all posters to have a lively discussion, however we DO NOT encourage exchanging e-mails, full names and phone numbers to protect your own privacy and to avoid harassement from 'unwanted elements' that may be lurking around!

      December 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Keith

      "Oh mighty warrior?"

      Talk about mind blowing typing skills. Guess that's what happens to those who are "impaired."

      December 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Keith

      I can't even make the mistake. It's so ingrained in me not to be a moron.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That should tell you something, Keith. But I doubt you'll grasp it.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder how much time you'll spend here, Keith, avoiding answering the questions you've been asked by attacking me. You have managed to avoid giving answers for two days now, and I don't see any sign that you intend to answer the questions posed by HotAir or by me.

      Sleep tight, little hypocrite.

      December 5, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Keith

      Ahhhhhhhhhhh, far less than the months you've wasted attacking people here because you think you're actually making a difference. Maybe the "might" jesus can zap you healed and skinny out of that there wheelchair and you won't be so bitter and obtuse anymore. Sleep tight, bunt cake!

      December 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Keith

      I'll post this here too, tammy since you seem to be too stupid to go back and find it yourself-I answered your idiotic questions back on page 24 under reply to George. I don't fear you or your moronic canadian pal. Quite honestly, you are a liar, a deceiver, and you're just not that smart-it's hard to want to engage you conversation. Your impersonating is the topper. You are a joke.

      December 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Keith, re: answers on page 24, I don't see answers to my questions to George about abortion, that Tom "relayed" to you. I assume you mean me when you refer to Tom's "moronic canadian pal" – please explain why you consider me moronic.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Believers and non-believers might want to check out Marilyn Agee's latest on the return of jesus:

      http://prophecycorner.theforeverfamily.com/procon1639.html

      Will be interesting to see if she gets it right this time, but given the frequency of her predictions, any apparent success could be due to random chance.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Keith

      Ace, I contend that the premise of your question is flawed. I don't buy the 70% or whatever the ridiculously high and unproportionate stat was. Let me expound a bit. There is an article in the Christian Post dated Mon, April 18, 2011 06:08 PM EDT. In it there is some startling research about those who claim the name of "born again Chistian". Bottom line-many who claim the name are not actually Christian. As far as the moron comment-you pal around with tammy don't you?

      December 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Keith

      Sorry to bust your bubble, but I don't know who Marilyn Agee is.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Keith, as expected you attacked the data, without showing that it is wrong. You also call into question who is or is not a christian. You will do anything to not answer the legitimate question "why do believers so flagrantly ignore their cult's rules?". You are a hypocrite!

      With respect to me being pals with Tom, I only know her from her postings in here – we have never met. That being said, while I do not always agree with her presentation style or every point she makes, just as I'm sure she and others do not always agree with me, we probably agree more than not on religion and believers. All that being said, I'd much rather be lumped in with her than suffer the embarrassment of being in the same group as you, George, Herbie, HeavenScent or any of the other rabid (and often self-professed christians). You lot make it very easy to be an atheist, and are likely way better at demonstrating the stupidity of religion than I ever will be.

      December 8, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Marilyn is a rabid believer who continuously predicts major religious dates associated with end times. She has never been correct.

      December 8, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Keith

      I think I'm agreeing more and more with Captain America about you. "cult"? "hypocrite"? You are useless.

      December 9, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • De-Nice

      This was beautiful. Thank You!!

      December 14, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  17. ?

    "Religion" isn't the central cause of violence and discrimination, People are. Irregardless of people's beliefs, we are still capable of performing the same discriminatory acts as some claim spur from religious belief; the human heart is capable of boundless acts. The most "religious" person isn't correctly following their own religion. Often I've seen people grow up with "religion" which is really tradition shoved down their throat (myself included) not given a chance to decide from themselves. When this happens hypocrisy of religious leaders turns you off or hurts you with an expectation of "obedience" this in my opinion is wrong. But what it seems like to me is that we equate "Religion" with what I call "Religiosity" or "Religious Hypocrisy". One thing I do agree with is that Religion or "Religiosity" takes God and uses him in what he wants to do that is control for some benefit to that man whoever he may be. But if you actually investigate the manner, God and "Religion" are two different people.

    December 5, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • PooCorn

      Before some grammar nazi has a fit:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless

      December 5, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • ?

      Gotcha thanks!

      December 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.