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The Gospel according to Obama
President Obama is not just a racial trailblazer, but some say a religious pioneer as well. No president has ever shared his type of Christianity, historians say. Some say he may revive a form of Christianity that once dominated America.
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET

The Gospel according to Obama

By John Blake, CNN

President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.

When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”

The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:

“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”

Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.

When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life so much that it gave the nation its first megachurches, historians say.

“Barack Obama has referred to his faith more times than most presidents ever have, but for many it’s the wrong kind of faith,” says Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, an evangelical activist group based in Washington that focuses on poverty and social justice issues.

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“It is not the faith of the religious right. It’s about things that they don’t talk about. It’s about how the Bible is full of God’s clear instruction to care for the poor.”

Some see a 'different' kind of Christian

Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.

No other president has shared the hybrid faith that Obama displays, says Diana Butler Bass, a historian and author of “Christianity after Religion.”

“The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S.,” says Bass, a progressive Christian. “He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”

Some Christians, however, still see Obama as the “other.” He doesn’t act or talk like other Christians, says the Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

“I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity,” says Cass, pastor of Christ Church in San Diego.

Cass says he’s never heard Obama say he’s “born-again.” There’s no emotional conversion story to hang onto.

Obama talks about his faith and attends church, but Cass says that doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.

“Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. “You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.”

The origins of Obama’s faith

The suspicion about Obama’s faith may seem odd at first because he’s written and spoken so much about his spiritual evolution in his two autobiographies, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Other books, like “The Faith of Obama” by Stephen Mansfield, also explore Obama’s beliefs.

The 1925 “Monkey” trial of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher who taught evolution, drove fundamentalists underground, some say.

Mansfield says Obama is the first president who wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Obama’s mother was an atheist and his grandparents were religious skeptics (Obama’s family has challenged the description of his mother as an atheist. Obama called her “the most spiritually awakened” person he’d ever known, and his sister called their mother an agnostic).

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Mansfield called Obama’s boyhood a “religious swirl.  He was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, and strains of Hinduism and Buddhism while growing up in Indonesia during the 1960s.

“In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology,” Obama said in Mansfield’s book. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”

Obama became a Christian while he was a community organizer in Chicago. He joined a predominantly black United Church of Christ. The UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to officially support same-sex marriage in 2005.

Obama’s faith showed many of the elements of a liberal Protestant church: an emphasis on the separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the refusal to embrace a literal reading of the Bible.

In a 2006 speech before a Sojourners meeting, Obama talked about his approach to the Bible:

“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”

When many people think of Obama’s religious experience in Chicago, though, they cite his exposure to the angry sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “black liberation theology,” a movement that emerged in the late 1960s and blended the Social Gospel with the black power movement.

Bass, the church historian, says another black pastor shaped Obama’s theology more: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He attended liberal Protestant seminaries where he learned about the Social Gospel’s concern for the entire person, soul and body.

Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, seen here praying at Obama’s inauguration, but many still doubt his faith.

King once wrote that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them …is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

But King and the black church also fused the Social Gospel with an emotional fervor missing from white Protestant churches, Bass says. Other presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the Social Gospel, but they weren’t shaped by the black church.

“This is the first time we’re hearing the Social Gospel from the perspective of the black church from the Oval Office. It makes it warmer, more emotive, more communal," Bass says. "There is less fear of linking the Social Gospel with the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of Exodus and Jesus’ healings.”

The emphasis on community uplift - not individual attainment - may strike some Americans as socialist. But the emphasis on community is part of King’s “Beloved Community,” Bass says.

King once wrote that all people are caught up in an “inescapable network of mutuality… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”

“When I listen to Obama, I don’t hear communism, I hear the Beloved Community,” Bass says. “But a lot of white Americans don’t hear that because they never sat in those churches and heard it over and over again. It’s the whole theology that motivated MLK and the civil rights movement.”

Obama is not a Christian, some think

For some, Obama’s actions in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity.

Jesus was nonviolent. Obama has ramped up drone attacks in Afghanistan that have not only removed terrorists, but killed civilians.

The Bible talks about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Obama invoked Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule," Obama told ABC News during his announcement.

Jesus talked about helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health care law that taxed the rich to help the poor, some Christians argue.

But Wallis of Sojourners says Obama’s push for health care was a supreme example of Christian faith.

A situation where 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance is “a fundamental Christian problem,” Wallis says.

“Health is such a Gospel issue. Jesus was involved in healing all the time, and to have some people excluded from health care because they lack wealth is a fundamental Christian contradiction.”

Wallis has been one of the most persistent defenders of Obama’s faith. But no matter how much Scripture he and others cite, doubts about Obama’s faith have followed him throughout his political career.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once said that Obama distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible “to fit his own world, his own confused theology.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, publicly questioned Obama’s faith, then later apologized.

Conservative Christian books and websites are filled with stories of Obama allegedly trying to suppress the nation’s Christian heritage.

The Rev. Steven Andrew, author of “Making a Strong Nation,” says Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and he’s ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.

“That’s the most serious thing someone can do to a nation, trying to separate a nation from God,” he says. “He seems to be trying to change the Christian laws our Founding Fathers made.”

Andrew says Obama is actually an enemy of Christianity. In his book, Andrew argues that the Founding Fathers were Christians who created a “covenant Christian nation” and calls for a “national repentance.”

“I think he’s an anti-Christ,” Andrew says.  Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice isn’t Christianity.

Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism,” Cass says.

“Do I believe in caring for the poor and oppressed? Yes. But you don’t do it along the lines of communistic redistributing.”

Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights also disqualifies him from being a Christian, Cass says.

“It’s the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America.  On every social issue – the sanctity of life and of marriage between men and women – Obama is on the wrong side of every moral issue,” he says.

He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.

“No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible,” Cass says. “These progressives who say they’re Christians are liars. They’re using Christianity as a guise to advance their own agenda.”

Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.

“He’s conflicted,” Cass says. “He has Muslim sympathies from his upbringing."

How progressive Christianity lost the public square

There was a time when Obama’s brand of Christianity would have been understood by millions of Americans, historians say.

Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha leave church after attending a Sunday prayer service.

The Social Gospel and progressive Protestantism dominated the American religious square from the end of the 19th century up to the 1960s. At times, the traditions blended together so seamlessly that it was hard to tell the difference.

The Social Gospel rose out of the excesses of the Gilded Age in the 1880s, when urban poverty spread across America as immigrants crammed into filthy slums to work long hours in unsafe conditions.

Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor in a New York slum, urged the church to take “social sins” as seriously as they took individual vices. Churches began feeding the poor and fighting against other social ills.

“The notion that religious people should be about feeding the poor and helping the homeless is a carryover of the Social Gospel,” says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. The Social Gospel was adopted by many Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th century, says Bass, the church historian. Some of the Social Gospel churches grew popular because they provided the poor with everything from English classes to sewing instructions and basketball leagues.

“The first American megachurches were liberal, Social Gospel urban churches,” Bass says.

The Social Gospel, though, sparked a backlash from a group of pastors during World War I. They were called fundamentalists. They published a pamphlet listing the “fundamentals of the faith:” Biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Adam and Eve.

But the fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.

Though Scopes lost, fundamentalist Christians were mocked in the press as “anti-intellectual rubes,” and a number of states suspended pending legislation that would have made teaching evolution illegal, says David Felten, author of “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”

The trial drove fundamentalists underground where they created a subculture, their own media networks, seminaries and megachurches, he says.

That subculture thrives today, Felten says, and has infiltrated the political arena. It has created an “alternative intellectual universe” that denies science, rational thought – and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a Christian, Felten says.

“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve – so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felten says.

Progressive Christians eventually lost the messaging wars to this fundamentalist subculture, Bass says. Their nuanced view of faith couldn’t compete with the “spiritual triumphalism” of conservatives.

“If you get up and say we’re right and we have the truth, then you have a powerful public message,” she says. “They have a theological advantage in the public discourse. It’s comforting to have things clear, to have things black and white.”

The result today is that the Protestant tradition that shapes much of Obama’s Christianity is fading from public view.

The share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

White mainline Protestants make up only 15% of the nation’s population, the survey revealed. The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

Another generation of Christians, though, may bring a new version of progressive Christianity back.

The lines between younger conservative Christians and progressives are blurring, says Marcia Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Pally spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She says her research revealed that more than 60% of young evangelicals support more governmental programs to aid the needy, as well as more emphasis on economic justice and environmental protection issues.

“What’s interesting is that these values, associated with Obama and the black Protestant tradition are now also the values of a growing number of white evangelicals,” she says.

Her perspective suggests that Obama’s faith may be treated by history in two ways:

He could be seen as the last embodiment of a progressive version of Christianity that went obsolete.

Or he could be seen as a leader who helped resurrect a dying brand of Christianity for a new generation.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church • Courts • Creationism • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Evangelical • Evolution • evolvution • Faith • Fundamentalism • Gay marriage • Gay rights • God • History • Homosexuality • Interfaith issues • Obama • Protestant • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage • Schools • Science

soundoff (8,626 Responses)
  1. queenbee

    More appropos: is romney a Christian at all? space aliens and magic underwear and "levels of power" are simply not part of the bible or the Christian lexicon no matter which version you read.....

    October 22, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • Terminator Jesus

      Most apropos: religion and government have nothing to do with each other. Religion is only used by politicians to get voters all riled up and willing to send money and vote, when in fact it is nothing but a distraction from more relevant issues. For politicians, the best part about religion is that they never have to deviler anything – the people vote, but they get nothing.

      Another issue like this are guns, a dead issue politically, though gun manufacturers have prosperred dramatically under Obama due to the paranoia of their customers (same was true under Clinton).

      Too many American voters are easily shorn sheep.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  2. rodericke

    When Wallis and Warren are described as "evangelicals" when they too are Social Gospel advocates, it is obvious that the author of this article doesn't know what they're talking about or they are distorting willfully.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  3. lacoaster

    The worst deceases of the 20th Century: Religion and Politics. But seems that people cannot have enough of it. Just like popular movies of violence. Monkey see, monkey do and Simon says people. Us versus them is the new value to define a human. A never ending circus. Media fed crappola. What is true now is whatever is convenient for one individual to think or believe, even better if it goes against another. Let the next fix it. Sad.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  4. TheTruth

    God bless Obama...

    The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.
    For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
    The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.
    But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. (Isaiah 32: 5-8)

    October 22, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • BEAR

      No ideas of your own? You sound like a Taliban conscript.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • TheTruth

      Bear, you missed the point. If you read this scripture closely, it shows what is going on now. Obama is liberal, and Romney is vile. Romney tells lies in order to get into office to destroy the poor for greed.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Debi

      President Barack Obama has the perfect Christian faith:

      1. If church doctrine comes to a place where he doesn't agree, he changes churches.

      2. He verbally admits to be Christian, and that is all any Christian has to do to prove his faith to anybody.

      3. He has faith, but it he isn't a Bible Thumper, who would allow his faith to cloud his mind while making decisions.

      What is not to like? Would it be better if he were a lunatic who believed God was an alien on a planet in outer space? The alternative is so ridiculous...it has to be a pay off, there is just no other explaination.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  5. BEAR

    Finanly an article that talks the truth! Evangelicals are not Christians, they are selfish extreme cult fanatics using the good name of Jesus to justify their greed and brainwashed ideas. Evangelicals religions are all cults no different than David Korash. The fact that so many Americans have fallen into these cults is very disturbing. None of them differ from each other and they all demonstrate fanaticism no different from other cults such as the Taliban, Safardic Jews and groups such as Reverend Moon, David Korash and Jim Jones.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  6. Aristocles

    This is a joke. Liberal churches are dying, the Catholic and Mormon churches are growing fast, Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations are exploding, most people who disaffiliate from religion do so out of a liberal church, and CNN thinks liberal Christianity is doing well?

    This is what happens when people who do not believe in God, or follow a watered-down version of Christianity get to make the news.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • BEAR

      You really are a heretic!

      October 22, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Would you include Islam in your equation which is growing fast as well?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Sarah Conner

      And "no religion" is totally outgrowing all of them as a choice regarding attitudes towards religion.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  7. His lucky charms

    A masonic ring and another ring which states "there is no god except Allah "(venus/saturn) Boy seems like he is NOT Christian at all. Oh well all religions are fabricated with other gods, christians don't even know who they worship anymore. But hey the destruction of the churches are all apart of the great work...

    October 22, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Smite Yourself

      One of your big 10 is not to lie. Have you forgotten that?

      Your imbecility will hasten the demise of religion faster than anything else.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  8. Look up his lucky charms

    A masonic ring and another ring which states "there is no god except Allah "(venus/saturn) Boy seems like he is NOT Christian at all. Oh well all religions are fabricated with other gods, christians don't even know who they worship anymore. But hey the destruction of the churches are all apart of the great work.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  9. fran drake

    God/Jesus are not members of the GOP...there are Democrats who are Christians contrary to "the official story".

    October 22, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  10. returnofthetribes

    This is by far the worst propaganda piece that I have seen so far. Obama Religious? God fearing? Who are you trying to appeal to? Obviously not the Christian voter. We are not dumb and we do not think anything Obama is called by God to lead us. Unless... it is to national death.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • NoTheism

      oh, you wanted a pope for president... gotcha

      October 22, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • BEAR

      You obviously don't know what Christianity is all about. I'm 59 y/o and as a youth going to Church (Presbyterian), the ministers talked about social justice, caring for the poor and being tolerant of other people's beliefs. That is what a true Christian believes. You are part of this cult that has wrapped themselves in the Banner of Jesus when you don't follow any of his teachings. SHAME ON YOU!

      October 22, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Rachel

      And God led Bush to declare war on both Afghanistan AND Iraq.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  11. vance odonnell

    my God is better than your God....la la la

    October 22, 2012 at 2:17 am |
  12. anonymous

    Any kind of God talk is irrelevant and stupid

    October 22, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Yet .. you are doing the same now.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • SLTsherey

      Although I would tend to agree, there are still large numbers of people who do feel it is important. While the balance will change eventually, for now I think we do have to keep an eye on who says what – or more importantly who does what – only because they're still in the majority and thus have some degree of influence for the time being.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  13. george

    Tyler,

    Movie 2016 is made by a caricature who became famous by making bizarre statements about Obama. Dinesh D'Souzaclaim to fame is that he figured Obama's father was an anti-colonial African and that makes Obama a secret anti-colonial man. News for Dinesh is that the most loved President and hero of our country, George Washington was a proud anti-colonist! . May be Dinesh detest for anti-colonialism goes back to his detest for Indian hero Mahatma Gandhi. Deep in his heart this little man wished India was still under colonial rule of British Empire . May be his childhood dream was that he wished he was a British boy than an Indian. Who knows?

    October 22, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  14. Colorado

    I think one of the great ironies of this election is fact that Romney has been embraced by Christians who's views and ideology are probably more in keeping with the President's. Keep in mind that the reason that Romney's father was born in Mexico was because his great grandfather moved there to practice Polygamy-he had 5 wives. Not exactly a mainstream Christian practice. While Barrack Obama's grandfather, Stanley Dunham was at home serving in WW2. Mormons believe in an additional scripture called the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible. The GOP has their followers thinking they have corned the market on God but their actions would suggest anything but accurate adherence to Christian principals of honesty and decency. Romney's main motivation is to bring more profit to the super wealthy on the backs of the middle class and working poor-Jesus would have been enraged. You do recall what he did to the money changers in the marketplace.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  15. Bob Smith

    "Literal" does not mean that what was told to one person at one point in time is a command for everyone with the same faith.

    A literal reading of God commanding Noah to build an ark means that God commanded Noah to build an ark. Likewise, the command to a theocratic Israel to kill an apostate does not mean that a Christian is to do the same. That's not to deny there are many direct applications of timeless truths – "love your neighbor," for example. But a literal reading of that passage is that Jesus told those following Him to love one another. Since true believers today follow Him as well, "love your neighbor" would be an appropriate application of His teaching.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  16. Michael

    The fact of the matter is, there's a hell of a lot more Ayn Rand in the philosophy of the republican party than ANYTHING you'll find in the New Testament.

    October 22, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  17. Ignominious

    Jesus Christ never taught or directed anyone to get the government to take care of the poor and needy. To forcibly take from some to give to others is evil and contrary to Christ's teaching. Charity can only exist when an individual or group voluntarily assists others. These people were taken care of before the government over stepped and now many are slaves to the handout.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Tyler

      Well said

      October 22, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Michael

      Yes, history tells us how they were taken care of, especially at the turn of the century... child slavery, little to no safety regulations, and mangled workers, all of which the republican party has no problem turning the clock back to. It might be easier to take you seriously if conservatives even showed the slightest concern for the poor, but there is nobody that they show more contempt towards... even programs that are used to help people get jobs are looked at as "handouts" and it's impossible to get a job in this day and age WITHOUT training. These people would either starve to death or be forced to attend soup kitchens for the rest of their lives if you had your way. You merely offer excuses for willfully ignoring Christ's commands to serve the poor. Maybe you should read the parable of the sheep and the goats again.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • db

      Excuse me, but you are not Jesus Christ so you have no idea what was in his heart. The Bible contradicts itself on just about every page. You can interpret things any way you please and call it "God's Word". Why do you think there are so many different Christian denominations? It's because everybody interprets things differently. Personally, I think the Bible features a thread of wisdom running throughout but for the most part, it's a bunch of tall tales written to keep people in line.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • Observer

      Ignominious,

      Ooops! God destroyed Sodom because the people were greedy and didn't share with the poor and needy.

      If you want to use the Bible, why not read it?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Al

      And your motives are so pure right?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Ignominious

      Michael,
      Statistically conservatives(Republicans?) donate more to charity than liberals/progressives(Democrats?) so it would appear that you are simply regurgitating the lies you have been fed to justify relying on government theft programs. There's no longer any shame to be on the dole to motivate people to get off. You probably also believe it was the Dems that spearheaded racial equality laws and that it was the Repubs that tried to block it I suppose. The result of government schools history courses.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • foxfroggy

      You forget one salient point: in America, we the people ARE the government.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • BEAR

      SHAME ON YOU SINNER! YOU are using the name of Jesus justify your greed. God has a warm place for you reserved after you pass on .

      October 22, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • Michael

      Ignomious,

      As I pointed out in an earlier comment, conservatives, despite their constant references to the Bible, conveniently overlook the verse where Jesus says to not let your right hand know what the left is doing when giving to charity. In other words, try to do it as anonymously as possible. Yet if you don't shout it from the rooftops like the republican hypocrites do, they accuse you of not doing it at all, as they like to rub ALL of their deeds into everyone's faces.

      Furthermore, they don't donate to soup kitchens, missions, etc., you know, places that generally help the POOR. They donate to conservative churches and other organizations that support conservative causes. In other words, they are basically giving lots of money to others who will advance their agenda! NOT the same as giving in good will!

      Finally, yes, I am aware of our nation's history and you apparently have a very self-serving version of it, or do you think that the south has at any point been liberal? It HASN'T. The racist dixiecrats who supported segregation and who were in cahoots with the KKK switched parties in the mid 20th century. This is common knowledge. Why do you think that the (then) traditionally democratic south eventually became traditionally republican? If anything, you were counting on me being ignorant enough to accept your dishonest spin on things.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  18. Feral Urchin

    In no other areas of our lives would we listen to a salesman, pay money, and have so little reason to believe that a product will be delivered. Religion sells such nostrums and snake oil as "salvation", "eternal life", a "personal relationship with God", "divine blessings", etc, etc–without the slightest evidence that such products will be delivered or even exist.

    How can there be a "right kind of Christian"?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • J Fear

      What makes you say that? What proof do you have for the existence (or lack of) these things? I think the reason these types of articles get hundreds of pages of responses is because we all know this is such a huge deal, and we'd better be right, whatever we believe.. You may think Christians are narrow-minded, ignorant, intolerant, whatever. If you take the time to open your mind you'll see that since only one of us can be right you'd better make sure you have proof it's you. Again I ask what evidence do you have to prove your beliefs? Some Christians may have bad character traits, or deliver their message poorly, that doesn't change the fact that their message is true and bears looking in to. It is after all, eternity.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • sam stone

      "If you take the time to open your mind you'll see that since only one of us can be right"

      Or someone else might be right.

      Proof? Proof is for mathematics and liquor. For all of us, it is an opinion.

      "Again I ask what evidence do you have to prove your beliefs?"

      I have no "evidence" for my beliefs. Same as you.

      "...that doesn't change the fact that their message is true and bears looking in to."

      You sure seem to have a problem confusing opinion with fact.

      "It is after all, eternity."

      empty proxy warnings bely a poor argument

      i find it interesting that people seek "eternity" with a being from whom they have to be "saved"

      "

      October 22, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  19. Sean Dash Smith

    LOL. "The wrong kind of Christian." Ha! You might as well be arguing about "The wrong kind of Easter bunny."

    American Christianity is a farce. Evangelicals are the worst, most judgmental people I've ever met.

    Most of American Christianity has NOTHING to do with the bible or any of the things Jesus taught over and over again:
    Care for the poor. Don't be materialistic. Love thy neighbor. Have Faith & Do works.

    Somehow "Faith" alone will get you to heaven in some people's eyes - but that is a LAZY interpretation of Christianity that won't pass muster when you get to the gates.

    But people in America are too ignorant to change. America is fat and lazy and deserves the decline it's facing. And yes I'm an American but I can see the writing all over the wall.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  20. Tyler

    "...it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felton says.
    NOT A STRETCH AT ALL!!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Observer

      Tyler,

      It's not a stretch for you, which should be pretty embarassing. Not one top Republican agrees with you and not even FOX News is spreading these lies. That shows how pathetic your nonsense is.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Tyler

      Just go see the movie 2016. Just like Romney's tax plan....it all adds up!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • Angela Birch

      Huge stretch, there are public records proving he was born in Hawaii. Secret muslim??? Based on what? His family wasn't muslim he was sent to a Catholic school in Indonesia. He was raise from the time he was 8 in Hawaii. Might as well say he was a Hindu born in Latvia.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • george

      You guys are NUTS!

      October 22, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • Angela Birch

      I saw 2016 it is crude propoganda, enphasis on crude.
      As for Romney's tax plan it doesn't add up. No economist has been able to make it add up unless it massively increases the deficits and then the debt. When a candidate cannot give you specifics and Romney doesn't it is because it doesn't work. Any time a candidate says he won't tell you the numbers till he is hired, you don't hire him. I am an employer I literally have several thousand employees and there is no way I hire a guy who lies in his job interview, has erased his personal history and who when you ask him, what can you do for the company sayd " Hire me and find out"

      October 22, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • Observer

      Based on the YouTube clip that supposedly shows the basis for the movie, it's loaded with proven LIES. Not surprised that a birther would swallow it hook, line and sinker.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Beloved

      Tyler, it is sad to know there are still uninformed people who don't know that God and Alah are one and the same. Depending on the language you speak, you use a different word meaning God . Knowledge is power, learn more.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • rhicsj1

      and might as well believe the Aliens are coming to invade the earth too just like Battle LA and Battleship! Repubs prove over and over how much they are devolving.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      We are all de-evolving in someones eyes and advancing in another's. Biden is a great example or Obama if you dare to challenge him in a debate. You by throwing out insults to attempt to win a argument is no different than the 700 club types.

      The ones that are at least making the attempts to evolve will always be the ones that are trying to co-exist and live with tolerance of ones that might not share your views. It is easy to hate and throw out ridicule. Any elementary kid can do that. It takes effort and strength to make the attempt to cross the aisle and make peace.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • Observer

      Mark,

      Romney won out over the other Republican contenders by spending a huge amount of money on negative campaigns, so skip the "holier than thou" bit.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Observer, I wish it was “Holier than thou” but it really is just another person who is tired of what is happening on both sides. Romney is a politician in the same way as Obama, and I do not feel you should trust either of them but good grief... Biden and Obama really hate to be questioned and confronted. I would say it was the same as with Christie but at least that guy has proven that he can work and respect both sides. Obama, is a University professor that it appears believes that everyone is one of his students and the only response to a doubt is pure wrath.

      Romney is just going to spin and blow smoke up our rears and Obama is just going to run over us while we are figuring where the smoke is coming from.

      … and we get no where as a society. 50/50 splits mean that neither will have the will of the people, only half of them but it will not stop both from declaring that 95% of the American people will be for them.

      Observer, do you really believe that we can have a healthy society while being this polarized? History has shown we can have healthy Civil Wars when a population becomes this divided.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Observer

      Mark From Middle River,

      I agree that this polarization is killing us. There's a lot to be said for setting major limits on contributions by people or PACs. There's getting to be some good points in even trying to eliminate parties. What hope do we have when the top priority of Republicans is not to work together to fix our messes, but to make the president look bad so he won't be re-elected.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Observer. Limiting spending is a good idea but at the same time you are limiting the actions of another. Just because a person has achieved success or even because they were born into it, the other side also has a bit of a point, that it should not restrict them from donating any amount they want because it is their money. Its not like if they are buying drugs or illegal guns, they are supporting a candidate. Unions are no different.

      The problem with taking on the campaign finance battle is that you are effectively conceding that the general public is too stupid to realize that a person, or a union a company or a action committee are doing during election time and that the government needs to step in and protect them from influence.

      >>>”What hope do we have when the top priority of Republicans is not to work together to fix our messes, but to make the president look bad so he won't be re-elected.”

      … and you think that Democrats are not of the same mindset when it comes to the Republicans? The top priority … ANY politician has is to win his or her election. Think about it... we have a embassy and its embasitor blown to bits and other issues and right now Congress is on break to return to their states to run for election...when only half of them are running.

      In class a few years ago one of our professors found a quote from the East Coast of a state senator in Maryland that declared:

      “In 2006, Senate President Mike Miller bragged, "We're going to bury the Republicans six feet deep, faces up, so they won't come out for 20 years."”

      To further prove my point that the entire political system is majorly crap in the highest degree. Bill Clinton is closer to the Bush's than he is to Al Gore. When Obama came into office he contacted Cheney … who according to Michelle Obama who researched Baracks family tree...is really related to Barack.....to get advice on the troop surge in Afghanistan.

      Nancy Pelosi, honored Reagan as one of the greatest president at a statue unveiling.

      I will close to say that the Dems and the Repubs are so much in bed with each other that it is a waste to debate eliminating of the parties.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Observer

      Mark From Middle River,

      We used to have parties that made some effort to work together. Both parties are guilty, but the Republicans especially try to force out anyone who isn't far to the right. Democrats do seem to welcome more moderates.

      Money should not be the major factor in selecting our leaders when it comes to campaigning. When there are still simple-minded people like the birther commenting on here, we know that some minds can be easily manipulated by whatever they read.

      We have reached a new low when the #1 Republican says that his #1 goal is to spend 4 years trying to ruin the president's chances for re-election. It was his party that started a $1,000,000,000,000 war for false reasons and dumped it on Obama and us to pay for. But then again, Republicans apparently never apologize for being grossly wrong.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:36 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.