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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 • History • Poverty • Uncategorized

soundoff (2,727 Responses)
  1. El Flaco

    What are Evangelical Conservatives hearing in THEIR churches?

    "(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." –Pat Robertson

    "I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period." –Pat Robertson

    "I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" - Jerry Falwell

    July 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • rand

      You forgot to mention the millions and millions of atheist conservatives (like me) who don't listen to these clowns ...............we just go about living our lives NOT trying to BULLY schools into eliminating the Pledge because it references the word GOD> Remember this is a free country and NOT everyone on the right is trying to KEEP you from your birth control as the LEFT would like you to believe...............

      July 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Unrelated

      Atheist have to be active in promoting reason. It's not OK to turn our back on misled, delusional people. It's like knowing someone is being defrauded and lied too and letting it go.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • scoobypoo

      Rand: the problem is that the right-wing evangelicals truly do want to implement a theocracy in the US, and so enforcing robust separation of church and state is needed.

      And no mention of 'god' is needed or warranted. It's very unfortunate it exists today in the pledge, in the courts, on our currency. Jefferson would be livid.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Realist

      I'm just an agnostic atheist who wants churches to start paying taxes.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  2. El Flaco

    What did young Mitt Romney hear in HIS church?

    “I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” – Joseph Smith, Mormon Founder and Original Prophet

    "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book," – Joseph Smith, Mormon Founder and Original Prophet

    July 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  3. str8vision

    Belief in an invisible magic sky fairy is prerequisite to being leader of the world's most powerful nation? Mankind is truly doomed.

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

      so, if it is magic thing, why you don't vote for a muslim as president? you will be happy

      July 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Realist

      Nice. I've always said that I can't believe that any modern, advanced society would even worry so much about religion.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Keith

      Lucho – the Muslims have the same magic sky fairy guy

      July 1, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  4. Colin

    Dear American Christians:

    God here.

    First, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the thoughts and actions of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous.

    Second, if I did, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was edited over the Centuries, yet you cite them for the most extraordinary of claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smited all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and yet you speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric for me to even contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.

    God

    July 1, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Matt

      Amen!!!

      July 1, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • rand

      Dear GOD,

      In THIS case, you obviously need to get over YOURSELF...........and let people believe, if they choose to do so.. Remember this is supposedly a FREE NATION to WORSHIP if YOU CHOOSE! The problem with the left is they think everyone should be an atheist. By the way..................this is coming from a conservative who is an atheist............

      July 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • El Flaco

      Thank you God for that profound post!

      July 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • scoobypoo

      Excellent post, Colin.

      Rand: the problem with organized religion is that it so often is used to promote evil activities (e.g., islamic terrorism, gay bullying, subugation of women, etc.). Your argument is akin to saying that we shouldn't tell kids their is no santa claus, and let them continue believing in that too.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Realist

      You forgot to tell religion to start paying taxes.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Mike

      Brilliant!!

      The purpose of religion should be to instill positive principals in man, and to keep us from killing each other and destroying the world. The people, or aliens, or whoever set up life on this planet realized that and so they created all the religions for us, and as you said the different religions are structured to thrive in certain distinct cultures (OMG what a coincidence!!). There was no dude named Jesus Christ who was the "Son of God", but the teachings attributed to him can lead to sound, positive ways to live your life and can make you a better person (well they made me a better person). Prayer doesn't really do anything but make you feel good, but hey, feeling better is a positive thing huh? Let's face it – this stuff should be taken metaphorically, not literally. The messages behind all the stories are good and positive, for the most part. The stories themselves ("there was this dude who was God...") are just meant to generate interest, to get people to join up. That's the way I see religion.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Heathen Ledger

      For those who do not believe i could accomplish all hose things over the eons, just remember, as God, I have had super-duper computers – with countless angel techs, to sort things out – for billions of years. Heck, I can even help you win your Friday night football games.
      You might also note that the US government and its NSA are just now trying to play catchup, with their giant new billion dollar data collection facility in Utah. They have a long ways to go.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Keep up the good work Colin.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  5. rand

    This nation was founded on faith ( people fled Europe for America to have the FREEDOM TO WORSHIP AS they WISHED) and in fact, those who try to ERASE Faith from everything here......... are actually the oppressors. By the way, I am an atheist but I don't DEMAND (like the left) that ALL references to GOD be removed in America. WHY? Because I am in America because of the freedom it allows........... to BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE.................

    July 1, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • TomCom

      wasn't this country founded on Christians rights to own slaves. Founded on the premise that the white man is the only human that should have rights. All other races and women have only the rights that white men give them.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Unrelated

      By supporting religion, you are supporting lack of scientific, philosophical and educational illiteracy. It's like saying " I believe the Earth is round, but I'm OK if people believe it's flat.

      It's a sad cop out, nothing else.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Unrelated

      Scratch "lack of". Still trying to wake up. :-)

      July 1, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • rand

      hey TOMCOM..we ultimately FREED the SLAVES..........because we were founded on FREEDOM and We saw the ERROR IN OUR ways.and CORRECTED THE PROBLEM. But SOME...... seem to FORGET that we freed the slaves.................so it can be an issue that NEVER DIES!

      July 1, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • rand

      To unrelated.......and your point is? So WHAT if people want to believe in religion and ignore scientific fact....those who are atheist are trying to eradicate all things religious in schools, etc, and the religious fanatics want to add it to everything. I guess were even.........and able to live in a free nation.(well at least until last Thursday) to choose to believe what we want. Oh and I'm an atheist.............

      July 1, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Roy

      Actually, Britain send many criminals here...yes some were religious crimes, but they emptied their prisons and sent them to the colonies. So America has a strong gene of criminality in their white folk. And this country, until late 1800s, only recognized the rights of White Adult Male LandHolders to vote and be represented. Do you believe this founding should be continued? They set up government based upon the pony express being the quickest form of communication? Should our society be structured on that foundation? States had to operate independently because of these technological and distance limitation. This is not the world we live in.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Keith

      Rand, you are a liar and not a very good one

      July 1, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      You keep pretending to be athiest,
      but constantly bash the left and support the right.
      You can take off your cloak now.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  6. oldesalt

    Religion is nothing more than a social tool.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Lucho

      Also is atheism, the "believe that nothing exist" it is just a religion because nobody travel the complete universe to confirm that. Atheism = The believe that there is No creator = Other Religion

      July 1, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      This just may be one of the most stupid things i have heard..............................

      Lucho

      Also is atheism, the "believe that nothing exist"

      July 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  7. chiniquy

    So many Republicans and so-call Independent voters are so blinded by racial hatred against the president, that they will support a man who belongs to a cult religion that the majority of Americans knows absolutely nothing about. The Mormons have been planning for this day since the late 19th century. Their members have spread all over the United States (especially in the states with the largest amount of Electoral Votes). You 'ignoramuses' have been worrying about a Muslim takeover of our country, while the Mormons have been quietly moving into positions of power for the past 100 years.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  8. Patrish

    Don't care about anyone's faith or even if they believe in a God. It's about what good have the done, how they behave,and what care about. Words are cheap – the highly religious are more 2-faced and judgmental than people that have no faith. They are out to earn brownie points to get to heaven, but it's how you behave when no one is watching. So if you preach about God and love, but secretly stomp to death every frog you see, you ain't gong to get my vote. Yes, I'd vote for atheist, if I felt he (or she) was the best choice for the country.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  9. Nope

    Why wouldn't I elect an atheist into office? What's gonna stop them from becoming like Stalin or Mao with burning anything religious or banning every religion? No president ever ordered to kill atheists.But elect a hateful atheist into office who's sole purpose is to ban religion,blood shed will come.Because let's face the truth,from the comments,that's the war they will rage.To get religion out by any means,that's how far they will go.

    It can happen...because as history shown every religion and yes even atheism has its own extermists who will stop at nothing to cause bloodshed.Well I should say fakers who hide behind the blanket of that label to escape.

    Hate can do a lot to a person.Hate isn't a "religious" issue. Any of the atheists,atheists want to elect would most likely ban religion and restrict freedom of religion in America.

    The delusion for atheists in America is.."everybody is Christian!" no.over 300 million people are all Christian in this nation?!
    What a lie!.Do you count those who go to church and do nothing else as a "Christian"? Do you count fakers as well?

    Mao killed millions.What will stop an atheist from doing the same he did? He killed the religious,tried to destroy their religion..you name it.And some communist leaders burned churches etc.

    This is the violence that was shed.All to destroy religion.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • TomCom

      you're lost. religion equals violence. You ranting is a good example of how little tolerance your religion has of others not like you.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Matt

      Wow .......

      Australia is onto there 4th or 5th athiest. They currently have a female athiest.....Do you think they have problems??

      Many other countries are alike also....America just needs to grow up!

      July 1, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • notheism

      "To get religion out by any means,that's how far they will go"
      All the atheists I associate with believe in freedom of religion. What you seem to be confused about is the principle of secularism, which I am completely for. Either way, atheism is NOT a belief system!!!!!!!!!!! An atheist can be a a social conservative, libertarian, a liberal, a socialist, a communist, an anarchist etc...
      You are very misinformed!

      July 1, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Patrish

      Actually religion destroys it's self, by each one proclaiming it's the one and only. As a borderline atheist, I can't get too excited about a believe that causes anger, pain, even killing in it's name. Yes, Christians, I'm talking about you too.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Nope

      Not the atheists who comment here.Many want religion banned restricting one's own freedom.

      I've seen happen on YouTube,Yahoo!,here,and other sites.Many are hateful,growing in large numbers.

      I am talking about those who WANT to and those who already did and failed.

      Learn to read.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Keith

      When Tyranny comes to America it will be wrapped in a Flag and carrying a Bible.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Nope

      Lol the bible has been here since the birth and start of America.

      Didn't they teach you anything in school?!

      July 1, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Roy

      Psychologically, what you're doing is called projection. You know so little about atheists that you are projecting what you think and saying Atheists think that. WE know people are fake about their religion. We know that a hundred million claim a religion, yet never enter a church or temple or mosque–unless for a funeral or perhaps on Easter Sunday–because the wife guilted them. Atheists aren't looking to ban religion-we are looking to stop religions from forcing their hodge-podge of "morals" down everyone else's throat. WE actually know there aren't 300 million christians in this nations. It's your kind who see this as a christian nation.

      I bet you found it a little unsettling to read that some of the greatest presidents this country ever had weren't christians at all. Disturbing to find the founding fathers weren't christian, like the Republican lie says.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope is a dope. What would stop an atheist from banning religion? Do you know nothing about our system of government?

      July 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Athiest's are not hateful.
      Seek help.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Know What

      @Nope,

      We are governed by the U.S. Consti'tution, with 3 branches of government to cross-check each other.

      50 years ago people screamed that if we ever had a Catholic president the Pope would take over the U.S. in no time flat.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nie

      I went to the Rosemont show last night. Very disappointed to have it at the Allstate Arena where the seats are so small. There are so many bteter venues to choose in this area. I have been to the tour every single year since the start with the season 2 cast. The show was jam-packed with dancing, but it felt horribly rushed. It felt like they were just trying to get it over with as fast as possible. It was also a shame to hear that Sasha and Missy were not able to perform and many of the numbers seemed bare without them. The whole show felt like it was missing a lot of content, which I predict is because Sasha's dances most likely just got cut. It was even worse to see them bring out the set for the breakfast table dance and then just take it away. Major tease. If they had to cut her dances out, why not replace them with some other ones? The 7:00 show started 15 minutes late, had a 30 minute intermission, and finished before 9:30. I defeinitely felt like we missed out on performances that were cut because of the injured dancers. The show also felt like it was lacking in energy. I missed the dramatic beginnings where the contestants would all come out with a high energy dance, say hello to the crowd and introduce themselves. Because the contestants did not speak, it was really hard to connect with the show. In all of the years past, I left feeling like I was at a great show that I would love to see again, but this year, I left with negative feelings.

      July 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Faith

    "piety and performance" – how about character, integrity, heart, strength, perseverance, humility. These are the things that make a great president. And what steers them and drives them. If they don't worship God, they WILL worship something else. Either themselves or some other philosophy. God is good. The Christian God is one of goodness, kindness, peace, patience, faithfulness, love, joy, self control.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Matt

      My god aren't you delusional...I don't think you have even read the bible have you??

      "God is good." – Great!!! which one??! Definatley not the God of the bible...especially OT!!

      "The Christian God is one of goodness, kindness, peace, patience, faithfulness, love, joy, self control." – you mean the one who hates gays and wants to torture anyone who doesn't believe in christ in Hell forever...sounds pretty loving and peaceful to me!!!

      Go study and read your bible...you sound stupid other wise.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • John the guy not the baptist

      Really, you must have skipped over Mary's posts, hellfire and brimstone at its best, a two faced god system if there ever was one.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • TomCom

      No such thing as god. The bible is just a product of a good imagination. If it makes you happy, great. Don't push you beliefs on others. They really don't want to hear it.

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

      Oh, please – the most religious are just as devious and evil as the rest of the populations. They just like to 'brag' about their love of God in public, but In private, they commit the same crimes. Your priest and their kiddie fetish are an example. The worse part is, no one can prove a God exists or doesn't exit. Religion is controlling and vastly over rated. Give me a level headed Atheist anytime.

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

      Religion doesn't matter. They all worship and do what the people writing those big campaign checks tell them to do.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Faith

      I see a new tactic of gays is to say "you don't even know the bible" "you don't even read the bible." That is a lie. What is it I said that points to me not knowing the bible?

      July 1, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      In the old testement your God was a vicious, spitefull, narcussus.
      Guess they wrote the new testement to clean him up.
      Makes a better sales pitch.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  11. Nelson

    I find the whole discussion of faith in regards to what is supposed to be secular law revolting in the extreme. Nobody should even KNOW if the president or candidates is a member of a religion or not – it has zero bearing on the secular nature that is supposed to be a country's laws. I live for the day that nobody talks about this outside church walls – THAT would be a true separation of church and state.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • rand

      This nation was founded on faith (fled Europe for America to have the FREEDOM TO WORSHIP AS YOU WISH) and in fact, those who try to ERASE Faith from everything......... are actually the oppressors. By the way, I am an atheist but I don't DEMAND (like the left) that ALL references to GOD be removed in America. WHY? Because I am here in America because of the freedom it allows........... to BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE.................

      July 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • ihearya

      Yeah a voice of reason.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      I would rather have a scholar and scientist in the white house.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  12. KarinCP

    Agree – USA is quickly losing any sense of Faith it had – - and with the Leaders essentially 'faithless' – it only accelerates – -

    July 1, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Atheist4Evr

      It has nothing to do with our leader's faith; it has everything to do with the younger generation not buying into the fairy tale nonsense that is Christianity and other forms of theist religions. You could have the Pope as our president and the youth of our nation would still be turning their back on religion in droves. Why? Because religion has proven itself to be a hypocrisy, extremely judgmental, and a source of hate. Our youth are smarter than previous generations because they question everything and do not buy into the nonsense religion tries to force on others. You can thank your god (and its followers) for that.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • vulpecula

      Actually it's our leaders now professing their faith constantly that is causing the Atheists to speak up. We see the Evangelicals trying to rewrite our United States history, Presidents like Bush Sr. smearing atheists as non patriots when there are in fact atheists that died in his war. Stations like Fox openly mocking atheists. I'm an atheist, a veteran of Desert Storm, and old enough to remember when a presidents faith wasn't spoke of in the media. I've spent enought time in churches hearing their leaders blathering about atheists as well. Atheism isn't something new.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Brasil1958

      ....I would also like to think Atheist4evr that a lot of youth have been brought up in homes where they were not "indoctrinated" into blind belief rather left to chose their own belief. Our household defined god as "love" rather than something to be blindly followed. As a consequence we bore two lovely enlightened son's who follow no particular religion but are kind, generous and moral. I think a lot of families are like that.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  13. LogiK

    umm...because there is no such thing as "god"?

    July 1, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Robert Pike

      That's the point. Evidence of God is from ancient manuscripts. None of us alive have seen any "miracles" or any evidence of his/her existence....even the fact that believers think God is a Him shows a bias...how about father nature, mother God? It's becoming more "religulous" to more and more people every day.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Jon

      Holy crap!!! I can't believe you are not cminog to Phoenix!!! Ive gone the last 3 years and it has become a tradition for my sister to come all the way down from Montana to go with me. We LOVE the show so much it is the highlight of the summer for us. Not even Las Vegas!!! So bummed add a show here please!!! Also, the show on Wednesday night was the worst finale ever .all those amazing talented dancers and NOT very good dances. SAD!! (Katey Holmes was weird and boring and so not the perfect judge for the finale show weird chioce for sure!!) Usually love everything about the show and always those talented dancers.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  14. vulpecula

    I'd like to see an atheist president one day. But he would have to be a "freedom of religion" and not a anti-religion type. I'm all for people coming to atheism born out of enlightenment. It can't be forced.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • TomCom

      I agree, I get so tired of the Athiest type that rants that there is no god and knocking other religions. I'm an Athiest and my friends are not, I feel no reason to try and convert. Why should I?

      July 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • rdeleys

      Trying to convert someone never works. They have to come around on their own.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Brasil1958

      Somehow my first attempt got lost in cyberspace. I agree wholeheartedly. I am an atheist and have no time for "militant atheism". I think Dawkins and his ilk are fueled by anger rather than reason. Please read "Religion for Atheists" by Alain de Botton. There should be coexistence between believers and non believers and only then can we climb out of the quagmire and progress as enlightened humans. Otherwise the future is limited.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Brasil1958

      Enjoy reading your comments vulpecula. Another interesting perspective is Peter Russell's book "From science to god". Peter Russell also has a website. I myself find reading about Quantum Consciousness very interesting. Whilst watching a Bill Maher program in which he said "People say they do not believe in god but are spiritual....what is that"? I think "spirituality" is the unseen but felt within. The connection between ourselves and the world around us. Star rises and sunsets....waves lapping against the shore, magnificent vista's, children and adults for that matter laughing, human kindness, consuming with respect, loving. I have no fear of death as I have been dead before. It is so common most do not realize it. You were dead before you were born and likely will return to that state of non existence. It didn't seem to be that painfull at least there are no frightening "memories" of it? If people would just realize that they have one life to live and make the most of it perhaps this would be a better world. Tons more to say on the subject but I know you and others are on the same wavelength. Latly another good book by a Canadian author is "With or without god" by Gretta Vosper founder of the Cabadian centre for progressive christianity and a United church minister. Good stuff. Cheers.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  15. Craig

    I would like my president to not base his decisions on conversations with invisible people.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  16. Joe

    CNN stick to reporting the news. This is poorly researched. Front Page ? CNN is getting desperate.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • vulpecula

      "poorly researched"? How so? Everything said here can be easily checked. What is incorrect about it? Without any evidence, your comment is meaningless.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • notheism

      this is not "news" per se, it is more like an editorial.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Mark

      Oh, shut it.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Patrish

      Don't like it, then don't read or post.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Lets leave it up to Joe to decide what we read.
      Welcome to Iran.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  17. Thomas

    The quote, "They hate him so much,” Nielsen says. “He’s polarized the country,” certainly speaks more to the faith of the haters than the one who is hated.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • rand

      Actually he really HAS polarized the country and oh.............. I am an atheist.........

      July 1, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Roy

      Actually, the polarizing was happening under Bush. The Republican/Conservatives actions nationwide during the Bush administration convinced me that their is a severe core within the Rep/Con that will do anything to maintain their control over power. NO tactic is unethical or immoral. NO lie unutterable. No citizen can't be attacked for the good of the country. No right of the citizenry can't be compromised.

      I don't expect to ever vote for a Rep/Con ever again in my lifetime.

      The black man in the white just is just an easy target. They can count on the bigoted part of their base to be frothy. As the Repub Senate leader said (one/two years ago now?) "our top priority is to beat Obama". Not fix the economy, not more jobs, not fix health care, not end wars, not balance the budget. Beat Obama. They will do anything. They damaged our country's credit rating. They have stalled any protections against the banks raping this country again. This is a scorched Earth policy. LIke the old warmongering, nuclear strategy of stockpiling enough nuclear missiles to wipe out all life on the planet 3 times over. "Either we win, or leave nothing worth winning for."

      BUt like religion, people's belief system in a party can overlook anything. Overlook any evil. Ignore all information that contradicts, and double down on pure belief.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      *******************rand

      Actually he really HAS polarized the country and oh.............. I am an atheist.........
      -----------------------------------–

      You put "i am an athiest" at the end of every post.
      You trying to convince yourself ?
      You shure dont have us fooled.
      Moron.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Harrys Putter

      George Bush during a speach made the comment..
      You are either with us or against us.
      He stared straight into the camera and made that statement to AMERICA.
      He wasnt talking about terrorists.
      He was talking about Americans.
      Worked pretty good huh !

      July 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  18. jcl

    Obama must worship Bush because he sure uses his name a lot.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  19. slickteigkcmo

    I still see the Godliness in President Obama, he is a man of faith, and of hope, the main things Jesus has us to believe, Faith and Hope. President Obama walks the walk, of care, compassion, LOVE, he doesn't just talk the talk, So regardless of a man made "religion", he to us looks very Christian, loving, kind, compassionate, cares about all Americans, can't get much more of an example of a God loving man!!!!! God bless President Obama, his dear family, God bless all Americans, the world of Gods children for that matter :), we are His and He is for us!!!! What a difficult job to be President, does he ever sleep? eat well ? not have his heart racing, pounding all the time???? God bless you sir, I see A Man of strong FAITH and conviction, not just a "religious, bla, blah , blah, who talks but lives another way...... whoa to them that do that !!!!! He may be president but his Christian actions and values are beautiful!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you God for our leader, President Obama!!! We are blessed to have him!!!!!! May he always live close to you in his heart, mind and soul, as all people of Washington "should" but few do...... there actions tell another story, psalm 23. Hurray for our many blessings here in the land of plenty, let us all live as God wants us to!!!!!!! We are soooooo blessed to be here in the great place, wow!!!!!! Appreciate your many gifts and blessing each and every day, thank God!!!!! All of us in our ways!!!! AS diverse as we are, we are all His children!!!!!!! :)))))

    July 1, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  20. blake

    True piety does matter. Most of our presidents (and politicians) are simply professing Christians. There is nothing genuine or substantative about their faith.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Brandon

      Thankfully, otherwise we really would be in trouble. Can you imagine a President that actually believes in that nonsense getting ahold of the most powerful military in the world? Man, they'd probably start a needless war with Islamic nations under the guise of "God speaking to them".

      Oh wait, Bush did it.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:04 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.