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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. Unrelated

    It's sad to see our presidents being delusional and irrational.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  2. 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 to and ignoring it. That's not OK..

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

      Agreed. We need to do all we can to help elevate young Christians out of their inherited nonsense.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Unrelated

      In some ways it's every atheists duty to help promote reason.

      I don't even like the word "atheist". It's like saying a tail wags the dog.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • want2believe

      Promoting reason? Going around telling people their lives are based on lies is reasonable? Christians would argue the same thing about you and I. Pushing atheism on Christians is just as annoying and unacceptable as Christians pushing their beliefs on me. Perhaps you should just respect peoples 1st amendment rights to freedom of religion.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  3. jj

    Is piety and leadership a good combo? Hmmm, lets look at the pious leadership in the Islamic world for an example or two. Nope...didn't work there.

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

      It's the dogma (be it religious, Nazism, Communism or devil worship) that drives the action.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  4. 1gadawg

    man this article sure brought the anti-religious bigots!!

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

      You need to buy a dictionary; one does not have to be a "Bigot" to be anti-religious.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Unrelated

      Bigot is meaningless word, since everybody who disagrees with you is a "bigot". That's all the word means.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • vulpecula

      Is this your first time visiting the Faith section of CNN? Atheists have been here for a while.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      And the bible pounding idiots.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  5. A dose of reality

    No matter how you dress it up, there are some fundamental difficulties with Christianity that are pretty hard to overcome.
    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.
    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.
    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.
    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.
    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.
    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).
    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.
    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.
    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.
    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.
    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.
    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • david esmay

      Excellent post.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Keith

      The fallacy of your argument is that all Christians do not share those beliefs that you outlined.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • achepotle

      The truth hurts.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • david esmay

      @Keith, it's true, they like to tailor them to fit their political agenda.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  6. Tammy

    Our country was largely influenced by God fearing men as it developed. They were men; not gods, not perfect, fallible. The leaders reflected the moral code that was prevalent throughout the country at any given time. The USA was a strong presence while 'under God". Where are we now? Scripture says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 "if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." I am all for some healing. If our leader is not being led by God and we are following him where is he taking us? President Obama is a man and as such not perfect. But he is a man who has beliefs that make him who he is and determines what he will do. What he believes is very important, it makes the man.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • david esmay

      Our country was largely influenced by slave owners who wanted to expand their personal freedoms, and legitimize their subjugation of the personal freedoms of others.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Secularosity

      "Under God" was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954. The Pledge itself was written by a socialist.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  7. servantofTHEWORD

    Romans 13:1-7...our President will be held accountable for his actions...as we all will be held accountable.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • wcupunk1

      I didn't know the bible talks about the president of the US

      July 1, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Rick

      nothing but mythology

      July 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • david esmay

      Complete book of fictional myths invented by bronze age tribesmen sitting around in tents counting their wives.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Romans 13:1-12 And ye shall know the false ones by thier lying agenda.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  8. chiniquy

    Correction:
    The Book of Mormon was published in 1830 by church founder Joseph Smith, who claimed the manuscript came from his translation of an ancient "reformed Egyptian" text engraved on golden plates he found buried, with the guidance of an angel, in a stone box near his home in New York state.
    And thus began this fake religion, now called "The Church of Latter Day Saints."
    Any religion that professes in its' official teachings, that people of a certain ethnic group of the Human Family are not accepted by G-D and will not even be accepted into Heaven is not a valid religion.
    This idiotic part of the Mormon faith was changed in the 1970s because of political and financial reasons
    G-D is the Creator of everything and everyone. Despite what many have been deceived into believing, HE doesn't have a favourite ethnic group. Obeying HIS commands and living a righteous life is what HE want from us and whichever ethnic group we belong to makes no difference to HIM.

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

      Mormanism is no more fake than the rest of them.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  9. achepotle

    You have to be fairly bright to become President...even Dubya...these guys don't believe in your dopey fairy tales...they are teliing you what you want to hear.

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

      Dubya.
      The man with the IQ of his horse.
      How many fingers am i holding up Georgie ?
      Clomp...Clomp...Clomp....

      Good boy, heres some sugar.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  10. Alex

    I'm disappointed to see this as "Front Page" news for CNN. People fail to realize the connection between a Christian leader and a good leader. Indeed, there are bad Christians out there, bad Jewish people also, and bad agnostics/athiests. But the reason why we strive for a Christian leader is that presidents are often chosen by how we identify with their personal character. That being that a Christian voter would likely vote for a Christian president because they are driven by the same force. We vote for a president for 2 things, politics, and how much we like the guy/girl because they want someone like themselves sitting in the oval office and giving an impression of how we are in America to the surrounding countries.

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

      This is not "Front Page News", it is the CNN belief Blog

      July 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • The Right Left

      There is created and expected perception that a Christian President will be an honest one, since Chirstianity claims to purify your sould of evil acts. History has proven that religion is not the creator of morality and honesty. It is the person and his personal beliefs. Religion then becomes a side show as we witness it as the day of prayer in the government or taking oath with a Bible.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Alex

      It was front page news when I saw it on the homepage of CNN's website. Yes it is an opinion blog, correct. And as a matter of fact, I wasn't saying Christians ALWAYS had superior moral characters. The point I made was the relation from the voter to the president. A lot of people prefer to see someone who can identify with them, and religion can be a high driver for some people, but that's the way the elections have always been. They're popularity contests to some degree. As for me I would rather see a president who goes to church occasionally and isn't afraid to share his religious beliefs and pray up to God during the tough decisions. Rather than someone who is not observant of a higher being and tries to go without God's guidance. However politics is also important, and I would vote for the latter if his politics lined up with mine.

      July 14, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  11. James

    Our country has had its faults...But from the beginning of the U.S. Man has basicly believed in God...So in the last 30 years we take that out of our society, we don't teach morals, we don't teach honor and loyalty, and we end up with a failing school systym, corrupt politicians and business people, a welfare systym that is so full of people not willing to work or even try, and a world full of liars and cheats...Its not so much the fact that people have turned their backs on a God, its the fact that people believe in nothing that stands for good...! People think that PEOPLE are the top of the chain! We have failed, so lets build more prisons, or better than that, lets do like our President does, exclude anyone that is for him, not accountable to our justice systm....And the ones against him as the reason he is failing....If that isn't a dictatorship, I don't know what is...You people will get what you want....A failing society, that takes from the workers and gives to those who won't work...And then call that a democracy....! Blind leading the Blind...People are their own Gods now, and wisdom is a thing of the past...So let live beyond our means, lets spend what we don't have, because that makes such good sense....

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

      The situation in our Country has nothing to do with God. All that has caused the problem are the Politictions that would rather steal from the American people instead of doing the will of the people.

      When you say that God in our lives would change things you let the Scroundrels and Theives off the hook. They can blame God or the lack of God on all their devious actions and stupid mistakes.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • The Right Left

      Taking steps backwards from religion has allowed Mankind to get rid of slavery, practiced by Chirstians, given rights to women, protected labor, brought social, political and moral justice to minorities. Man failed to gain these moral higerher grounds for the last 2,000+ years under Chirstianity or Judaism or Islam, all three claiming to be loving the same unitary GOD

      July 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Dear James,
      You have washed the brown acid down with the Republican kool aid.
      The Acid is bad, the kool aid is poison.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  12. Matt

    Religion has been pushed for the last 2000 years and longer

    July 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • John the guy not the baptist

      If you limit your statement to just 2000 years it is probably just the christian religion to which you refer. If you were to be inclusive and refer to all the religions of the world you could go back a lot further than that. Religion, today, is amongst the biggest business' in the world if you use cash flow as a standard, maybe larger than oil and gas, KA-CHING. It is all about money and power.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  13. Willy Brown

    I don't care if Barry's a Muslim, he be better off telling the us vice hiding from it. He should quit sending out his ilk to bash Mormons.

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

      I haven't see the Obama team say anything about Mormans. That message is coming from the far right.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Grog Says

      Grog sorry.
      Willy left brain on floor and Grog step on it.
      Not sure you want them back.
      All squishy.
      Ha ha ha, Grog make funny.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  14. glorydays

    Simply keep your religion out of my life. Period.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  15. Nancy Myers

    It is reassuring to me to see that a man, especially the President, has a strong faith to turn to in times of distress. It is good to see that he believes in something beyond himself. Provided it is a benevolent religion of charity and good will to all, I see nothing at all objectionable in that.

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

      I would rather see my president turn to a trusted advisor instead of a mythical being.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  16. chiniquy

    The Book of Mormon was published in 1830 by church founder Joseph Smith, who claimed the manuscript came from his translation of an ancient "reformed Egyptian" text engraved on golden plates he found buried, with the guidance of an angel, in a stone box near his home in New York state.
    And thus began this fake religion, now called "The Church of Latter Day Saints."
    Any religion that professes in its' official teaching, that claims people of a certain ethnic group of the Human Family is not accepted by G-D and will not even be accepted in Heaven is not a valid religion.
    This idiotic part of the Mormon faith was changed in the 1970s because of political and financial reasons
    G-D is the Creator of everything and everyone. Despite what many have been deceived into believing, HE doesn't have a favourite ethnic group. Obeying HIS commands and living a righteous life is what HE want from us and whichever ethnic group we belong to makes no difference to HIM.
    .

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

      All religions are similarly "fake" and begin in similar ways – we just have lost track of how things like Islam, Christianity, and Judaism got started because they happened so long ago.
      To paraphrase an old quote – I would argue that you are almost as much of an atheist as me. I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand – truly understand – why you dismiss other religions (like Mormonism), you will understand why I dismiss yours.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  17. Eddie Haskell

    Where is Jeremiah Wright? The chickens are coming home to roost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  18. Three3

    Face it, it's a political tool. It only matters to those people so intolerant as to make it matter to them–but they vote.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  19. Jim Ryan

    and there sits Billy Graham – tell me, how does a con man earn a sit in the rose garden? Of course for that matter, who do the two of the other three?

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

      Because it was a whole group of Con Men

      July 1, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  20. dc

    CNN continues to push it's liberal athiest agenda, all in the name of "news." Wake up people!

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

      Oh please, that's such a crock. Why don't YOU wake up?

      July 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • DK

      Athiest Agenda. What a joke. Wake up. Religion was created to control the poor masses of this earth. Please start celebrating reason and wise up,

      July 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Keelak

      Not true, and a rather silly comment, but even if it was true – so what? Are you afraid your agenda, whatever it is, cannot withstand scrutiny?

      July 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • mensa member

      You are an ignorant, gullible fool. Period.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • want2believe

      Liberal atheist agenda? Because CNN reported on the faith of past presidents? But reiterated how important faith was to our current president? Sir, you are a joke.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • WB

      Really?! You don't like what they say that's cool and certainly your right but don't demonize others of different view points "judge not lest ye be judged yourself"

      July 1, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Hammer Of The Gods

      We have been awake for some time.
      We no longer swallow the Republican BS.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.