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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. paul

    Perhaps we can respect the separation of church and state and keep all religions out of politics. Just a thought.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • PragMAMA

      Unfortunately, it can't be. The former has been the pre-requisite of the latter.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  2. Liberals Worst Nightmare

    This guy is a FRAUD........!!! And, needs to be kicked out of the White House in '12...........before he ruins the USA any more!!

    December 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      LoL ok. You need a slightly better argument than that, though. Sway me.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • K3Citizen

      I bet you think Herman Cain would make a better president, too.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gee, the GOP candidates are just SO much more appealing. And so HONEST, too! Gosh, I'm sure EVERYONE is convinced!

      December 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  3. Gotcha

    LOL , Help stop discrimination, NOBAMA 2012

    December 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Doris Carman

      Its a farce. Hes no more christian than any muslim.He will make a speech or prayer on anything that will get him elected.He may have started his job years ago at church related stuff, but think back to his church and minister. Rev. jeremiah wright. So much for his faith.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  4. Random guy again, again!

    Just for y'all conservative GOPers, just to prove you that your beef is not because he's doing a good job or not, rather because he's not a "Conservative/GOP" If Jesus was to chose the democratic party instead of yours, you will also wish him hell in the damn cross...

    December 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • nwatcher

      ..yup..you are a random guy again. Little less paranoia and a few more factual statements. Ooopss, that would mean you weren't as random as you claim to be.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Random guy again, again, again!

      @nwatcher aww noo, don't tell me that you think im wrong? you should visit website more like http://www.politifact.com/ and stop hating on the president of your damn country. Oh yes I did!

      December 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  5. Random guy again

    I love this, this is how people against the president really go about these type of issues. Love the nonsense, the whole theories about him, wishing that he just fail and that nothing but bad happen to him.
    Is like, hating on the captain of the boat, preferring that the boat sink rather than work with the damn captain. So for y'all haters, i have an important announcement to make:
    Obama/Biden 2012

    December 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • nwatcher

      It is not about sinking anyone's political ship – it is all about the president claiming to adhere to a set of beliefs. Those who follow and practice the teachings of Jesus are being watched and judged by those who don't believe. So, sorry if many in the Christian community wonder – based on the presidents actions that conflict with Biblical teachings – can this man's spiritual claims be true? If you saw someone who claimed to be an athiest praying to God – would that make you doubt what they say?

      December 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Perplexed

      Ditto!

      December 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  6. Smokey

    For people to question someone's religious beliefs, whoever they are, because of a political agenda, let me tell you it makes me sick. Obama says he has been a lifelong Christian. There was a big controversy when he was running for president because of things his pastor of many years had said, so how can you now say he's not a Christian? It's got to be very hurtful to have people publicly saying you're not Christian if you really are. Christ preached a message of love and tolerance, and now at the holidays I for one would like to see more people truly following that message.

    December 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Brian

      THAT'S A LIE! YOU'RE ALREADY LYING! He is NOT a lifelong christian, he was born into a Muslim family and converted to christianity. It's pathetic that you liberals have to BLATANTLY LIE in order to try and bash conservatives

      December 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Margaret

      There is nothing anyone can say that will convince people who believe President Obama is not a Christian. His father may have been a Muslim, but ask any born again Christian who believes they have converted Muslims and they will tell you it can happen. The president says he became a Christian at 20 why should we think at that age he did it because he knew he was going to become president. Ridiculous. I am sure his mother and grandmother would be surprised to know they were Muslim. We are a nation of many people, and many beliefs. I don't want to elect super preacher.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • skytag

      Actually, I believe he says he converted to Christianity from atheism. Brian's claim he was born into a Muslim family is hogwash. His father was a non-practicing Muslim and his mother was an atheist, as I recall.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Gotcha

      You're not serious right, Help stop discrimination, NOBAMA 2012

      December 2, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  7. Skadams

    Wonder who wrote the speech for him. Everyone knows he has a prayer rug in the corner of the oval office. He is officially in re-election mode since he's shunned every christian holiday since being president but has celebrated all muslim holidays.

    December 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Dennis1020

      You, sir, are an idiot. Let me guess, you didn't finish 12th grade.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • DanOman

      12th grade? You are being generous.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • skytag

      More right-wing rubbish.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  8. Mike

    Why is it that important this country was founded under FREEDOM OF RELIGION but so many of you doubt Obama true faith. Personally it's none of your damn business, second he has proclaimed himself a christian. Therefore it should be good enough, but not good enough for hypocrites. GOD is the true judge of that NOT man.

    December 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bob

      Mike, how nice of you to present your own judgement, while admonishing others not to judge.

      Mike, you are a hypocrite. And a self-righteous, pompous ass-hole.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • kd

      Why is it none of our business if Obama is a Christian when it's such a HUGE deal what religion the GOP candidates are. You cannot have it both ways.....Obama can be whatever he wants and we cannot talk about it BUT we talk non-stop about the religion of GOP party..... liberals....damn the GOP while their president PRAYS in public....where is the outcry!

      December 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • @ BooB

      I mean Bob..

      May I know where in Mike's comment that he's judgemental?

      December 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Bob

      @Boob, you are too stupid to figure it out for yourself. You suck.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  9. InsecurAtheists

    Obama is a Christian and America is a Christian nation. Get it over with, will ya?!

    December 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  10. Reality

    READ THE FOLLOWING SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY:

    Obama says abortions should be "safe, legal and rare" but says nothing about the basic tenet of proper human conduct i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill/Murder. And where is BO's sense of indignation that abortions are not rare and that these acts of horror demean the Golden Rule considering that he says he is a Christian. And where is his sense of indignation that women who use the Pill do not use it properly resulting in an failure rate of 8.7% as per the Gu-ttmacher Inst-itute statistics. Using these and other Gu-ttmacher Insti-tute data, this failure of women to use the Pill properly results in ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. And the annual abortion rate in the USA is?? ~1,000,000 as per the CDC.

    And do males use co-ndoms properly? No, as said failure rate for this birth "control" method is 17.4%!! Again using Gu-ttmacher data, said failure rate results in another ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year.

    And from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (S-TDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with S-TDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    More problems:

    http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/20/yes-o-ral-s-ex-is-se-x-and-it-can-boost-cancer-risk/?npt=NP1

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens: Or-al s-ex carries many of the same risks as va-ginal s-ex, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of o-ral cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al s-ex is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'"

    Bottom line: BO is still not aware of the basics of birth control and still remains the leader of the Immoral Majority and will remain so until he becomes a true Christian and one who respects and PROTECTS HUMAN LIFE IN ALL ITS FORMS and who at least emphasizes the proper use of birth control methods!!!
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    December 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      You convince no one of anything but your delusion when you spam posts like this.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • George

      Amen. I agree with this. People need to learn self control and save s.e.x for marriage and only for procreation.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      All right, George. Glad the church's lessons of abstinence have worked so effectively. Particularly in the Southern, more conservative states.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, can it, George. If anyone paid attention to your nonsensical, prudish views, couples over 50 would never have s3x.

      Idiot.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • UmYup...

      "Amen. I agree with this. People need to learn self control and save s.e.x for marriage and only for procreation."

      Yes, and that includes gays to they have kids too!

      December 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  11. InGodsgrip!

    Let us not forget that weather Obama is a Christian or not, we are not here to judge or condemn. I personally am not a fan of his policies and administration, but I pray for him everyday because if I believe in God as I do. Then God put Obama in office and he is my president. I can only pray and hope that the word that he spoke resonate truly in his heart and mind. The most important thing this season is Jesus Christ and his undying love and mercy for each and everyone of us. May all find peace and comfort in knowimg,that he is in control even if you deny he is. God bless each and everyone of us during this season of advent.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Bullcr@p. Your god and your jeebus supposedly will torture people eternally for minor transgressions in a mortal life. That's not "mercy". That's the work of a brutal and cruel jerk.

      Take your sicko Christian supersti-tions and shove them where the sun don't shine.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • @ BooB

      I mean, Bob...

      May God Bless You, lad.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Again, Bullcr@p. Your god and your jeebus supposedly will torture people eternally for minor transgressions in a mortal life. That's not "mercy". That's the work of a brutal and cruel jerk.

      Take your sicko Christian supersti-tions and shove them where the sun don't shine.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      If we do that you are sure to find to them.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      herbie, please enroll in an English class.

      December 2, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  12. risky

    Im so glad none of this applies to me, because Im a Jedi. May the force be with you.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Margaret

      Can I join?

      December 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  13. jerry

    BO will be anything you want...if you will just give him more power...the typical psychopath.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Margaret

      I thought that was Romney?

      December 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  14. f

    Really? Obama a Christian? Now? We're really supposed to believe him now? Does he think all Americans are stupid? Of course, the answer is YES !!

    December 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • R

      Not all americans are stupid. There are intelligent Americans. They are Atheist.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Mike

      A rock is truly smarter than 'f'

      December 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Babbler

      americans are stupid

      December 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, YOU are, anyway, f. The rest of us have brains and we're not afraid to use them.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Margaret

      He must be one of those moles. A Muslim who went to Christian churches, married in on, baptized, and raised his kids as Christians. Yep really devoted Muslim. Give me a break.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • herbie

      yes you do, but you had it exchanged places with your butthole.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor herbie. Is it painful to be lame?

      December 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  15. DC

    Not sure how can be a genuine Christian and support the abortion-industrial complex.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • George

      Good point. Can't be. Support for abortion is the one thing that is going to throw a lot of people in hell.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Bob

      So how again is this "hell", this eternal torture you speak of, fair punishment for what you (not even your bible) state to be crimes of a short mortal life?

      Any human court would consider such punishment barbaric. Your Christian god must be quite the ass-hole.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • George

      @Bob

      But it's not a human court. God said, "Your ways are not my ways." And without hell there is no justice. That's just the way it is. Learn to deal. But there is a way out – believe in our Lord Jesus and accept his redemption and sin no more.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure you can. Lots of Christians support the rights of women to choose. Just because you don't doesn't make a bit of difference. It's YOUR opinion that abortion is wrong. Not everyone, even Christians, agrees.

      Get over it.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Dennis1020

      And how can you be a Chrstian and believe in the death penalty and going to war under false pretenses?

      December 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Get Real

      Listen, George, I don't believe in your fantasy. Shall I pretend that I do? If you pretend long enough and strong enough, does that make it become real? No. I know from experience that it does not.

      If "God" is real, he/she/it will take care of revealing him/her/itself to everyone. All of your hammering and yammering will not prove a single thing about this supposed "God".

      December 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Bob

      Wow, George. You really are that stupid. Do you actually believe that torture in hell is fair punishment? Wow. Just wow.

      Look, the god of your fairy tales is obviously an ass-hole. Get past your myths already and get with at least the last century.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  16. noteaparty4me

    If Bob Jones is the barometer for chrisitianity, NO ONE is a christian. Thank God. he is not. Who are we to judge the President. Mr. Obama has nothing to prove to anyone. I am certain Sandusky was the Bob Jones kind of christian, WHITE.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  17. John Brown

    He says he is Christian and that's more than enoug for me!

    Go Hawaiin Boy!! I'll vote for you again!!

    Btw good job! The unemployment rate goes down to 8.6%!! yeahhh!!

    December 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • f

      Obama has nothing to do with the unemployment rate going down. Many companies announced months ago they were hiring X number of people for SEASONAL Christmas jobs. They will all be unemployed come Jan.15 when the returns are done.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He had nothing to do with it going up, either, f* ckwit, but that doesn't keep morons like you from blaming him for all the economy's ills, does it?

      December 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  18. Brad

    warmesTghosT

    It isn't that people are sent to eternal torture for anything in particular they've done. Rather it's that, in life, people are separated from God. If this isn't remedied then the consequences follow. God does not want to see his creation destroyed, so he provided Christ.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Brad – as I stated earlier, I looked for God. I tried to have faith. But it rings hollow to my ears. For you to come to me and say that the Creator of the Cosmos, the God of all Creation is so petty that he would damn me to eternal torture simply because I see that Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and all their little subcults are deeply flawed and ideologically unsound....that doesn't sound like the type of deity I would choose to worship even if I did believe in him.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  19. MyLogic

    Is this a joke?

    Has anyone paid attention to what he actually said? I will paraphrase and you double check the article.
    a. Christ was a manifestiation of God's love for us (please clarify what you mean by this statement).
    b. Jesus grew up to be a leader (and...)
    c. We should love God and others.

    These statements don't make him Christian. I've heard Imams say the same thing (though if pressed they will clarify part a as God sent a leader to us out of his mercy). I think even Jim Jones is guilty of saying something similar. I'll have to rewind the TV movie to double check.

    December 2, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Sadie Boyd

      you are the joke

      December 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Uncommon Sense

      So, it must be Christian not to revere Christ and to put greed and hatred of your fellow man first? Please. I agree that mere belief in the existence of Christ does not a Christian make, but Obama did actually deliver a Christian message at a Christmas event, no matter how much it irks you.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Allie

      He didn't say anything about Jesus being God. A Christian believes that Jesus Christ is God, that he died on the cross to pay for our sins (because we deserve to go to hell) and rose from the dead.

      Im not saying Obama isn't a good man, but what he is quoted to have said in this article does not mean he is a Christian.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • J.W

      I don't get the point you are trying to make. Are you saying that none of those things are true, or that Obama is not a good example of those things?

      December 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Allie

      Im just a kid, so I don't really get politics. But im a Christian and so Im interested in that.

      Im just saying that what Obama said doesn't imply he's a Christian. A lot of people think Jesus was a good guy. If I thought Muhammed was a good guy, that wouldn't make me a Muslim. Lots of religions believe in 'God' and 'love'

      December 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • f

      I can blindly regurgitate Jewish teachings I memorized that everyone already knows. That doesn't make me Jewish.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah he could say those things without being a Christian, but he may have also been being careful to profess his faith but not to endorse Christianity over all other religions. I do not think the way he worded it is necessarily saying that he is not Christian.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Mike

      But you must remember Jesus WAS a Jew. He would have never allowed a religion to be named after him. He wants the world to follow his teachings.

      December 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  20. Emmy Skaddittle

    I love the republicans trying to have it both ways, they were outraged with rev wright (remember him? If you are a rep ofcouse you don't he was way back at the beginning) so Obama cooled it down and then you all called him a muslam, its crazy what you azzholes will do to get the presidency back, ruin the economy – check, keep unemployment high – check, disparage the president at every opportunity – check!

    December 2, 2011 at 5:28 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.