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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. CG

    Mitt Romney has stated that he maintains a respectful separation between his religious beliefs and his political beliefs, but I still suspect that a lot of Americans are going to be apprehensive to vote for a Mormon as president. The Mormon church, of which Romney is actively involved, has a bad reputation for pushing their views onto other people, of baptizing in the name of unwilling participants who haven't requested to join their group and belong to other faiths, such as Judaism. Would Romney really be able to resist using the position of president to benefit the Mormons in some way? Religion is usually regarded as the most important thing in a person's life, above their family, above their country. At least with a Christian you understand what they believe, what their motives are, what things they respect and honor. Mormons are more of a mystery. If they're willing to baptize unwilling participants into their church, what else might they be willing to do if given the opportunity?

    July 1, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      christianity is a cult. mormonism is just a splinter group of that same cult. i see absolutely no difference between a mormon and a baptist - both support fear, guilt and ignorance.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • You Don't Say?

      Nah. People voted for Obama without hesitation and without really getting a feel if he was even religious at all. Don't think it matters any more.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Josh

      @Bootyfunk is a cyber-bully who likes to name-call those who are different from him/her. Probably safe to assume Bootyfunk picks on the GLBT community, or kids with Down Syndrome as well. A cyber-bully is a cyber-bully is a cyber-bully.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  2. Matt

    Why can't America grow up and conclude that faith eg. "the excuse someone gives to justify their belief when they have no reasonable explantaion or evidence" doesn't matter...

    Australia is onto their 5th athiest Prime Minister – or us americans like to call "devil worshippers" or "infidels" ... Many countries are alike and they don't have a problem now do they.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      you just made me extremely jealous of austrailia.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  3. Hez316

    If I read this article article correctly the author seems to state that our president is a Christian, perhaps politically liberal, but a Christian none the less. If so his faith determines what he sees as right and wrong.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • effelbee

      Ah, but the people here who do not like the President did not read the article! They do not want to change their minds...

      July 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  4. Mary

    1 John 5

    New International Version (NIV)

    Faith in the Incarnate Son of God

    5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

    6 This is the one who came by water and blood —Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

    Concluding Affirmations

    13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      translation:

      koo-koo!

      July 1, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • effelbee

      If I were Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Shinto (and many more) I would be offended by your daring to tell me this stuff. Do you understand what it means to be tolerant of others who disagree with your beliefs?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • MaryInBoise

      What are you saying? That George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are burning in hell.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Mary

      TOLERANCE TO EVIL? you are so wrong all of you, go back and study history first and global history not just one State in America's history. Some comments attacking ytruth remind me of slaves coming from the traders in the 1800 's , havent even learned the language after hundreds of years , let alone any useful knowledge. YES people who refuse Christ will be burned in the lake of fire, its alerady happened, many times, but you all dont get it. Jesuschrist performed miracles that are impossible for other than God to perform. Jesus isGod and He said: I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME. He also said how His sheep follow Him and obey Him and the rest are like wheat to the chaff, the chaff will blow away with th wind, the goats separated from the sheep. YOu deny Christ, whatever your personal conviction is doesnt mean it is right nor does it mean that if you believe in something but is not the right path and nor the God will you ever get to God. Only thru CHRIST can we get to God and the rest of religions are man made traditions nothing to do with real God. GOD IS NOT A CHURCH GOD IS JESUS and He was humble and He was good and He told everybody to love one another not to kill each other. YOu live by his rules you will live. Otherwise, like the bad fruit tree, it will be and you if you are unfaitfhul to your Creator, be cast out into the lake of fire indeed.

      Numbers 26:10…

      “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign.”

      July 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Once apon a time "Man" worshipped the "Sun".
      Somebody changed it to "Son".
      Its been a disaster ever since.

      Hey Christians, question ?
      If you believe in Jesus, why dont you worship "Horus" ?
      Horus came before Jesus, and was also born of a virgin, died on the cross
      and risen on the third day.

      Got an answer for that ?
      Maybe, because Horus didnt have his named wrapped around a bible ?

      July 1, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • sam stone

      Mary: The lake of fire is a bad joke. Now, get back on your knees and open your mouth to proclaim the coming of the lord

      July 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  5. Mary

    And who wouldn't in their right mind consult our Lord, our Creator of all that exists, when trying to govern an entire nation? Only a fool believes there is no God and a double fool believes he can do anything without God. Humans ignore that whether you like it or not GOD EXISTS and you f... up you will pay for it dearly with your eternal life. Excluding God from governing a nation means excluding GOOD for a nation to govern by any which way a person wants, and without God, it is not a good goverment but the devil's. A person who refuses to acknowledge our Lord and wants to govern a nation is a total fool because without a Supreme Being that person would not even pee. sorry. Self righteousness is loathed by the God of all nations. If you dont recognize Him and spit at him or worse off you spread lies about His everlasting existance, you will soon find out how handicap your life witll turn and at its end, the sour bitter fire awaiting for rebellions and all who rebel against the only one true God. Yawhve. You dont know who Yawhve is? Search for Him before it is too late for you. 1 John 5 would be a good start.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      Mary, you are in a cult. cults are not healthy. leave the cult. think for yourself. you'll be much happier.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • c

      only a fool believes in some invisible man in the sky and reads a hearsay book thousands of years old.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Hez316

      @bootyfunk and c. The article states our president is a Christian. Do your comments apply to him as well?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Martin

      How does it feel to be shackled by mindless religion and a bigot?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Dtek

      You are about as dumb as they come lady. Shouldn't you be in church anyway?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • DeTamble

      1oo people take off on a plane.
      The plane crashes.
      There is one survivor.
      A christian will thank the lord for the one that lived,
      but would never blame him for the 99 who died.
      When asked "why didnt your god stop the plane crash" ?
      The answer always is.........he works in mysterious ways.
      That line gets you out of a tight spot anytime you need it..

      If there realy is a god, so powerful that he can created heaven and earth,
      but he cant stop a plane crash.
      Bullship.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  6. John

    The author wrote "we tie religios faith and character together". Why? Because they ARE tied together. People are imperfect but I'll vote for a man of faith over a politically correct phoney every time.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Matt

      "People are imperfect but I'll vote for a man of faith over a politically correct phoney every time."

      Problem is John, being phoney and having Faith are the same thing in most cases. That's the irony of it.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Gayan

      You know, there have been plenty "men of faith" who have been tied to genocide, mass killings, and corruption all in their own right. Maybe you should consider that in your pursuit of a "worthy" electoral candidate.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Martin

      So how do you deal with a phony faith like Mormonism? Do you want a president who belongs to a cult, was a senior member of that cult, and believes after he dies he'll rule over his own planet??? Give me an honest non-believer like Lincoln any day of the week. Failing that, I'll gladly take a lazy Christian like Roosevelt or Clinton. Obama isn't a phony, but he did have to invent himself. He had too. What else could he do as a half-African who didn't know his father growing up (and barely knew him after that), was raised by a white mother and (mostly) by white grandparents but lived in a country that perceives him as black? He is definitely his own invention and he has made choices and espoused beliefs to suit his ambitions. Is there a cynical side to all that? Of course. But there's a cynical side to all politicians. Look at how conveniently (and obviously) Romneny flip-flops to suit his own purposes. He was adamantly pro-choice, now he's pro-life; he put in place a health insurance law in Massachusetts that was the model for "Obamacare", but now says it's not a good idea for the whole country (though he can't give specifics as to why); and yada yada...

      July 1, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • DeTamble

      *** "People are imperfect but I'll vote for a man of faith over a politically correct phoney every time."

      Rick Santorum is a man of faith, he actually believes his version of the bible.
      But he wouldnt have a problem putting gay people in camps.
      Sorry, keep your faith in your heart, but out of the White House.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  7. Dave Adams

    Give me a break, this guy is the biggest con artist in America. To even lean towards being a beliver in anything but himself in a huge stretch. He needs to be impeached, and put in jail for treason for the way he has destroyed every part of America.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Christians Are Fools

      I'll let you do that after I arrest W and Cheney and put them on trial at the Hague for war crimes, like they should be.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      @dave

      do you have a frontal lobe? seems like you don't, judging from the lack of cognitive thinking you express.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • effelbee

      I haven't noticed any part of America being destroyed by the President. Do we live in the same country? Do you not like black people? Well, he is half white and was raised mostly be his white grandparents (both of whom were religious). Let me know exactly what he has destroyed.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • MaryInBoise

      Please cite real, actual examples of how Obama has destroyed every part of America. We're waiting.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Guest

      Destroyed every part of America? Which parts, exactly?

      I'm a typical middle-class American. My life is pretty much the same as it was four years ago. I'm still running a small business, still married to someone employed by a large business, still ranting about people I disagree with on the Internet, and so on. And I am far from politically naive or inactive; much the opposite. Do I agree with all the decisions the government has made? Hell no. But I haven't seen anything, let alone everything, "destroyed."

      July 1, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • DeTamble

      To be impeached, you have to had broken the law.
      President Obama has broken no laws, you are an imbicile.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  8. Darlene

    I think the author is confusing going to church, joining a church, reading the Bible, and saying you are a Christian that you are a Christian. I don't know how he can say because some presidents weren't saints that they weren't Christians. I don't know any Christian that is perfect in every way! As stating that Lincoln and Roosevelt weren't Christians, the author has no way of knowing that because what in a person's heart and between God – only they know!!!!

    July 1, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Guest

      If only a person knows whether they are a true Christian, then it would seem better to ignore public professions of religious belief when voting. Even the Devil can quote scripture; even the most vile can claim to be good Christians. Until God decides to start smiting liars publicly (in which case we might find ourselves very short of elected officials of all stripes) we have to judge them by what they do, not what they say - and least of all what their opponents say about them.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  9. jone

    Matters not to athiests and liberals, matters that they at least have faith to the rest of us.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  10. Ryan

    The statement that Washington was a deist and not a Christian is false. While He didn't make overt statements about his Christianity as President, research into his journals and personal letters reveal a deep faith in Jesus Christ. Read the book Sacred Fire by Peter A Lillback for a more informed opinion. Its hard to trust the rest of the article when treats as fact something that is at the least in contention and at worst an obvious falsehood.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      george washington was a deist. you may not like it, but that's the facts, tiger.

      http://www.deism.com/washington.htm

      poster boy for deism.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Martin

      Washington, like others among the Founding Fathers, was a Deist. He believed that everything was created by "the Creator" (very convenient, allows you to stop pondering the imponderable) and then the Creator stepped back and just let things happen, or perhaps intervened every now and then. He went to Church (for example to St. Pauls Episcopal in NYC, which is still there) because that's what a proper English gentleman did, and Wasington thought of himself as an English gentleman. In no way was he devout, and he certainly would have no use for ignorant born-agains today.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  11. Jason

    A true Christian President, would be the best thing that could happen for the US right now. For me personally, I would trust and stand behind a President that shared my spiritual beliefs and maked decisions based on morality and justice.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Christians Are Fools

      And who are you to say that Christian morality is the only valid morality?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      I don't think anytime is good for a president to have an imaginary friend.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Mirosal

      Most people leave behind their imaginary friends when they reach school age. And as far as morality... you do NOT need a bible or ANY kind of "holy text" to justify love, but no greater tools have ever been invented to justify someone's hate.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Guest

      The only person who shares your spiritual beliefs 100% is YOU - and this is true for everybody. If you are electing anyone other than yourself, you have to compromise. There will always be differences; it's up to you (and ever other voter) to decide how to weight those differences, decide which ones matter and which ones don't.

      I too care that someone makes decisions based on morality and justice. I just don't believe that any one religion, or any sect of that religion, has a monopoly on the concepts.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      A true Christian president legislating from the bible
      would have woman stoned to death for adultery.
      Your kinda president huh !

      July 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • lsgyrl

      This is the United States of America, not the United States of Christian America.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  12. Andrew

    Religious "leaders" are merely racketeers of fears.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  13. John the guy not the baptist

    As long as the head of state doesn't let his belief in whatever, christ, vishnu, mohammed, morman, or no god at all (my preference), affect the way he fairly and honestly governs for the benefit of ALL the citizens, it should not matter what, if any, his/her religious belief. However, history has shown that when a country has been run by a religious leader tied to an oppresive religion the country can quickly revert to a middle ages standard, Afghanistan-Taliban, Iran-Supreme Leader, eg. It will be intresting to see what happens in Egypt now that their new president is a member of the muslim brotherhood. Many women who have lived in relative freedom and koptic christians are preparing to pack up and leave fearing what may happen.
    Back to the president of the USA, JFK proved that the checks and balances of the system and the integrity of the elected president are sufficient to maintain democracy no matter what the dogma of their faith/religion teaches.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  14. Mary

    "a fool says there is no God" -- Everything comes from God and to deny God means to be lead by Satan and away from any kind of justice and righteousness. A President without God would be and is a disaster in the making because the devil does exist and goes right to the person to pry her away from doing it all right. Satan wants your destruction, all humans destruction, so be my guest and ruin it all further more mr. president. For denying God, God will leave you out of his ruled Kingdom too. "verily verily I say to you that many will come in m y name saying Lord Lord but I will say to them depart from me ye doers of iniquity".
    So continue living as if there is no God because in the way and world we are , we won't last much longer and those who repelled our Lord will die by His sword.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Christians Are Fools

      So therefore you worship something because he, she, or it threatens you with death if you don't. Do you realize how silly you sound?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Andrew

      Did you not read the article?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Thecatwoman

      So, are you voting for Romney then? Because he sure doesn't believe in God, he believes in John Smith. How do you justify that one?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      "a fool says there is a God"

      Works both ways.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  15. Gauntlet

    Those who do not learn from history, are condemned to repeat it. One of the founding concepts of the United States of America, was the separation of Church and State ( State meaning government ). They need to be separated because marrying the two has always proved to be a problem. Here's a concept, it is entirely possible to do good and not be religious.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • answer is cold

      nice thought but the reality is a man and his beliefs are seldom parted.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Greg

      Actually, that amendment was not saying that church and state couldn't intermix....it wasn't written to protect the State from religion, but rather to protect the people from a State religion and interference into their practices.....

      July 1, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • TheDukeOfHighwayJ

      (reply to Greg:) That is a story being spread by David Barton who has been thouroughly discredited by both actual Christians and actual Historians.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  16. Mark

    A President's faith is essential. Also important is the President's application of scriptural concepts. Obama threw out scripture when he endorsed gay marriage, but he didn't throw out his faith. Roosevelt slept with another woman, but he wanted a divorce but his mother threatened to disinherit him. Jimmy Carter endorsed a persons right to be gay, and that was his downfall.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      faith is essential for ignorance.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      A President's faith is essential. Also important is the President's application of scriptural concepts.

      Wrong.
      You just tied faith to "scripture" because it props up your belief that gays are bad.
      I bet you cherry pick the bible just like the rest.

      Jimmy Carter lost re-election because of Iran hostage situation.
      Sad little man, Mark.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  17. Sadtimes7734

    IT DOES MATTER! That is why we are in the state we are in right now. Remember the saying" Going to Hell in a hand basket"? Well we are but we now can not afford the hand basket. Believe in the Bible and attend ONLY the churches that use the Bible every day not on occasions.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      line the bottom of your bird cage with pages from the bible - that'll make the book actually useful.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • TheDukeOfHighwayJ

      Why? What makes that book of stories different from the hundreds of others???

      July 1, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Sadtimes7734

      You two are the reason we can not afford the hand basket. I will bet the farm that when death is on your doorstep you beg God for mercy. May God have mercy on your souls.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Martin

      You're obviously very insecure in your faith, otherwise you wouldn't be so concerned with arguing with folks who don't share it.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Sadtimes7734

      Sorry Martin but I am very secure in my faith and doing what it says for me to do. That is trying to get people like yourself saved from what is to come. I force no one to do anything it is called free-will. I pray you make the trip.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Just googled it.
      Going to hell in a handbasket has been used since the mid forties
      yet, we are still here.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • lsgyrl

      I wish that tired azz phrase would go away.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  18. jon

    I would go so far as to say that religiosity makes one a worse leader. It requires you to spend less time thinking with your head and more time listening to your convictions or messages from god himself.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  19. answer is cold

    Consciousness begins with ourselves. When we have basic self-knowledge, we can then break out of the molds of our everyday lives and conditioning and start to make contact with a deeper and far more satisfying level of life and understanding. The basic introduction to self-knowledge is based on the system of esoteric development introduced to the West by Gurdjieff.The only way of affecting change in our lives is to start within. Basic self-knowledge is the key to becoming more responsible for the quality of our lives, our future, and ultimately our inner peace and happiness.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  20. greta518

    And to those complaining they have to buy health insurance and be out X number of dollars? I am a responsible citizen and have always had insurance, and I have to pay a higher premium because of those don't have insurance, and then end up sick and in an emergency room (where by law you can't be turned away if you have no insurance or money). Someone has to pay your bill, and its the rest of us! So what is preferable? Forcing people to be responsible, having the rest of us pay for the your health care, or changing the law and not admitting you to the hospital because you have no insurance?

    July 1, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      guess you don't believe in helping those less fortunate than yourself. do you realize half the people without health insurance in the US are children? but screw them, right? 50k people a year die in the US because they didn't have medical insurance. but screw them too, right?

      July 1, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Forcing people to be responsible......

      How are they not responsible if they simply cannot afford it ?
      Thats like blaming the victim.
      You must be one of those people who baught into the line.....
      49% of Americans pay no taxes.
      You mean like an 8 year old too young to work ?
      A retired person.
      Someone with disabilities ?
      All of these people are included in that count.

      Republican kool aid is strong.
      Its also poison.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:48 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.