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. Natural Selection

    First of all, he is lying. I can spot an Agnostic, not diffucult.

    Two, I am very glad is is stepping up and lying. If we want an intelligent person in the White House, they have to lie. Otherwise stupid Christian Americans won't vote for that person.

    Three: Note that he hasn't said God told him to run for office. Thank God.

    Four: We need Obama, and we need American's to step up and say NO to the stupidity and greed of the GOP.

    December 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Alois

      You may need obama but the rest of this nation does not.One thing you did get right ,he is a chronic liar and cannot be trusted.

      December 2, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Natural Selection

      Alois, what DOES this nation need?

      December 2, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Natural Selection

      Alois, hello? You still there? You think the GOP canidates can be trusted do you? They all say they talk to God. Do you think they all talk to God? They should be placed in an asylum. Which one does God love the most? Which country does God love the most? Which Planet? Which Galaxy? Which Universe?

      December 2, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • You lie too

      First of all, your are lying. You can not spot an Agnostic, it is diffucult because only God knows the hearts of men.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  2. hawaiiduude

    jews are anti-jesus more than any religion on earth. They try to secularize christmas as much as possible but never do we christians get to secularize hanakah. Did anyone else notice this peculararity? Glad obama put jesus back into christmas.

    December 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • Hey logger

      In the same breath that you spoke of Jesus, you spoke of hatred, stereotyping, racism, false witness and judging others. Think before you speak... and think about what you believe.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  3. Steven

    I am sure now that Obama has brought Christ and Jesus into his speeches the GOP will find something wrong with it.

    December 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      yup. They will because it doesn't fit with zionism.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Shad

      Well said Steve. I am sure the likes of Mitch Mconnel, Palin, Bachman and some people think they are more Christian than Obama is. Sooo pathetic because it's only God and Jesus Christ in heaven who know if you are true Christian or not.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • sara

      All I know is Christians do not SPEAK the way some of these people speak....hateful. Christians Don't Behave that way What you think is what you become. Haters.

      December 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  4. Mary

    Thank you Dante.... truth...

    December 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  5. HeIsGod

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

    Who cares about what Jones or anyone thinks or says about Obama's faith? Is he God to know the heart and mind of Obama? NO!

    December 1, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      bob jones is the anti-christ zionist supporter

      December 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • God

      bob jones smokes poles

      December 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  6. Dan of The Prophecy Society

    As a Bible-believing Christian, I am ashamed of Bob Jones III.

    December 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Dave


      December 2, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  7. max

    let the man live

    December 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  8. max ringelheim

    i disagree with this article....let him live

    December 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  9. Brad

    Why again do we care what his religion is? Because it really doesn't matter

    December 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  10. Post

    @Tom - you actually believe Larry Sinclair?

    December 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  11. henry

    Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru.. salam damai dari Indonesia

    December 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  12. Gary Pakes

    I find it hard to believe your statement that only a minority of Americans thought Obama was a Christian when asked last year. I guess people believe the Republican spin rather than read numerous biographies of Obama that are on the Internet. That is sad, because it means many people believe lies are the truth. What could be more Christian than Obama's Health Care Act which brings health care to 32 million more American citizens—some of them poor Pre-Obamacare, those of us with health insurance ended up, through our high premiums, paying for some people who had no care. In contrast, under Obamacare, each American acknowledges his or her responsibility to provide a payment that fairly factors in their income so that they can have insurance. Because insurance companies will have to compete for providing healthcare to our citizens, this will drive the price of insurance down. Ultimately, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this act alone will lower U.S. deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years. Then, there is the American Jobs Act, which would put millions of Americans to work. Sure, the wealthiest Americans would be taxed more to help set this up, but, it is fairer for them to pay the taxes than the middle class. Some call this socialism, but to me these programs that help disenfranchised Americans is Christianity. I close with a couple of supportive quotes from the New Testament– 1 Tim. 6:17 "Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment." 1 Tim. 6:18 "Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need".

    December 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Mildred the Mouth

      What's so suprising ? 50 % of American's can't answer "around what celestial object does the earth rotate?" Have you never watched "Jay Walking" ? These people vote.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Brian

      Actually, the earth doesn't "rotate" around anything except its own axis. It "revolves" around the sun.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Mike

      Actually, Brian, if it's rotating on its axis while revolving around the Sun, isn't it technically rotating while revolving around the sun, so it's "rotating around the Sun"?

      December 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • crazypete

      Actually, what it is rotating around is defined by an arbitrary reference point. Relative to the earth, the sun rotates around it. Relative to the sun, the earth rotates around it. Everything is relative (until you get into physics approaching the speed of light which is where Albert comes in).

      December 2, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  13. Phil

    Speaking of President Barack Obama, Bob Jones III says, "Where is the evidence that he is a Christian?"
    Many of us, myself included, would ask the same question about Bob Jones III.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  14. Science

    Separation of church and state. Period. Regardless of the fact that religious is in it's purest sense irrational and completely useless in a modern society, political leaders must resist the temptations from garnering votes through religious polarizations.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • jon

      Separation of church and state is the most misunderstood concept in modern America. It simply means that the State will not establish a State Church or Religion. It says nothing about keeping the public square naked and secular. Some of the very people who formulated the concept of separation between church and state spoke religiously in public and politics. It's time to get our facts straight.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • tallulah13


      The President of the United States and all elected officials of this nation are responsible for representing ALL of the people, not just the ones who share their beliefs. Thus, religion has no place in the government of this country. Perhaps as a christian, you don't mind that other people might be marginalized, but that is your despi.cable bias, and has no place in a country "of the people, by the people and for the people."

      No one should stop you from private worship or public display, as long as your religious display is privately funded on private property.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • jon

      tallulah – you are leveling some very serious accusations against me, which I find odd since I said nothing at all about my personal beliefs. How do you know what my personal convictions are? I was simply stating the substance behind the concept of separation of C/S. Why would you accuse me of having a "desp.icable bias"? I said nothing that was divisive or dismissive of others. You are the one making assumptions. And by the way, the president is also an individual who is allowed to express his own personal beliefs. He is an elected official, but he doesn't represent 300 million people in everything he does. That is philosophically (not to mention politically) absurd.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Tim E

      I agree with Jon, and I'm an atheist. But it doesn't matter whether I'm an atheist or a theist–the establishment clause forbids Congress to make a law that establishes a religion or a law that prohibits the free practice of religion. Obama isn't a member of Congress, and by making a speech at a White House Christmas tree he isn't making a law.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Pardon me, jon, if I misjudged you. However, the rest of my post stands. This is a secular nation and religious displays should not be funded by public money, nor should they be placed on public lands, unless of course, all religions (and lack thereof) are represented equally.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Admon

      Tim, that's not what the First Amendment says at all.

      Here's the text of the First Amendment from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html :

      Amendment I
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      See where it says "make no law RESPECTING an establishment of religion"? And you are trying to say it only says it can't establish one. Well that's not the whole story, is it?

      December 2, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • ThsIsNotReal22

      The word respecting in this case means "regarding". It's not the word respect, in the sense of "I respect you."

      And again, even if you are correct and congress is now allowed to pass a law that "respects" a religion, the point still stands that Obama making a speech about his personal beliefs is not "making a law". This restriction is on congress, NOT the president.

      December 2, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • jon

      Admon – thanks for providing the text (and therefore my prior point). The key word is "establishing", not "respecting." And the previous poster is correct: it has nothing to do with respect as in "value." It simply means "regarding."

      December 2, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  15. TICKED

    I am sick and tired of so many people esp Rep who tear apart the President's faith, he is not a Pharisee like so many of the GOP. Just because they are white and GOP does it mean they have credibility when they declare they are a follower of Jesus? Bob Jones is everything Jesus is not, how ignorant.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  16. Eric

    Only more reason to fuel the "anti-christ" theorists.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  17. Pastafarian

    religion is stupid. period.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • fda

      you can say that, but billions think the same of you.
      You're not a pioneer, you're a mo r0n

      December 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Tom


      December 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Nice baseless name calling, fda. I'm sure your god is proud of you when you lie about people that don't have the same beliefs as you. Obviously the 10 Commandments are just suggestions to good christians like yourself.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • fda

      Im lying that billions of people are religious? And you can still love thy neighbor and call him a mo r0n...

      December 1, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • cdc

      fda is a moron. a really fukking stupid moron that is.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      fda, when you called Pastafarian an moron, you stated your opinion as if it was a fact. That is the same as lying. You are a liar.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • jessica

      you said that right religion is stupid along with all the religious holidays

      December 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  18. ElectionTime

    Must be getting close to the Election...He will say ANYTHING to get elected.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And those republican pundits have been lying about him since before he was elected. I suspect President Obama was laying it on a bit thick, but there is nothing to indicate he is lying when he says he is a christian.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Shad

      How about those Republicans runnig from one church to another campaigning? Don't be a HYPOCRTIE ElectionTime.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  19. Dante

    Obama...a Christian fellow who has been faithful to the same wife for over 20 years...at least he walks the walk.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tom

      So you believe without question even though Larry Sinclair came forth and told the media about his affair with Obama in 1999 but the media ignored it never once even asked Obama about it but when it comes to Herman Cain oh my you racist liberals must vehemently attack him and call him a racist of pretty white woman at least it was a woman.

      December 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Wow, Tom. Your post might have been more coherent if you understood basic punctuation and grammar.

      Larry Sinclair has a history of crimes involving deceit. He also failed a lie detector test. He wrote a book and tried to profit from his claims. He provided no proof. Do you understand why he is not a credible witness?

      Herman Cain has more than one accuser and has been giving money to one of those women for 13 years. None of these women have written a book. The one who says she was his mistress (with emails to prove at least he was contacting her on a regular basis) stands to lose by coming forward. I don't know what the outcome of these accusations will be, but at least these women should be given a chance to take a lie detector test, as President Obama's accuser was allowed.

      Do you not believe Cain's accusers because they are women? You accuse others of racism, but what of your own misogyny?

      December 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  20. Post 1

    I think we should all use the clearest legal language we can when making out property deeds.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:17 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.