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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. Peter

    Bob Jones asked "Where is the evidence that he (Obama) is Chrsitian?". Well, Bob, you can start with many on the right–maybe even you–going nuts not long ago about Obama being a member of the Reverend Wright's Trinity BAPTIST Chuch for TWENTY YEARS!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Dean

      Also, could someone please explain to Rev. Jones (and the combo of "Reverend" and "Jones" is one that should always give you paused) that "evidence" and "faith" are incompatible. Also, can we be honest that, given his University's only recently changed rules on biracial dating, Rev. Jones may have more a problem with our President's bi-racial parentage than anything else?

      December 2, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  2. Silly Article

    Last I knew, Christmas IS a Christian holiday! So what's the big deal that he spoke to the point of the holiday? I don't see the atheists complaining that they get that day off from work.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Zeke2112

      Ummmm...no. Christmas is a blatant theft of a Pagan holiday, the winter solstice. It was stolen by Christians to agree with their fanciful tale. But thanks for playing!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Snc735

      I could care less if I got the day off from work or not. You also need to study a little history and see that this holiday has been hijacked by Christians.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      plus he was acting as the President of the USA and essentially addressing the national about a religious topic which is a no-no, and just because all the other Presidents in the past have done it still don't make it right.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  3. D

    5 words. Separation of Church and State.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Yo!

      "5 words. Separation of Church and State."

      That's 7 words. 😉

      December 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    "O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. and Allah is sufficient as Defender."

    ( سورة النساء , An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #171 of the Koran)

    Ain't that, what Obama believes?

    Isn't this similar to Obama's statement?: "He was a manifestation of God's love for us."

    The truth: Jesus himself is THE manifestation. Jesus is God himself.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Exactly...obama is a lying muslim. they allow lying to further their jihad.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Atheist Hunter,
      Still bent out of shape over the birth certificate, eh?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Peter

      "Obama is a lying Muslim". Oh, stop your paranoid nonsense.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Atheist Hunter

      I could imagine that Obama is a unitarian or a Neo-Arian. They both deny the divine sonship of Jesus Christ like the Islam.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Funny

      Putting words in other people’s mouths much? Or maybe you truly have 100% knowledge of others motive or intent? That's impressive if you do! I noticed how non-judgmental you are, and I'm wondering... how much time do you spend reading the Koran?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • And to "Athiest Hunter"

      Are you all sure you don't have a redwood in your eyes? Your comments are very assured and condemning. It would not be fun to be judged by YOUR OWN standards!! You might want to think about what you say and how you represent Christ online!

      December 2, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  5. Fenzz

    Where is Jo-Bob-Jones South Carolina's proof that he is a Christian? I don't remember getting any kind of visible Christian Certificate of Authenticity upon my Baptism.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Obama is the one trying to sell it. Let's see his proof!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Peter

      Let's see his proof?!? What? What??? Not long ago, many on the right went nuts about Obama being a member of Reverend Wright's Trinity BAPTIST Church for TWENTY YEARS. Suddenly, they have amnesia.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Rev. Wright is a joke!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  6. ExphDK

    So man makes christian themed speech during a christmas celebration....

    failing to see the problem here.

    I think congress, instead of a defense bill it passed, pass a bill to create a special giant cliff where these idiots that complain about useless crap can throw themselves off of.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • yeahalright

      The problem is – if he made a jewish themed speech during yom kippur, people would be up in arms. If he made an islam themed speech during ramadan, people would completely lose it. If he made an athiest centered speech, well, ever, he'd be declared the antichrist by an even larger segment of lunatics in this country. Bottom line is you only think it's not a big deal because it's your religion.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      Right on, yeahalright.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  7. Atheist Hunter

    you will know them by their fruit.....ye are of your father the devil!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      I have said it before... It is just silly to think that if their is a creator of this vast cosmos has an arch enemy that he fights with over the souls of a bunch of pink monkeys on a spec of dust.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      yes, what makes more sense is that suddenly 140mph winds are destroying our east coast for no reason. the fish are dying and no one can explain it, the economy is failing worldwide and no one can explain or fix that, tornados are ripping through the land like never before, their is draught and famine on unprecendented levels worldwide just as the Bible predicts, Iran has nuclear capabilities and is hellbent to destroy israel, word for word, timeline accurate to a T and it's a coincidence. WHATEVER! Go back to your la la land. He'll wake you up soon!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • BRC

      @Atheist Hunter,
      Your lack of understanding of natural phenomena (or the cyclical nature of Earth's environment), and your personal interpretations of current events, are not proof of books written by individuals trying to gain power and control 2000 years ago. They are an excellent study into the human psychy, and the ability of our minds to fold and fit perceptions into our desires, but they do not serve as proof or evidence on any reasonable or logical scale. If you do somehow find actual evidence to support your opinions, we're all ears.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • claybigsby

      actually you should read the news....we understand how the economy got to where it is today and know how to fix it. Things like this dont just happen over night though. And the fact that you are hearing about more and more natural disasters is because we have a thing in the 21st century called the internet, where information travels at light speed across the world. 2000 years ago, people in israel didnt even know north america existed, and wouldnt ever hear of earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes over on this side of the world. Dont be ignorant.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Im sure the middle ages and the plague were a far more pleasant and less apocalyptic time than today.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • yeahalright

      You're like a caveman praying to the sky and sacrificing virgins when it thunders. Go learn something.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  8. my opinion

    Some of the statements here are completely ridiculous stating that you should accept all people and in the same paragraph completely bashing Christians. Maybe some people should look in a mirror and understand tolerance before telling others what is right and wrong.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  9. Jim

    I still find it interesting that a government official professes his faith and many go nuts with the idea that this is somehow a violation of the separation of church and state. The separation of church and state simply says that Congress shall make no LAW that favors or REQUIRES that any US citizen follow or avoid something religious in nature. Quite a difference.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Absolutely, as an atheist he can believe in whatever he wants as long as it does not effect his decision making. I have a problem when the voting public cares what he believes in.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      hasa........that's the dumbest thing I've ever read, "I have a problem when voting people cares what the president of the united states believes in." HELLO!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      In terms of faith, in the context that is obviously what I meant... hello

      December 2, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      hasa.... your faith is the basis for your morals. your morals are the determining factor in how you will rule a nation. HELLO!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Atheist Hunter, you are equivocating, you know Hasa Diga Eebowai is only referring to Religious beliefs. and has already stated that religious belief should not effect policy decisions.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      If you have actually read any abrahamic relgion's text you would realize that our morals have come a LONG WAY and we should be using morals from at least 2,000 years ago. Maybe I am wrong and if someone does truly believe these texts word for word that is a reason for concern.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      **we should be "not" using

      December 2, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  10. Carlton

    Jesus Christ is Lord and King!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • yeahalright

      of your imagination.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Of sheep... bah

      December 2, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Every knee will bow and sooner than all you realize. Remember this day and your comments, He will!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Sooner then you realize... people have been saying that for 2,000 years. I guess we have different definitions of "soon".

      December 2, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Atheist Survived

      Yes.. Jesus brings rickets.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • yeahalright

      Makes you feel better doesn't it, athiest hunter – all us heathens are going to be burned forever. Face it, you're insecure, scared of death, and want to feel better than other people. Seeing as you don't have natural or earned advantages of intelligence or hard work – you take the much easier route of pointing your finger and going "you all will burn someday you'll see nanynanypoopoo"

      December 2, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Yeahal, i don't think Ayn Rand could have said it better.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  11. JohnQuest

    Atheist Hunter, I do not agree with a few of the President Policies. But you lose all credibility when you make a claim without providing proof, (as a Christian I'm certain you are use to making and believing claims without proof). We that live in the Real World require at a minimum that a statement be true (verifiable).

    December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      what are you referring to and I will provide proof?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • jorgath

      That Obama is not Christian is the thing you need to prove. See, he has, several times, professed his faith that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior, and I think there's a record somewhere that he was baptized and has taken communion. That makes him Christian. Period.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Yo!

      "what are you referring to and I will provide proof?"

      Proof your god exists moron.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • David

      Okay, here is the proof as succinctly as I can. Everything finite, that is everything existing in time, has a cause of beginning outside of itself. The universe and everything in it (including you) began and will end. This is the cosmological argument. A teleological argument exists as well. This is based on a design and purpose in the universe that exits beyond the scope of human activity or even ability. Look to Saint Thomas Aquinas' five ways or similarly Averroes' argument. Cicero makes an argument (De Natura Deorim) related to reason which exists throughout the universe. This is somewhat related to Immanuel Kant's Transcendental argument drawing on pure reason and morality as proof. There is, as always, the Holy Bible as well.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      @David, are you claiming these things to be proof of the existence of a god? I think you just made an enormous logical leap.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  12. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    If you want to know what a lack of separation of church and state looks like just visit the middle east.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  13. jim

    Curt is an excellent example of the tinfoil hat/conspiracy/ lunatic fringe that dominates the GOP. This is why American politics are dysfunctional. Hatefill bigots are somehow granted an equal standing with responsible citizens who happen to differ. Pres. Obama is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, so he does what feels right for himself, which is delivering a heartfelt message about a Christian holiday. Good for him. I, for one, cannot understand how anyone with an IQ over 80 can be fooled by any of this oldmaninthesky nonsense.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  14. Nonimus

    Sorry, Bob Jones III, didn't Obama show you his Christ-ee decoder ring?

    December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  15. Nacho1

    Yeah.......I can hear him now...."Allah be praised.....Allah be praised"!

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

      Your imaginary friend is no better than theirs. Sorry.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      We get it Nacho1. You'd rather believe a lie that makes you happy than the truth. I'm thinking you're a christian as well as a republican.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Rita Shelten

      What are you even trying to say?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  16. FIELD1stSGT

    The irony of this, Obama delivering a Christian speech. BAH! He is no mor e Christian than he is a citizen of the U.S. Impeach this fraud now. The muslim imposter.

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

      Aaaaaaaaaand this is why people don't like Christians.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Rita Shelten

      Try harder, bigot

      December 2, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • jorgath

      "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are not much like your Christ." – Gandhi

      December 2, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • tallulah13

      @FIELD1stSGT

      Please provide proof of your accusations. A lot of republican blowhards, paid and otherwise, have made these accusations, but not one of them have provided any proof. Accusations without substance are the same thing as lies. Why do christians feel that lying is a virtue, when the bible says otherwise?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      You do know that it's actually okay for a President to be a Muslim, right? This President happens to not be a Muslim, but that doesn't mean it's unallowable for future Presidents to be Muslim.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Nonimus

      troll

      December 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  17. Emm

    Good for him! He's Christian, and he has the freedom of speech to express his faith. No censorship. If he were Jewish or Muslim I'd expect no less from him!

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

      Nor any more from him!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  18. Ustaxpayer65

    Ok, to all of you who want X-mas out, good for you its just another day on the calender, don't buy any presents, no holiday pay, gee I'm already saving oodles of money.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  19. chill

    Dear Bob Jones. It must suck to hate someone so badly as to be blind to anything that speaks to the contrary. Makes me wonder where the evidence of your Christianity is.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  20. warmesTghosT

    The most basic tenant of Christianity that I don't understand:

    If Christ was the Son of God, and knew he was a divine being during his life and ministry, how do you consider his death on the cross a sacrifice?

    What is death to God?

    December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Nacho1

      You will have the answer to that personally on December 21 2012!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • warmesTghosT

      Ooooh boy I can't wait! Although, May 21 2011 was kind of a let down. And October 21. And every single other time you deluded simpletons have been wrong.

      Keep praying for armageddon though, buddy, shows what a caring loving Christian you are!

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

      There's plenty more completely illogical gobbledyguk where that came from. Do yourself a favor and don't even bother. Live life in reality.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • BRC

      You mean a day set forth by a Pagan society that had no belief or concept of the Christian "God", and whose predictions are technically a heresy to anyone claiming to be a christian?

      December 2, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • ***

      warmesT,

      tenant = renter
      tenet = belief

      December 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      I know, I was typing fast and didn't proofread =P

      Thanks though.

      December 2, 2011 at 9:48 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.