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Why a president’s faith may not matter
We’re accustomed to presidential displays of piety but historians say a president’s faith is no sure guide to how he will govern.
June 30th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Why a president’s faith may not matter

By John Blake, CNN

He called himself a “life-long Quaker and a church-going Christian,” and at first there was no reason to doubt him.

He played piano in the church, taught Sunday school, and praised Jesus at revivals. His mother thought he was going to be a missionary. His friends said he would be a preacher.

We now know this former Sunday school teacher as “Tricky Dick” or, more formally, President Richard Nixon. He was one of the most corrupt and paranoid men to occupy the Oval Office. Nixon gave us Watergate, but he also gave presidential historians like Darrin Grinder a question to ponder:

Does a president’s religious faith make any difference in how he governs?

“I don’t think so,” says Grinder, author of “The Presidents and Their Faith,” which examines the faith of all American presidents.

“If I asked George W. Bush what he thought about torture, I think outside the presidency he would say he hates it,” Grinder says. “But he’d do it for the country if he thinks it’s right in terms of American security.”

We elect a president every four years, but perhaps we also elect a high priest.  Ever since George Washington spontaneously added “so help me God” to his inaugural oath, Americans have expected their presidents to believe in, worship and publicly invoke God.

A presidential candidate who doesn’t meet these religious expectations won’t go far, Grinder says.

“It’s going to be a long time before anyone who openly admits that he or she is an agnostic or an atheist is elected,” Grinder says. “We tie character and religious beliefs together.”

Piety and presidential greatness don’t always mix

 History suggests, however, that piety and presidential performance don’t always match. Some of America’s most religious presidents have been its most brutal. And two of its greatest presidents wouldn’t even be considered Christians today, scholars say.

Consider Abraham Lincoln, who is widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s three greatest presidents, along with Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But Lincoln, who never joined a church, was not a Christian, says Niels C. Nielsen, author of “God in the Obama Era.”

“Lincoln believed in an active God, he believed in providence. But if you asked Lincoln if he believed in the deity of Jesus, he would have said no,” Nielsen says.

Or look at Roosevelt, who is virtually a national saint. With his perpetual grin and a cigarette holder perched jauntily in his mouth, he guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II. His legacy is built on his New Deal, an array of programs that protected the poor and elderly from the abuses of unrestrained capitalism.

But Roosevelt was no saint in his personal life. He rarely talked publicly about his Episcopalian faith, preferred golf over church (before he was stricken by polio), and likely cheated on his wife, scholars say.

Yet few presidents embodied the biblical concept of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” as much as Roosevelt, who once called the heartless business tycoons of his day “the money changers” in the temple.

Nielsen, the historian, suggests that it was Roosevelt’s suffering that drove him to look out for the most vulnerable, not his faith. According to his wife, Eleanor, polio taught her husband “infinite patience and never-ending persistence.”

“I think it made him more sensitive to the feelings of people,” Eleanor said, according to Nielsen.

Another contemporary president’s concern for others seemed to be driven more by his exposure to suffering than his faith.

Lyndon Johnson plunged America deeper into Vietnam. Yet his “Great Society” programs displayed a concern for “the least of these” in America. Under Johnson, the government launched programs to protect the civil rights of minorities, improve the educational chances of needy children and protect the environment.

Johnson saw poverty as a sin, something that should be attacked and defeated.

But Johnson never seemed to have any problem with a little personal sin. He grew up in Texas, where he affiliated with Disciples of Christ and Baptist churches. But he is widely believed to have stolen one of his earliest elections. He was a womanizer, historians say, and his speech was filled with such vulgarity that reporters had a difficult time quoting him on the record.

“He didn’t have any morality,” says Nielsen.

But he did have the experience of teaching in a poor, rural, immigrant school in Texas, Grinder says, where Johnson once said he learned “what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.”

One of Johnson’s domestic advisers says in Grinder’s book that Johnson’s commitment to racial justice and eliminating poverty came from his teaching days in Texas.

“Equal opportunity became for him a constitutional obligation, and he pursued it with messianic conviction,” said Joseph Califano Jr.

Our first ‘infidel’ president

Some American presidents didn’t just seem indifferent to religion.  They were accused of being hostile to organized religion and dismissive of Jesus.

Washington, the nation’s first president, was not a Christian but most likely a Deist, someone who believed in a divine, beneficent being who ordered the world. Clergy would often try to goad him into publicly stating that he was a Christian, but he refused to do so, Grinder says.

Thomas Jefferson, though, aroused the hostility of more religious leaders than any other president, except perhaps for President Obama.

The nation’s third president once said that he didn’t care if his neighbor worshiped one God or 20, and argued for the separation of church and state. His opponents called him a pagan and an infidel. New England farm wives buried their family Bibles in gardens because they heard Jefferson would confiscate them, Grinder says.

Grinder wrote that one pastor who campaigned against Jefferson’s election warned:

“If Jefferson is elected, the Bible will be burned, the French Marseillaise will be sung in Christian churches, and we may see our wives and daughters become the victims of legal prostitution.”

Most presidents, however, didn't speak out against organized religion like Jefferson. Some took on the high priest role of the office, and few did it as eagerly as our nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was a devout Presbyterian who read three to five chapters of the Bible daily, built a chapel in his Tennessee home and publicly attended two Washington churches while in the White House. He is known as one of the most devout presidents.

Yet he was also known for his violent temper (he killed a man in a duel) and for being a rich slaveholder. Jackson’s claim to infamy, though, comes primarily from his treatment of Native Americans. Some historians describe it as genocidal. He slaughtered Seminole Indians and their families in Florida, and he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Cherokees, who he forced from their homeland in Georgia.

How could Jackson reconcile his fervent religious beliefs with the mass killings of Native Americans? Grinder thinks he knows:

“He was brutal because he did not believe the persons he was being brutal to were human.”

 Obama and his faith

Anyone who doubts that a president’s faith remains important to the American people has only to look at the experiences of Obama.

Obama has declared his Christianity in his biography, and in many speeches. He evoked it recently when he came out in support of same-sex marriages. But arguably no president has had his faith so aggressively questioned. Many Americans still believe he is a Muslim.

Stephen Mansfield, author of “The Faith of Barack Obama,” is a political conservative who has written about the evangelical faith of President George W. Bush. He became curious about Obama and spent time talking to Obama’s spiritual cabinet, a collection of ministers who counsel Obama.

Mansfield says he has no doubt that Obama is a devout Christian. His belief has angered some fellow conservatives so much that he says he has had speeches canceled and received angry e-mails.

“I take him seriously as a Christian,” Mansfield says. “He’s a politically liberal Christian man who is making a deeper journey of faith all the time.”

Mansfield says Obama’s health care law is an expression of faith: his belief that Christians are obligated to look out for the most vulnerable.

“Barack Obama believes that the mechanism of the state ought to be used in service of the biblical idea of saving the needy and the poor and the oppressed,” says Mansfield.

For some, though, Obama’s faith will always be associated with the angry sermons of Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Yet Mansfield says Obama has embraced a more traditional form of Christianity since becoming president.

In his book, Mansfield tells a story about Obama ministering to a pastor who had experienced a death in the family. Mansfield says he was stunned that Obama could draw so easily from a deep well of scripture to minister to a minister.

“He is serious about his faith,” says Mansfield, also author of  “The Mormonizing of America.”   “He’s absolutely not a Muslim.”

Nielsen, author of “God in the Obama Era,” has a theory why some Americans believe Obama is a Muslim.

“They hate him so much,” Nielsen says. “He’s polarized the country.”

Nielsen says Obama’s unconventional religious background may arouse suspicion, but it’s an asset. Obama was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, where he was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions. When he lived in Chicago, his Christianity was shaped by the black church’s emphasis on social justice.

“He knows more about world religions than anybody that’s been in the White House,” Nielsen says.

The persistent scrutiny of Obama’s faith, though, has helped his presidential opponent more than the president, says Grinder, author of “The Presidents and Their Faith.”

“If [Mitt] Romney had almost any other opponent than Obama, I think we’d be hearing a lot more about Mormonism,” Grinder says. “He would be in the same place that Obama has been in the last five years.”

Once Obama leaves the Oval Office, don’t expect the religious scrutiny of presidents to fade, Grinder says. We still want our presidents to act like a politician and a priest.

“The religious rhetoric gets louder each year,” he says. “That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Books • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Evangelical • History • Poverty • Uncategorized

soundoff (2,727 Responses)
  1. Atheists keep OUT!

    A President's faith doesn't matter at all, as long as he have faith and with TRUE and FIRM belief that he's answerable of his actions NOT only to himself but ALSO to a higher and powerful being. Otherwise, he will surely make this country a living hell.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Got proof? A crystal ball? Any evidence?

      July 1, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Atheists keep OUT!

      Stalin, Mao, Jung, HITLER and TOM TOM? LOL!

      July 1, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • vulpecula

      @Atheists keep OUT!
      Hitler was NOT an atheist. He was a Christian, as were all the Germans that followed his line of thinging.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Was that supposed to mean something? If so, perhaps you can explain exactly what.

      I doubt it, since you're 12, but give it a shot.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • TOOL Tom

      To wise men one word is enough, no further explanation needed. To TOOLS like Tom Tom. No explanation could be enough. Nuff said!

      July 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      TOOL, you confirm my belief that anytime a post contains the phrases "Listen, people", "Wake up, people", "End of discussion" or "Nuff said", the post and its author are full of manure.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • 13monkees

      Of course they don't have evidence. Then their whole belief system wouldn't require faith.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Idiots who make proclamations like the one by Atheist keep OUT fail to recognize that there are successful nations whose leaders do not endorse of exhibit belief in any supernatural being. They're not dictators.

      Using Hitler, Pol Pot, et al, to make a point about atheism is just another proof of your ignorance. I'd bother to explain it to you, but you're too dumb to figure out how to tie your own shoes.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Idiots who make proclamations like the one by Atheists keep OUT fail to recognize that there are successful nations whose leaders do not endorse of exhibit belief in any supernatural being. They're not dictators.

      Using Hitler, Pol Pot, et al, to make a point about atheism is just another proof of your ignorance. I'd bother to explain it to you, but you're too dumb to figure out how to tie your own shoes.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • TOOL Tom

      Tom Tom the Piper's Son is nothing but a pile of a dumb-ass's manure.

      July 2, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  2. Omg

    Gotta admit, if all religions agree on one thing, then maybe it's true that ALL THE OTHERS ARE WRONG.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  3. Laurie

    This headline shows a complete ignorance of what faith provides....and that is authentic, true Wisdom. God gives supernatural help to those who truly believe and trust in him.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Bill

      Meanwhile the rest of us just have to use common sense and logic.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure he does. He just doesn't feel like ending war, poverty, or starvation right now...

      July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Dashawn

      Faith is commonly used in conjunction with logic and common sense. Non believers are unable to grasp that. They can continue to proclaim there is only the contrary view, allthewhile their passion at pointing out differences that frighten their worldview only recon firms to me how much they seek love and prayer through the Lord. Those content in their Athiestic views do not ever voice their displeasure for Christianity or any other religions. Those who are not comfortable and truly sense their God, even though reluctant to embrace Him with their hearts, they'll continue to lash out and primarily against Christians.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Another "expert" who can't even figure out how to spell 'atheist' burbles malarkey.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  4. Bill

    CNN has an interesting spin, so Romney was being and likely will be attacked by the left wing PACs for his religion and The article focuses on Obama with pictures of Obama...seems like a little left leaning psychological warfare is at play!

    July 1, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • vulpecula

      This artical is about Presidents. Obama IS a President. Romney has not been a President. Your point there is meaningless. If romney Become President and the author revisits the subject, I'm sure Romney would then be included.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • vulpecula

      So far, I haven't seen the left attacking Romney's Morman beliefs. I think your confusing those attacks from the far right and the other Republican candidates.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      All of the Romney attacks have come from the Christian coalition.
      Try again.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  5. Colin

    A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Children’s fairytales;

    (b) Medieval mythology;

    (c) New age pseudo science; or

    (d) Christianity

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Christian

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:

    (a) historian;

    (b) geologist;

    (c) NASA astronomer; or

    (d) Christian

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A failed psychologist

    (b) A fraudulent geneticist

    (c) A sociologist who never went to college; or

    (d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they must believe under threat of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is one god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or

    (d) All of the above.

    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Why we see anything positive about still believeing in this fvcking Dark Ages garbage in the 21st Century is beyond me.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Tony29inDallas

      @Colin: Have a look at THE GENESIS ENIGMA by Professor Andrew Parker. That is, if you can be bothered to do any research on the topic.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1200486/The-Genesis-enigma-How-DID-Bible-evolution-life-3-000-years-Darwin.html

      July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Reality

      You have been NOTHING, but a SECOND-RATE, trying hard....COPY PASTE!

      July 1, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oooh, look! Reality is about to blow a gasket!

      July 1, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Omg

      Consider that it may be (a) delusional or (b) ignorant to believe that the Dark Ages and the 21st Century are mutually exclusive. Haha.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Colin

      Tony -Genesis is no more a description of Evolution than the Flintstones is a doc.umentary on the Jurassic Period.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Reality

      Want me to FARRTTT on you face, Tommy dear?

      July 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • YUUK!

      "Tony -Genesis is no more a description of Evolution than the Flintstones is a doc.umentary on the Jurassic Period."

      While, Collin's post was just another recycled coffee and pasta.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Reality: I knew you were full of gas.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Omg

      Stop bashing the Flintstones! Many of us formed our worldview watching cartoons on TV. For a scholarly analysis, see The Flintstones Enigma by Professor Barney Rubble.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      You have been NOTHING, but a SECOND-RATE, trying hard....COPY PASTE

      Why ?
      Because he keeps hitting home runs ?

      I just opened a beer in Colins name ......SPLOIT !!!!

      July 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Mark Glomski

    Polarized the country? Bush did that. He split the country in two.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Omg

      Pal, you're giving Bush far too much credit. The US has been split from its inception. Recall the Civil War...

      July 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      You are eider wid us – or agen us.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  7. DJ Reality

    The sad thing is we have forgotten the teachings of Jesus Christ. As in it so much of say we are Christians and born again. We forget who we are and how this great nation began. It is to that part we should never forget. We are a nation of people who came here for one reason, A nation built by dreams, hopes, and a desire to be free. No man has a right to dictait to another

    July 1, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • DJ Reality

      I did not finish my rant.... I may not agree with what you say. But I will defend to my death your right to say it. God bless this Nation and its people>

      July 1, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  8. nuance

    The belief that a religious person is a moral one is sadly naive and deeply flawed. Perhaps it stems from the need to find some shred of evidence that the person being voted into office can be trusted to have strong moral values but unfortunately, that is simply not realistic. History has shown us time and again that people of strong faith can act in very immoral and sometimes even downright evil ways. The problem I believe is that the very religion that should keep the faithful behaving decently also provides for forgiveness and redemption which some wrongly interpret as a free pass to behave as they please.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • DJ Reality

      A true fact.. Remember what Jesus told his followers about the man beaten by robbers and left by the side of the road. How many passed him bye before a business man (not Romney) took pity on him and took care of him. I'm trying to make my point brief. But, how many if us would stop and do the same thing today? And so many need our help today. We may not be able to help all. But it is a start to help some.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • nuance

      That is sad but true DJ. The bottom line is, it's more important to be moral than religious. You'd think that the two should be automatically connected but unfortunately this isn't always the case because people (especially the powerful ones) will always find ways to use religion in a way that suits their needs and justify their immoral actions through it.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  9. Bishop Hairy Palms

    As a devout Mormon, what does Romney believe?

    He believes that he will one day be a God that rules over his own planet.

    He believes that Jesus and Satan are brothers.

    He believes in baptizing dead Christians as a way of converting them to Mormonism.

    He believes that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri.

    He believes that black people are cursed and cannot go to heaven.

    He believes that he must wear magic underwear for protection.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • joey shabadoo

      no more ridiculous than any other religion.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Omg

      Sir, have you ever been to Missouri?

      July 1, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • PHinMiami

      OMG – Thank!

      I can't stop laughing!

      July 1, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • rwb49

      And if you believe that's what Romney believes, than you are just a puppet on our government strings.....Why should the majority of the American citizens believe in our government at all???? The only thing they've done is to "divide" the people into different categories/races/class, & especially religious beliefs....If we the people happen to believe something other than what this government forces us to believe in, than we are nothing more than labled racists, confused spiritual human beings that would be totally lost without goverment intervention?????? Government standards of each individual's spirituality decided by government elitists & their federal laws??? How many of us believe our government has all the answers?????? And how many believe our government are that supreme to force their own personal beliefs unto others ???? Is government truly giving their people a chance to voice their beliefs, or does government truly believe "their word, their federal laws" will change anyone's human souls? The government can dig deep into our pockets for $$$$$, but not ever deep enough into our spiritual souls to control us by the almighty $$$$ sign. Government has no business using any citizen's money for gain of power/control.....Duh, how many of them haven't paid their financial dues (income taxes)??????? They won't be thrown in jail for tax evasion, but the average American citizen will?????? How long will we allow this government to abuse/use our system????.....As long as we allow them to do so......

      July 1, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  10. Sam

    Mormonism is the most ridiculous of all of the Christian Faiths, and anyone who believes in it, no matter how well-intentioned, has questionable judgement!

    July 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • vulpecula

      no less ridiculous than any other religion.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Jopa

      That is absolutely true!

      July 1, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Jopa

      I'm agreeing with SAM !

      July 1, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • rwb49

      I can't believe you're singling out 1 religion over the other, & also singling out those with no religion.....Whom made you do that???? I guess we should all assume you're working for 1 political party over the other??????? I guess our government has convinced/forced you into by the almighty $$$$ to make a choice? First of all, our government has no right to make you feel inferior as a citizen if you happen not to believe in their personal beliefs/agenda.....Guess whom owns the USA, the people, not the selfish government financial leeches sucking from the people, no matter if they have any religion or not!!!!!!!!!! Tell me "whom" will have financial & healthcare stability in their future lives c/o the tax payers???? So far, we the people are losing????? Why is it we the people have to pay all the bills???? Why should we allow our government financial life support when our Nation of people are losing the financial battle to survive? Why does government feel they deserve more financial support than those of us that are struggling just to put food on our tables????? This current administration cannot promise our Nation a better & more financially secure life......This administration truly believes we the people owe him & his loved ones more of a life, than we owe our own loved ones.....How many of us would enjoy having a financial opportunity to take at least 1 stress free vacation a year without sticking the financial burdens on any other citizen?

      July 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  11. mickey weedon

    When someone claims to be a Christian.....this tells me they are nuts...why? Snakes talk, people live in fish? Chicks get knocked up without doing it, a 600 year old sailor took all the bugs and birds and animals on a honeymoon cruise? You think it helps you to get elected by worshiping some dead guy on a stick? Eat his flesh and drink his blood. Your getting beamed up to your invisible space daddy in the sky, right so you and Sara shoot all the animals, cut down all the trees and spill your oil.
    Christians are dangerous for America we need a thinking person a smart person in the White House not one who believes in fairy tales! My God is better than your God bang bang your dead. Oh how the Pope loves his little boys...

    July 1, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Dashawn

      Do you exercise this much "passion" aimed at other religions that are rooted in "fantastical" and fairy tale-like imagery, such as Muslim? There certainly are growing members by the tens of thousands right in your backyard. Or, do you conveniently continue to mock Christians out of a natural fear of your God and your lack of faith and understanding in Him? You see, the more I get to read such passionate denial, the more I'm convinced you seek prayer. And I'll give that to you. Many here will too. If you don't want prayer, or to even hear anything about religion, Christianity in particular (since oddly enough that's the one view that irks you the most), then feel free to ignore it. Until then, we'll embrace the attention your giving it, and offer you prayer and forgiveness.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Jopa

      Fatihless people are simply blind, but this is tempotrary. God reaches each and everyone sooner or later.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Georgie

      Wow. I think you were able to reduce christianty to rubble with great humor and skillful sarcasm. Thanks

      July 1, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Dasha.. Atheists are fully aware of the ludicrous and dangerous claims of islam. You have used logic and reason to convince yourself they they are wrong, but the same logic i assume allows you to believe your crazy stuff. When the beliefs of any religion are written out they are crazy..you have read Mickeys take and feel justified to refute any of them, The non believing crowd live with the false unsubstantiated claims of the pious every day we we know that it is society that is at risk if the god wars ignite.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Unrelated

    White lies concerning Obam's "beliefs" are good. Especially coming from a black man.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Unrelated

      And i like wandering around on the interwebs saying stoopid things
      to rile people up.
      Im just a little turd.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  13. mickey weedon

    When someone claims to be a Christian.....this tells me they are nuts...why? Snakes talk, people live in fish? Chicks get knocked up without doing it, a 600 year old sailor took all the bugs and birds and animals on a honeymoon cruise? You think it helps you to get elected by worshiping some dead guy on a stick? Eat his flesh and drink his blood. Your getting beamed up to your invisible space daddy in the sky, right so you and Sara shoot all the animals, cut down all the trees and spill your oil.
    Christians are dangerous for America we need a thinking person a smart person in the White House not one who believes in fairy tales!

    July 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • CG

      Never have I seen such cynicism.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • cricket

      Mickey has it right in responding to Bishop... Here is a Christian stating that mormon beliefs are ludicrous, but fundamental Christian beliefs are really just as wacko. The concept of a loving god who will damn a human being to eternal suffering if said human does not worship said god is an inherent contradiction.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  14. Bob

    Oh for the day that the POTUS doesn't have faith in a sky fairy, especially one as cruel and vicious as the Christian one is presented in the bible as being.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  15. mickey weedon

    When someone claims to be a Christian.....this tells me they are nuts...why? Snakes talk, people live in fish? Chicks get knocked up without doing it, a 600 year old sailor took all the bugs and birds and animals on a honeymoon cruise? You think it helps you to get elected by worshiping some dead guy on a stick? Eat his flesh and drink his blood. Your getting beamed up to your invisible space daddy in the sky, right so you and Sara shoot all the animals, cut down all the trees and spill your oil.
    Christians are dangerous for America we need a thinking person in the White House not one who believes in fairy tales!

    July 1, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  16. Woody

    I am actually tired of people using the bible as an excuse to not deal with reality !

    July 1, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  17. God

    Hey everybody! I'm God and I thought I would take human form in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to straighten out all this stuff about the pros and cons of a religious President. No problem, dude! Dudes! Do I have to super nova a visible galaxy for you guys to listen up, or what? Hey, I'm for any President who believes in Me. For everybody else. I grant permission for someone on planet earth to invent a new religion where God and Goddess share the rule of the universe. Forget all those tribal codes. You can have your cake this time and eat it. Simply create a Gospel According to Charles Darwin. Now get to work with this so future Presidents can be more rational in their religious fever.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  18. Case

    Put "so help me God" back in the oath where it belongs.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Bob

      I'd oppose that step backward. And the appropriate oaths about the nasty Christian god as it is described in the bible would be profanity, to be fair.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  19. Bishop Hairy Palms

    In the last half century, the economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs— 42 million of them under Democratic presidents, 24 million under the Republicans.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Barrie

      But 41 million of the "jobs" created under the Democrats were government jobs, like TSA agents, IRS thugs, and EPA enforcers.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Omg

      Those 24 million Republican jobs, any of them on US soil?

      July 1, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  20. Joe

    Another bias, manipulating attempt of CNN to make this country more immoral than it already is. CNN, get some back bone.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Sam

      The immorality and hypocrisy derives from Christianity!

      July 1, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Betsy

      This is for Sam: No, it derives from human beings who twist Christianity for their own selfish purposes.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • James Stevens

      Betsy, it's taken some twisting of Christianity to get it where it is today. The original religion is a bigoted hateful pile of garbage. Thank HUMANS for ignoring most of the bad parts with their "That's the Old Testament" excuse despite the fact that the NT says the OT still counts.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • vulpecula

      Check your facts. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were not Christians. They did not believe in the Abrahamic religions, so they were what a christian would call "Heathens". They were actually Deists born out of the American Enlightenment Age. Ever stop to think there was a reason they wanted seperation of church and state, and freedom of religion?

      July 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Doobie Wah

      Betsy

      This is for Sam: No, it derives from human beings who twist Christianity for their own selfish purposes.
      --------------------------------------------–

      Like its bad to be gay
      but ok to eat shellfish ?
      Its in your book honey, its all or nothing.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
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About this blog

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.