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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. layla

    who the F cares whether Obama is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or a freaking devil worshiper?! The Republicans need to get off their high horses – we elect a president based on their ability to get the job done, NOT by their religion!!!!! what is this, the 21st century form of discrimination? GET. OVER. IT.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      layla from la la.....you should care. you will care shortly when his lack of morals destroys your la la land. Ever been in a food line? Ever been told you can't blog? Ever been under marshall law? Get ready. Bet you'll care then.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Dixie

      Well said!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • jorgath

      Plus, even if he were not a Christian, the message of "love God, love your neighbor" is a good one for ANY leader to be promoting.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • jorgath

      Atheist Hunter - guess you haven't heard the news that unemployment is DOWN.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • yeahalright

      Athiest Hunter you're a psycopath. Marshall Law? Yeah? That's coming? Lunatic. Stay away from other people.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Considering a reborn christian helped put the patriot act up that is just wrong.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      It's actually "Martial" not "Marshall" law. Marshall is a university in West Virginia. Perhaps you saw the movie.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  2. vangrungy

    Notice how Obama doesn't actually say His name.. Look at the quotes closely.. just Christ is used by Obama

    and this quote "He was a manifestation of God’s love for us".. This is Baha'i interpretation..

    December 2, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Yes he never acknowledges him as God's only Son and the saviour of the world. Obama is a typical lying politician.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Wow you people are seriously crazy. There have been thousands of religions and prophets and you so stuck on one stressing semantics. It would be funny if I didn't have to share a planet let alone a republic with you.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Nacho1

      Rev Wright wrote the speech for him.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • jorgath

      Wow. You know, half the time the Apostle Paul only calls him "Christ" in the letters. Does that make him not a Christian? Cause Obama does say "Jesus" sometimes.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Nonimus

      Umm... isn't "Christ", meaning messiah, the important part anyway?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Lisa C

      Barack Obama publicly professed his faith on national television in 2008 (even thought he didn't have to). That which included the name of Jesus Christ and the recognition of Him as the Son of God. Sorry you didn't catch that. But, if you are of the same faith, it would be wise to refrain from lying on your brother in Christ. 🙂

      December 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • sara

      Oh, so now he's jewish. He said what he said! Wasn't "christian enough"?

      December 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  3. Clouds 9

    Christmas and the Santa Claus legend are from and rooted in pagan history. Silly Christians.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL RELIGIONS!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Rob

      I'm with you! I've never been really religious, but I love spending time with family anf friends and giving gifts..I did all my shopping on line last year and got everyone on my list this hilarious, cheap, beginners cookbook .. it's called. well.. I can't tell you the name of it here cause some of you will freak out, but if you google "whipped & bea ten culinary works" you can find it..but seriously, don't go if you can't take a good joke or if you get offended easily...

      December 2, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • CosmicC

      What about us atheists?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  4. Susan

    As a Jew, I was happy to read that Obama didn't water down his speech with references to the "season" or any other holiday. A Christmas tree is a symbol of Christmas and Christmas is for people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, etc.
    As a human being, I feel sad that he still has to defend his faith. He shouldn't bother – people like Bob Jones III will never change their minds, as they are fixated on Obama's "unAmerican" name and of course color.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • sara

      Exactly

      December 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  5. pumpkinseeds

    M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S !!!!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  6. Atheist Hunter

    Obama is a liar and all the blind atheists and others who live in la la land will praise him to the next great depression. Wake up people.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • jimbo

      I'm an athiest against Obama, how about that smarty pants.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Do you know of any Politician (or Religious Leader) that is not a liar?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Define "la la land", it seems to me that the believers are in la la land. As a believer you have to believe in things, ideas and concepts that you Know are not true or possible.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      la la land.....your so called "christian" president has us in a debt to an extent we will never recover and you don't see it, he is killing our children and destroying our future and you can't see it, he is selling us out to islam and you can't see it, shall I keep going? That's atheist la la land.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      @JohnQuest, do you know any human that is not a liar?

      December 2, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • sara

      Did the other one lead you into debt> Was he a Christian? What do you read? Can you read.....why are you so bitter and hateful.? Don't bother to anwer....I already know.

      December 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  7. Clouds 9

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

    SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Without God there won't be a state!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • BRC

      No, without "God" there won't beChristian churches, the state will be just fine.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • What?

      What is the correlation between god and the well being of the state? The only thing I see is religion holding back the progression of the world. Especially when it comes to topics such as medical advancements.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  8. pumpkinseeds

    I do not, for one second, believe Barack believes what he said. He's no Christian and we all know it. He's just pandering for the Christian vote and we Christians are not falling for it. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • jimbo

      You obviously make your voting decisions based on religion, that is really ignorant. I don't like Obama anymore than you but you don't seem too intelligent.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • warmesTghosT

      Why not? You Christians fall for just about everything else.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Hmmm...

      It doesn't seem very christianlike to question another christian's beliefs...

      December 2, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @pumpkindseeds

      Possibly you are right. Obama's message can satisfy Muslims and nominal (superficial) Christians at the same time. Obama mentions Christian love, the humble heart of Jesus, the prophethood of Jesus, etc..

      However, the main point of Christmas is that God became man. Obama has concealed the main point of the Christmas message. I imply that Obama did this deliberately, in order to avoid any conflict with the Muslims. Of course, he knows that many naive, nominal Christians will not realize his cunning.

      Obama's message sounds like the following verse of the unholy Koran: He (Jesus) was a word and a spirit from Allah.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  9. Sampsonite

    today was but with bridge to another county and then some.
    i can't happen but to with and my house on hill side
    they came and house you told friends
    but righful compare to rough side of train tracks downtown
    came upon to the with castle clouds

    told me number seventeen gilded lantern to bear
    happen with the right side ground effect
    tough sometimes year ten fold five
    soothing calm and he with but there was house

    finally, see water and animal to end
    high up rightful year to be her best thing
    plow, harvest, sow – such is way of thing
    another time ground land

    December 2, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • seriously

      Ding dong bell,
      Puss's is in the well..

      December 2, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  10. Kris

    To Dennis ... Your statement about mine appears to be coming from a religious mind-set in turning around MY argument as a reversal-argument to make your own point. How typical. A person obviously "believe" what they want. Yes I think religions are rubbish and all people are free to believe what they want and voice their opinions. People can (and DO) do good-deeds and be civil without religion. THAT is not rubbish!

    Dennis

    Kris,
    What a person believes and lives by is their "religion". Since you believe all religions are "rubbish, abusive to all it's participants and will be the down-fall of humans. Progress cannot proceed with religion" then one can only conclude that your statement is rubbish, abusive to all it's participants and will be the down-fall of humans.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  11. jimbo

    It's no suprise why Al Qaeda and other muslim extremists think that we are partaking in a holy war with them. We say it has nothing to do with religion but they see our commander and chief talking about Jesus then we drop bombs from drones on them it sure comes off as something it's not meant to be. I'm no sympathizer of the muslim extremist but having our leaders speak of religion isn't helping anyone other than the commander and chief to get more votes.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • J

      Or how about he is trying to sway the conservative Christian votes towards him

      December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      @J, he's not trying to sway conservative votes. He knows he has little shot at that. He's trying to sway independent votes.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  12. Think about it

    I will always remember in college I had a deeply religious history professor. One day in class he was talking about a civilization (which I have since forgotten the name) where the leader completely made up a god with the sole intention of controlling his people. I just do not understand how someone could teach stories like this year after year, yet believe so much in another religion.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  13. Josh Lillie

    Christianity, along with most religions, is nothing more than an adult version of Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. Children do not love Santa Clause, they love the presents that Santa Clause brings and the notion that they are special and deserving of gifts. If you took away those gifts, children would not line up to see Santa, they would not leave out milk and cookies, they might even find him to be scary.

    The same is true of this “god”. The faithful think they love god, but it is themselves that they are worshipping. These people believe that they are immortal, and created in the image of a god, and they deserve to live for eternity in paradise, while others who think otherwise deserve eternal suffering. Their faith in “god” is nothing more than their delusions of godlike immortality.

    When an older kid tells a child the truth – that there is no Santa – they will not believe him. Sure the presents all have mom and dad’s handwriting on them, the milk and cookies turned up in the trash can, but there’s just no way that Mom and Dad would lie… right??

    Grow up kids. You weren’t created in the image of a god. You’re not going to live forever in “paradise” with Grandma and Grandpa and your pet dog Sparky. You’re just a person. And when you die, life will go on without you as it has for millions of years.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • AndyB

      Amen!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Rita Shelten

      I can't believe I'm agreeing with a comment on cnn but...I completely agree.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  14. Marry

    Bob Jones: ‘Where is the evidence that he is a Christian?’ MR. JONES, to say that shows that you do not even look at the President and if you had paid attention and you still feel that way – YOU have no idea WHAT A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE!!!
    I say, in the Presidents deeds, in what he does, in the example he sets with his family, in being very patient and polite towards his foes, in his love of the people (yes, the 99% as well) and I could go on and on!
    In other words, he does not behave like the GOP/TP Greed over Need anything goes to grab power people!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • CosmicC

      More succinctly: I have seen no evidence that Bob Jones is a Christian.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  15. brian

    Who cares about his 'christian' message.
    Religion and government are not supposed to mix, and they shouldnt.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Susan

      The message was appropriate for the occasion, the lighting of a Christmas tree. Whether or not the occasion itself represents a violation of seperation of church and state....well, you have a point there!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  16. Rob

    I've never been really religious, but I love spending time with family anf friends and giving gifts..I did all my shopping on line last year and got everyone on my list this hilarious, cheap, beginners cookbook .. it's called. well.. I can't tell you the name of it here cause some of you will freak out, but if you google "whipped & bea ten culinary works" you can find it..but seriously, don't go if you can't take a good joke or if you get offended easily...

    December 2, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  17. Eula Ione Whitney

    1 Tim 2:1-2 Pray for Pres Obama who is in authority to lead America so we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. I saturate the Obama family with the love of Christ and the joy of the Lord is their strength. Merry Christmas Pres Obama, Lady Michelle & girls. Thank you for your continued service.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  18. Cuervo Jones

    hahahahaha Bob Jones thinks he defines christianity. he could work as chaplain to the klan , that would not seem hypocritical

    December 2, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  19. anon-i-mouse

    How come so many "Christians" are the most hateful, intolorant, non-Christ-like people in the world? Reading the hate spewed on these message boards is unbelieveable!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • sara

      and CNN should be ashamed of itself. They're turning into a supporter of ignorancy and the dumming down of America. I started watching CNN when Bernard Shaw was a reporter and since he's left....it's getting worse by the decades. out of here. Too much hate has divided this country and CNN and Bob Jones II are part of the problem.

      December 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  20. Derek

    Bob Jones III says he has no reason to think that Obama is a Christian. You could say the same thing about most Republican Politicians. Today's standards for being a Christian seems to be hate the gays, hate the poor, hate the muslims, and hate the government. All the other stuff in the Bible is just filler.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Nathaniel

      Derek,
      The idea of hate is completely the opposite of what we Christians believe. You may be confusing us with the hundreds of hypocrites around. (Just like thousands of Americans confuse loving Muslims with fanatical terrorists!) At the core of our faith, and for some of us our lives, is LOVE.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • AndyB

      Nathaniel: Why do you need Christ to love? If so many people use Christianity to evil ends, why not just get rid of Christianity and keep the love?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:28 am |
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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.