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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. Rod

    I for one am glad to read our president's words. I will give him enough grace to take him at his word. It is good to hear the kind of things he has said, but my vote will be determined on a wide range of things, not just whether I believe he is a Christian. It actually took a certain amount of courage to say what he did, for he will surely be attacked. Some will malign his motives and others will say that religion has no place in public life. And both sides will be wrong.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • durundal

      thank god >.< for that. It is appalling that people vote the bible for candidates, its a dangerously unenlightened practice that will either make or break the next step in this country's evolution.

      December 2, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • awaysaway

      You're pretty adamant there that religion has a role in private life. So are you good with that being Muslim or Hindu or Mormon? Or is it just your religion that you need to shove down everyone's throat.

      December 2, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  2. jasie

    He does whatever is politically expedient. One message doesn't undo the other messages he sends.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Sharon Pless

      There is good and there is evil. Now take a close look at both the President's comments and take a look at yous. Self examination is the key to true change. Jasie you need to stop the attacks, it only show that you are not CHRISTIAN. The birth of Jesus is the Christmas message. Get a life and stop being so insane.

      December 2, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • dina

      Most of the GOP candidates declare themselves Christians and are war-mongers, quick to jump on the "let's attack Iran" bandwagon.. Where is your criticism of them?

      December 2, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  3. Reality

    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. 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 7:36 am |
    • durundal

      There is a difference between being aware of the surroundings and not forcing change, and having the arrogance to thump bibles and presume you have the right to dictate the actions of others. Half of your religion believes the concept of birth control as a 'sin', and the other half is so brainwashed by you 'moral uprightness' that they end up as closet cases or divorced because some megalomaniac thought he could suppress and control basic biological urges. grow up

      December 2, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Motar

      Given the context of our discussion (President Obama's Christian message), Reality, would you expect Christ to be more concerned about proper birth control or self-control?

      December 2, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      Actually, that should read "thou shalt not MURDER." Murder is unlawful killing, or killing that is outlawed by God. Abortion, because it is legal, and because there is no direct biblical prohibition, is not murder and thus does not violate God's law.

      December 2, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  4. PF

    An election must be coming up.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  5. lilcubn3

    what happened to separation of church and state?! why is Obama's religion relevant at all?

    December 2, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  6. kcdude

    Jesus is lord get over it.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • ThsIsNotReal22

      amen 🙂

      December 2, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • UncleM

      Believing BS doesn't make it true.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  7. M. DaSilva

    Why does Obama alway refer to the "holy koran" and refers to the Bible as "scripture"?

    December 2, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • ThsIsNotReal22

      the holy koran is just the name of the book. If he calls the Bible "scripture" maybe its because he believes its actually true, unlike the koran which is not true.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • kluvalab

      Scripute is the sacred writings found in the Bible. Using the term "holy" in front of the Koran is proper etiquette especially for the Muslim community,.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  8. NFN8

    Amen. Nice one sir! Now that's why I voted for you! Keep it up, it ain't easy, but someone has to stand for right in this world.

    God bless you all.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  9. Creaturz

    I'd like to think he's really a convert from islam... but im just not feeling it.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • ThsIsNotReal22

      I think Obama is likely a Universalist. If you ask Obama if Jesus was the only way to escape hell, I don't think he'll say yes to that.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • Dianne

      l is God, But God transcends all.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Dianne

      Sorry, that should have read "All is God, But God transcends all."

      December 2, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  10. ThsIsNotReal22

    Haha, will there be a prayer breakfast for Ramandan?

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

    For those that dont believe in Chirst I feel pity on you but I am not here to preach to those that dont. I just wish for those that don't to stop hammering the beliefs of those that do. If I offend any one out there with what I am saying don't be upset but I AM NOT SORRY. Me and my wife pray read the bible, and some like (mother of three) say that believers do not read scripture. You should be more informed when you start smashing others. I think some poeple that blog on here blog just for the self gratifying feeling of belittling others. I am almost ready to step off my soap box but I will leave with oone piece fo scripture to be ponederd.

    2 Thessalonians 2:13
    But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth

    Good Day and God Bless

    December 2, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Child of Christ

      amen.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  12. Tom

    What eveidence do we have that Bob Jones is a Christian? His bigotry? His intolerance? In what ways does his life show that he seeks to follow Christ's teachings? He does not even show kindness to his fellow creatures here on earth. I will admit that Jones seems more typical of what many Christian leaders seem to be today, but see little of the joy of having a close relatiionship with the Lord in his life.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • filtered

      Amen. Exactly what I was thinking.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  13. Hal

    @Bill God led Israel to wipe out whole nations who disobeyed God over 3000 years ago. The problem Obama and many people have is that Jesus Christ is God. And as long as people continue to deny this they will always have struggles in their life they will not be able to overcome.

    December 2, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  14. Mike

    Obama's message didn't contradict Christianity in any way, but neither was it "very Christian." Even a Muslim could say what he said about Christ's birth and Christ's being a "manifestation of God's love." But a Muslim could say the same thing about Muhammad, too, since Muslims revere Muhammad as an even greater prophet than Christ. What would have been a "very Christian" message, in my opinion, was a statement that Christ was not just a "manifestation of God's love" but God Himself in human flesh - that would be an exclusively Christian statement...but it would also be a statement that might be inappropriate for the President of the United States to make in an official speech to the nation (though I'm not certain about that, given that this is, after all, the meaning of Christmas: that the God of the universe, in order to to save humanity from sin and death, condigned to be born as a baby and thereby become a member of the human race). I'm not of the mind that the President is supposed to be pastor-in-chief, but neither do I think this tepid Christmas message should be overblown by the media as "very Christian." I think the message was a good one, especially because of his focus on what Christ called "the greatest commandments," but without a fuller explanation of what it means to Christians to love God and neighbor, I just can't call the message "very Christian."

    December 2, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • kluvalab

      Obama said,"Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us". Jesus Christ was a manifestation of God makes his statement Christian. Jesus was God. A Muslim would certainly NOT say that.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  15. Bill

    real Christians don't support mass killings. I'm not a Christian but even I know this. This country has no concept of right or wrong. When we condemn military invasions, it is usually because of the economic burden. It's an absolute joke for anyone in authority to posture as someone with "values"..

    December 2, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  16. Kobe

    "and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds."? Umm when Obama was a senator, he was #1 senator who supported abortion.

    December 2, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • kluvalab

      "supported abortion" or supported "choice"? You can be a Christian and still support choice.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • uxe

      Kobe, I'm sorry to let you know that the bible does not say Christian's have to force people not to commit sin through legislation. Rather Christians should preach and live a life that models Christ but allow others to freely make their own choices. So, for a Christian, being pro-choice is more aligned with Christianity as long as one is not advocating that mothers kill their unborn baby. Christ never used legislations to force people to believe, but he allowed them to freely make their own choices.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  17. mikeshuptar

    This reporter was like, "I have an idea: let's ask the extremely conservative Bob Jones III (the president of Bob Jones University – a school which had a ban on interracial dating until 2000) about Obama's faith. Hmmmmmmm. I wonder what he will say?"

    December 2, 2011 at 6:55 am |
    • filtered

      My guess is that Bob Jones would say that many Christians aren't Christians. He's an extreme fundamentalist, and most students are graduate from his university need serious detox.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  18. John

    Who the hell cares what his religion is?

    December 2, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • kluvalab

      If we shouldn't care about religion should we care if a candidate had several extramarital affairs? Do either of these reflect the person who would be president?

      December 2, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  19. Trolleyfish

    We don't need those illusions, Nighthaaawk. All we need is simple human decency and the freedom to shape our own lives.

    December 2, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  20. simon

    As a Christian from Pakistan where the faith is prosecuted i am greatly rejoiced once people express their faith in Christ. Christ is the way the truth and the life, the path to sacrifce and the epitome of compassion and morality. the life of Christ is a path for us all to follow, the questiond the stoning for adultery, isnt that standin against might for an inhuman pracitce and sent the traders from around the temple, who were just profit seekers, relate it with the Wall Street movement isnt it against the capitalist by the less powerful against might, the might of the powerful. we all can relate our lives to Christ. He sacrifice his life, which gives us a lesson that revolutions come only by sacrifice. i relate the life of the faithful in my country also to Christ, Christ faced the test of faith and so we do, the right path has difficulties but rewards and that is what he ushered us with. Many of us a killed for blasphemy mostly falsely accused but God gives us strenght, we still donot denounce faith. same is the czse with christians in Iran and elsewhere. The west may be secular, but the accomodation of seculaism is what Jesus preached. Celbrate his birth, the birth of the redeemer, recieve his mesage and find peace.

    December 2, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • J

      Well said, simon! As a believer and follower of Christ myself, it pains me to hear that Christians in other countries face persecution. We in North America take for granted the freedoms we have, and in doing so, are often quiet about our faith in Christ. And why? My mother always reminded me that it doesn't matter what Man thinks of us, only Christ, and our thoughts, words and actions should be pleasing in His sight.

      December 2, 2011 at 7:18 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.