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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. SoFunny

    Bob Jones a real Christian, I think NOT. Bob Jones spreads falsehoods against all minorities, Bob Jones is a RACIST. Bob Jones is not a man of Christ. If Jesus came to Bob Jones as a black man, he would kick him out or have him arrested!

    December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • writingsomething

      You are maligning Bob Jones III based on the views of his grandfather. How would you like it if somebody maligned you based on the actions of some distant relative. I do not know much about Bob Jones III, but I do know that he has gone so far as apologizing for views that his past family has held about race.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      he's going to be really mad when he comes back as an arab.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  2. Commentoo

    The irony: BHO, leading the nation to the manger scene and the hope of good works!
    Not your job and definitely not your calling BHO.
    Discover good works, please, BHO, before your bad works destroy us all.
    May the Creator God prevent you from another term.
    And that good work on earth must surely be our own.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "destroys us all"

      too funny

      December 2, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  3. Chuggerman

    I thought Obama was smarter that this. OK, let me get this straight...he believes in a religion based on a virgin getting pregnant, having a baby who was also the son of God, oops and IS GOD too and turned water into wine, walked on water, made blind people see etc. etc...but the best is he was nailed to a cross, bled to death, was buried behind a big rock and came back to life and is "seated at the right hand of God"...err... i mean he is sitting next to himself..I guess..anyway, ALL this is nothing but a cartoon and complete nonsense. We fight wars over this idiocy. More people have died defending their various versions of this total crap than any disease in the history of the world. Religion is not only garbage but actually deadly and evil. Yeah, I thought Obama was smarter than this.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • JohnQuest

      I find it difficult to believe this too, but he could not have been elected unless the Masses believed that he believed.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  4. JohnQuest

    Atheist Hunter

    "He also said you will know them by their fruit. That's what we see, his rotten fruit!"

    Again another claim without proof, What "rotten fruit" please, please provide an example, and the reason why you think whatever it is, is rotten fruit?

    December 2, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  5. Let's Have Mr. Ed over for Dinner

    Obama just lifted the ban on horse meat being processed for human consumption.

    Really. He did. After making a campaign promise not to. And nobody's going to "inspect" it before it gets wrapped and sent to Wal-Mart. Stew meat, $2.99/lb.

    I don't trust this man. At all.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      I bet Mr. Ed tastes good. Animals eat other animals. We're animals, we eat other animals. It's the evolution of life.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • AGuest9

      "Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections." Time Magazine

      Reading comprehension, Mr. Ed.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Granted there maybe should be some oversight in the quality of the meat... Why is a horse any different from a cow/pig/deer/goat?

      December 2, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • AGuest9

      Congress has a Republican majority. Coincidence? Not at all. They tried to feed us ketchup as a "vegetable" in school in the 80s.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • BRC

      The meat will be inspected, that's how the law changed. The law prevented federal funding from being used on inspections, which meant horse meat couldn't be processed in teh US (it was still hapening in other countries). Now, the USDA can allocate funding for inspections, if a horse slaughterhouse does arise. I don't necessarliy agree with eating horses, but basically they did the exact opposite of what you said. They made inspections possible, they didn't fund the slaughterhouses.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Atheist 1#

      mmmmmm. Taco Bell.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Mr. Ed says "Get Your Fork Out of My Ass"

      I can read just about as well as the libtards can lie. Almost.

      http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/obama-legalizes-horse-slaughter-for-human/#ixzz1fQEQTcYv

      December 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  6. RossTrex

    Interesting that a "Christian" would need proof of another man's Christianity. Bob Jones has just informed us that he, as a Christian, looks at Obama and sees no proof of his Christianity. Jesus said love thy Lord your God with all your heart and love thy negibor as thy self. I am not sure Bob Jones has the first part of the message but I am sure that he is NOT following the second part.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      He also said you will know them by their fruit. That's what we see, his rotten fruit!

      December 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • hippypoet

      Crap, forgot to take my meds this morning.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      It's funny how Jesus and the Bible are frequently contradictory, huh? Weird. Wonder what that's about.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      It's about someone that don't know the bible!

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • TC

      I have never found a contradiction between Jesus and the Bibel – could you enlighten us?

      December 2, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Proven: christians know less about their own bible than atheists.

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

      @Atheist Hunter: Oh, please. "Rotten fruit," indeed.

      Look, Obama might be a lousy president (I'm not saying he is, but for the sake of argument, let's say so.) That just means he's a lousy president, not a false Christian. GWB was a lousy president, too, and nobody's questioning his faith in Jesus.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • TR6

      @Atheist Hunter: “It's about someone that don't know the bible!”

      Here’s a little tidbit you probably didn’t know was in the bible. It’s one of the Ten Commandments (don’t believe me? Look it up). In fact god thought it was so important He had it included 3 times.
      Funny how the ultimate being in the entire universe, the god of gods thought this message was more important than woman’s equality, ending slavery, the germ theory of disease, the fact that PI is not 3 or that the earth is not the center of the solar system (since he didn’t bother to mention them in the bible)

      The Message: "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk"
      – Exodus 23:19, 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21

      December 2, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  7. wrack

    “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?’ ”—

    haha, yeah, talk about wanting evidence; let's talk about that bible for a minute.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • nah4paws

      hahhaha great post

      December 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Talk!

      December 2, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • nah4paws

      You named yourself "atheist hunter"? Really? Yeah you wont be taken seriously anytime soon.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • fpga

      Atheist hunter... There are so many factual errors in the bible, christians created a special word meaning to describe painting them over, harmonization. When did the Temple get cleansing? Do you REALLY believe your rationalization? It's no wonder the U.S. banks created a debt bubble that crushed the world economy. Our ritual practice of stupidity is epic.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    From Sura 19 of the unholy Koran:

    16 And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East,
    17 And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our Spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man.
    18 She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art Allah-fearing.
    19 He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son.
    20 She said: How can I have a son when no mortal hath touched me, neither have I been unchaste?
    21 He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And (it will be) that We may make of him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained.
    22 And she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place.
    23 And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died ere this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten!
    24 Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Thy Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath thee,
    25 And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee, thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee.
    26 So eat and drink and be consoled. And if thou meetest any mortal, say: Lo! I have vowed a fast unto the Beneficent, and may not speak this day to any mortal.
    27 Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing.
    28 O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.
    29 Then she pointed to him. They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy?
    30 He spake: Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet,
    31 And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive,
    32 And (hath made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and hath not made me arrogant, unblest.
    33 Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!
    34 Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.
    35 It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
    36 And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. That is the right path.

    Aint that, what Obama believes?

    December 2, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • TC

      You should stay out of American politics and stick to German lutheran stuff.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • redragon

      Anyone who believes a god came from the sky and 'f'd a virg1n so he could kill his own kid to save a bunch of idiots is crazy.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • DamianKnight

      Obama claims to be of Christian faith. Do you remember the whole debacle with Reverend Wright during his campaign? Reverend Wright were saying some "racially questionable" things from the pulpit...of his Christian church. And it was the church that the Obamas had been attending for the past twenty years. That's why there was the scandal.

      I'm still not certain where everyone gets this whole "Obama is a Muslim" thing. Moreover, I'm not sure why it matters.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @TC

      I just cited the Koran, not the Bible.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • TC

      @red WOW! Glad we have educated folks lie you to post complex truths. BTW – no one would even bother to take your retarded drivel seriously.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Peter

      DamianKnight: It is a well known fact that party fanboys tend to have amnesia.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • TC

      @Rabier – you are not American and you follow a crazy heretical straint of Christianity so why are you here?

      December 2, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @TC

      Me, I am not important. Just consider the words of the Koran, which I have cited and which contradict the Holy Bible.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  9. nah4paws

    Why does anyone care what his religion is? He is running our Nation, he is doing more than worshiping "the wrong god" or whatever. Find something worthy to complain about and who cares about his beliefs. I cant wait for the day we have an Atheist President, I really cant.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  10. Bill

    Pagans were doing Solstice for centuries before Christians highjacked Roman Saturnalia for there own, as part of the assimilation. I still like X-mas though!

    December 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Then do like manson and carve one in your forehead!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  11. VargusZ

    May God bless President Obama and grant him the wisdom to make appropriate decisions for the good of our country. Merry Christmas to all of you! May the joy of Christmas and the spirit of Jesus Christ and his message enrich all of your lives.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      May obama find the real Jesus Christ!

      December 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Peter

      May you find your medication.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  12. K2

    I'm glad to hear Obama send a strong Christian message during the lighting of the White House Christmas Trees! This country was founded by Christians with strong Christian ideals and that has been what has made this country strong.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • claybigsby

      "This country was founded by Christians with strong Christian ideals and that has been what has made this country strong."

      Wrong...do some research...many founding fathers were deist.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • BRC

      Wrong on several counts (the whole christian foundation thing), but at least it's good to see a positive message.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      did he mention the virgin birth? did he mention that Jesus was the son of God? did he mention that Jesus was the savior of the world? Did he mention that Jesus rose from the dead? Or did he make jesus to be only a great prophet with valuable lessons? Big difference! Mormons believe in a jesus, but not our Jesus!

      December 2, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Edie Walker

      Our country was not founded by Christians with Christian ideals. Most of the founding fathers were Deists and wanted to make sure we all have religious freedom. Please see the following:http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

      December 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  13. gwpatty

    To Obama AND Jones III:

    'There are some upon this earth of yours,' returned the Spirit, 'who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.' – Dickens

    December 2, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  14. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    Let us think.... why do christians celebrate christmas on the 25th and changed their holy day to Sunday????

    December 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Brad

      Because we wanted to tie Holy Week to actual week days and also retain a relationship between Holy Week and Passover. Christmas is not actually an anniversary of anything. Different Christians groups celebrate it on different days.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Maha Naibu Eebowai

      Because the Roman Church saw a juxtaposition between the darkest days of the year and the imagery of Jesus being the light dispelling the darkness Also, yes, because Rome was interested in changing their pagan holidays to reflect the new religion. And Christians believe Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, so the early followers celebrated that profound moment weekly. Christianity has thrived all over the world in being contextual – of telling and retelling the narrative of Jesus through the cultural means of the people. This is why Bach turned drinking songs into hymns, why Jesus has been depicted artistically in every ethnicity, and why Rome decided to tell the story of Jesus using a calendar that was already familiar to them. It's really not as scandalous as some want to think it is.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • DamianKnight

      The Christians moved the celebration of Christ's birth to coincide with the pagans' (not using this word in the derogatory sense, so please, save the lamblasting) holidays they were trying to convert. No learned Christian actually thinks that Christ was born in December. Most scholars place Christ's birth sometime in spring or summer.

      As for why Christians celebrate on Sunday? Constantine made that. Simple. Look it up.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Maha Naibu Eebowai

      Christians were celebrating Sunday as holy long before Constantine. Check out Justin Martyr's first apology. Constantine may have made a more formal rule on the subject, but if he did he was following the custom established over 200 years before his own conversion.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  15. looking Glass

    And in the end, all knees will bend and tongues will confess. Until that day comes, I have yet to see a true child of God and a devoted follower of the teachings of Christ. Period.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Nonimus

      You keep waiting. It's been 2000 years, so it's bound to be any day now. In the meantime though, would you mind not bothering the rest of us.

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

      There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?

      -James 4:12

      He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

      -Luke 10:27

      December 2, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • drinking glass

      Baa, baa, black sheep,
      Have you any wool?
      Yes sir, yes sir,
      Three bags full;
      One for the master,
      And one for the dame,
      And one for the little boy
      Who lives down the lane.

      -Mother Goose 20:1

      December 2, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  16. Clouds 9

    Christmas has it's roots in Pagan History!! Silly Christians! Research it and get educated!

    SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!!

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

      Yes we know about appropriation of pagan holidays – in fact several different holidays just in the case of Christmas

      December 2, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • K2

      Our Founding Fathers wanted separation of Church and State, because they didn't want the Church involved in the governance of the people in this country. They wanted all religions to be able to worship as they saw fit and if a particular Church was involved in our government, then other religions may end up without the freedom of worship. They never intended for our government, government facilities and the people involved in government to turn their back on their religious beliefs or to be absent from religious references.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • David L.Winkle

      The celebration of Christmas by Christians was moved by the Western Church from January 9th to December 25th in order to replace a pagan holiday near the winter solstice, This does not make the roots of the Christian celebration pagan. Moving the date did not change the meaning of the core message of the incarnation of God in Christ Jesus. The moving of the date is what has give us the traditional 12 days of Christmas in the West. The Eastern Church has retained January 9th as the day of Christmas. It could be celebrated on the 4th of July with fireworks, and the message of the day would not be changed.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • I_get _it

      "It could be celebrated on the 4th of July with fireworks, and the message of the day would not be changed."

      Yeah, and after a couple of hundred years of the popularity of baby Jesus's red, white and blue birthday cake lit up with sparklers, Christians would probably whine, "Secularists have stolen OUR holiday!"

      December 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  17. JohnQuest

    Atheist Hunter, I was referring to your statement:

    "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."

    You are indicating the following is the case or will be the case, please provide evidence of any of them:

    Lack of Morals:
    Food Lines:
    Denial of the right to speak (blog)"
    Marshal Law:

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

      If you read "Atheist Hunter's" posts (he feels the need to "hunt down" Atheists? Strange) you will find rantings about armageddon in the very near future being a certainty based on biblical predictions, that Obama is a secret Muslim Jihadist, and all kind of other whack job nonsense that, I am sure, embarrasses most Christians because he will be quoted as an example of how ALL Christians are whack jobs.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Hunter of Atheist Hunters

      By the way that would be Martial Law, not Marshall Law.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Hunter of Atheist Hunters, Thank you for the correction I misspelled Martial as well.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  18. Silly Article

    So why do you two read the "Faith" section, then? It's obvious you have none.

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

      To try to get you people to think for yourselves.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • lcinlc

      I think what Reddragon means is to try to get you people to think MY way. Live and let live Reddragon

      December 2, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  19. superpaul3000

    I'm an atheist and I enjoy christmas. I don't have anything against christians either. I don't understand why people are always fighting about this. Just shut up, love thy neighbor, and enjoy the holidays...

    December 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      The problem is that there are Christians that care more about a blastocyst than people who are actually living. compassion my foot.

      December 2, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  20. CEL1

    Bob Jones doesn;t believe anybody is a Christian unless they come and bow before the Almighty Bob Jones.
    He's more full of hatred than Billy Graham. Both men supported Richard Nixon, the crookedest president we WVER had.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:46 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.