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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. LarryW

    There is not question that Obama is Christian and there is no question that both his dad and mom were either atheists or agnostic. He is very clear in his book about what drove him from being a non-believer to becoming a Christian.

    That said, he is an empty suit - primarily because he actually believes the Christian nonsense. Carter had the same problem, it seems to me. Yes, the Bachmanns, Perry's. Bush's. Romney's, Limbaugh's, O'Reilly make sure you know just how Christian they are, but that is because the general population uncritically buys the such drivel, which allows them to hide their depravity in plain view.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Honestly I doubt the man is a Christian, I think he just pays lip service to God because he knows its political suicide to be an atheist in this ridiculous country of ours.

      The mans strongly "Bush like" foreign policies indicate to me that he does not follow the words of Christ, but then, the vast, vast, VAST majority of American Christians do not.

      And for a "Christian" nation, we certainly are incorrigible warmongers, aren't we?

      December 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      It's unlikely he's really a christian, deep down he probably is an atheist but in the US atheists are hated more than gays, and being black and an atheist would be political suicide in our country of idiots.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  2. paul

    Trouble for Fox news. What will they use for their talking points today???? They said Obama did not talk about GOD enough on Thanksgiving. Now they have no material for today. Does that mean maybe some actual news?? Don't hold your breath.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  3. CJ

    He's only a 'Christian' if it helps to get him re-elected.
    Then he'll be the socialist marxist muslim again

    December 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      ... so says fox news

      December 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Curious

      In what ways is Obama a Muslim, a socialist, or a marxist?

      December 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Bob

      The Repubtards just have sore asses after 'Bama reamed them hard there in the last election. They like it that way, secretly though, and they are going to lose again in 2012.

      December 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  4. Clover

    Yeah, it's about time for Pres. Obama to start racheting up the God talk. Every once in a while he throws fundamentalists a Jesus bone. Look at his daughter's face in the photo... she knows what's really up and it stinks.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Bob

      Seems you like to put your nose where it stinks.

      December 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  5. sam

    hawaiidude looks like someone who is trying to create a wedge between jews and christians. BEWARE of this troll!

    December 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  6. Kent Denton

    I wonder if he was reading a teleprompter. If you check out his past, his track record with Rev. Wright, his opinions on abortion and his support of Islam, I wonder how anyone would tag this man as a Christian. I have found that those in power will say anything and everything to stay in power. I am not impressed.

    December 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Curious

      In what ways, specifically, has Obama been a particular supporter of Islam?

      December 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  7. hawaiiduude

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtVpHUjwQSA&w=640&h=360]

    December 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  8. hawaiiduude

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA6vRC1xW_c&w=640&h=360]

    December 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  9. NOT MY CHAIR

    i dont think Obama is a christian, well at least i hope that our president doesn't believe in magic or zombies

    December 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Howard

      Unfortunatly he is. And he does. Too bad we can't have a president who just believes in being good to each other without bringing religion into it. Sad too, that so many people are taken in by som much mubo jumbo.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  10. J Strong

    Where is the evidence that many political leaders are Christian?

    Interestingly, many informed historians recognize that Christians of the first two centuries were misunderstood and strongly disliked for their lack of political involvement. Christ himself avoided participating in worldly politics though he lived in the midst of extreme political turmoil and competing factions. This disappointed many Hebrews anticipating a political savior during the first century. According to Christ’s own words, his followers would continue to be hated because they remained separate from the world just as he had:

    “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19; compare also John 17:16; Matt 10:22; James 4:4)

    Christendom experienced a fundamental paradigm shift in this area after the death of the apostles. Roman Emperor Constantine bestowed official recognition, riches, power, and prestige on Christendom’s emerging clergy. In return, he received veneration, soldiers, and influence concerning church practices, though some observe that Constantine shed blood extensively to secure his kingship, participated in idolatrous religious ceremonies, and was not baptized until just before his death. Many proclaim Constantine a champion of Christianity. Other historians and objective Bible students recognize that Christendom adopted a plethora of pagan rituals under Constantine and others like him just as Christ foretold (Matt. 7:13-16, 21-23, 24:45-51; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thess. 2:3)

    The emphasis of Christ's message was God's kingdom (Matt. 6:9-10, 33; 24:14; Daniel 2:44; Psalms 2:6; John 18:36; Eph 1:8-10; Rev. 11:15) He did not advocate for any political leaders (Jer 10:23; Psalm 146:3)

    December 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  11. Larry

    There's a HUGE difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. Knowing all about farming doesn't make you a farmer.....ESPECIALLY to other farmers..... So he's got a good speech writer (and teleprompter...). Proves nothing!

    December 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Nodack

      Most of you Republicans are idiots. You live in a world of lies. You know he is Christian, but refuse to admit it. You know he is an American, but refuse to admit it. You will only believe the worst made up BS because you want to hate him.

      You call yourselves Christians, but you practice the opposite. I'm ashamed to call you fellow Americans. Yoe disgust me.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      ie the vast majority of proclaimed christians in this country are anything but.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • TheMovieFan

      Excellent posting, Nodack.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  12. Rainer Braendlein

    @Pat Patrick

    I guess, if Obama would be a Muslim, he had not assassinated the model Muslim Osama.

    I suppose that Obama wants to establish a "Christian" or righteous Islam. However, I have never heard of a wolf, which became a sheep.

    One could assume that a Muslim could try to obey Jesus and his teachings, because the Koran acknowledges Jesus as Imam. But the problem is that Muhammad is the highest prophet of Islam (he betters Jesus) and his teachings can be sumed up in one sentence: Slay the Christians. Please explain me how it should be possible that a Muslim obeys Jesus and Muhammad at the same time. Jesus says: "love your Christian brother" and Muhammad says: "Slay the Christians!"

    Obama tries to unite fire and water or light and darkness. That is impossible.

    December 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      So unity and understanding between Christians and Muslims is impossible?

      Perfect example of why I disdain your archaic beliefs so mightily. Religion is a corrosive, divisive tool used for manipulation and control.

      What's truly hilarious is that ultimately you all worship the same all loving, all caring, genocidal rapist of a god.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @warmesTghosT

      The difference between Islam and Christianity:

      Jesus Christ requires me to invite my Muslim neighbour for dinner (the often, the better). In contrast Muhammad requires my Muslim neighbour to abuse my knife and to cut off my head.

      Regretable, but true.

      We should be glad that many Muslims (alleged 60%) are secular and don't know or deny the demands of their religion (or anti-religion).

      December 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  13. ART

    Bob Jones 111, is the antichrist

    December 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Tony Baloney

      Obama is a monkey...he has no religion just like the monkies in iran.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quTXwTjgfc0&w=640&h=360]

      December 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Technically, Tony, he is an ape. Just like every other human being on this planet. Further, Islam is no more (or less, lol) invalid than the crazy stupid sh!t you believe.

      But you're ultimately just a racist, so no reasoning with an imbecile like you.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  14. Chris

    I am personally agnostic, but I have to say, Jesus was a pretty cool dude. I see nothing wrong with living and loving like Jesus did, regardless of your beliefs and regardless of him being real or the son of god or whatever. Jesus is easily the best part of the Bible.

    December 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      I don't believe Jesus ever existed (no substantive historical/archaeological proof of him outside the Bible) but you're right, his message was mostly admirable.

      Thing is, Christians are nothing like Christ. They worship the Bible and use it to hate, subjugate, demean and sometimes murder others who do not agree with their beliefs. Christians worship the Bible, not Christ. Jesus is just their meal ticket into Heaven.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  15. Dan from Tx

    “Some people will say whatever they think the politically helpful thing would be,”

    Of course you do, Mr Jones....of course you do.

    December 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Matt

    so much for freedom of speech

    December 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • BRC

      paste your post into something you can check and search for as-s, t-it, and cu-m. It's almost always one of those.

      December 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Matt,

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sl-ut
      sn-atch
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-oon
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  17. Matt

    why did my posts get deleted? there was nothing offensive in them

    December 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      a lot of posts seem to have suddenly disappeared. dont know if they deleted them or they are having issues, it does seem to screw up a lot.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Bob

    Thanks, Mr. President, for affirming your Christian faith in public. Thanks, Mr. President, for your September 11 speech in New York, after empty-headed mayor Bloomberg banned all religious leaders from the ceremony. You quoted Psalm 46 and he could do nothing because you "outranked" him!

    Thanks, Mr. President, for staying faithful to your wife and being a dad to your daughters. I am a pro-live, family values, small government voter, and will probably vote for someone else in 2012, but I appreciate the fact that, even when you are wrong (in my opinion), you are being true to your convictions, something Romney, Perry, and Gingrich know nothing about.

    I hope Ron Paul wins in 2012, but if you do, you will continue to have my support. Thanks for lighting the Christmas tree and standing by your faith.

    December 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Jackson

      OBAMA'S MAO TSE TUNG (KILLED 70 MILLION) CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS;

      http://www.fireandreamitchell.com/2009/12/22/obama%E2%80%99s-white-house-christmas-tree-includes-mao-tse-tung-ornaments/

      YEAH BOB KEEP UP THE BRILLIANT WORK THERE,...

      December 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • BRC

      Congratulations, a tiny picture of a homemade ornament on a MASSIVELY biased site. We should do up the paperwork to have him executed now. It's a paper machet ornament, it was probably just a picture form the magazine used to make it. Gotta love what comes out of the disjointed minds of fundamentalists.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Stay on those meds, Jack.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      wow jackson talk about stretching, you'll do yourself an injury, lol.

      December 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  19. Matt

    @ cedar rapids
    I just explained why they are linked through necessity. You can not have an athiest view and say that the big bang happened with out evolution and vice versa.

    Just as i had said there was parts that were not linked.

    Well one thing you forgot to say in your piece at then end is that the morality of society has been guided by religion for centuries. And without religion as a foundation anything could be deemed moral. And please don't use slavery as an arguement it is too weak of an arguement on your side as it shows a lack of historical/biblical knowledge. Please don't pin it on us. It is like me saying well atheism is the reason for the holocaust, russian work camps, communist slaughterings, khmer rouge etc etc

    December 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • BRC

      Evolution is not required for the big bang, and the big bang has nothing to do with evolution. What deals with the laws of physicsa nd interactions of the various forces between energy and inanimant masses, the other is a scientifically proved and observable tendancy in the development of species of living organisms. I didn't see what you claim linked the too together, but I doubt it was actually successful.

      And yes, religions have attempted to push moral codes that were part of their belief sets for centuries now, but the moral codes and social laws that allowed for the survival and expansion of the human race existed for several millenia before the religions ever came about, so no, they were not, and are not, necessary.

      December 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Adam

      Matt, you really need to read more. I am not saying that to be vindictive. Religion and morality have no link whatsoever. One has nothing to do with the other. Morality, empathy, caring for others does not require religion. If you make any connection at all it would have to be that religion in fact is an unsuccessful attempt to explain their existence, not the other way around. I do not have to believe in God to know that treating others with kindness and respect is a moral thing to do. If you need proof of that, then all I can offer is the love one has for their children. Are there any preconditions to loving your child?

      December 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Sorry but they are not linked. Evolution has nothing to do with the big bang, pure and simple. Heck, my wife, who is a believer, has stated she has no issue with the idea that god used evolution as the way of creating man.

      Religion has been used as a moral guide, I will not deny that, but it also has been used by many different religions, and all with similar messages, and if we assume that not every religion is correct, which I think we can, then there must something underlying them all, which is morality guided by society.

      "And please don't use slavery as an arguement it is too weak of an arguement on your side as it shows a lack of historical/biblical knowledge"
      You mean the bits of the bible where slavery is accepted? and how is it weak to say that morality changes because, as an example, slavery was accepted was accepted in the past, and that even priests were known to own slaves?

      December 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Adam

      And one more thing.. You say "Morality has been guided by Religion"! Which in a sense recognizes the pre existense of Morality and the subsequent guiding of religion. Religion has been misguiding morality for centuries. If religion was guided by morality I think there would be more people that considered themselves to be religious. Religion is a ritualistic interpretation of Morality, not the other way around! In a sense you make this explanation quite clear by the manner in which you chose your own words!

      December 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      We figured out long ago the social constructs of morality because it's mutual beneficial since we live in a communal society. We agree that it's immoral to steal other people's things because we don't want our own things stolen. If we don't want it done to us against our will then it's probably immoral. Slavery isn't immoral because God said so (the bible said he said quite the opposite on many occasions) it's wrong because you probably don't want to be a slave.

      I would say that most christians are way more moral than their god is.

      December 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  20. Winton

    The comments by Bob Jones show that he is the one who is not truly "Christian".

    December 2, 2011 at 12:36 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.