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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. pc

    Jeremiah Wright is Obama's spiritual mentor. “Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich, white people. Hillary would never know that.”

    October 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  2. Chris33

    Conservative "christians" are modern day pharasees.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  3. gladiatorgrl

    “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.”

    Sounds like someone who can relate and govern "we the people".......

    OR
    get out those magic underwear and stoke up those palm ashes for Weds..... "one cannot separate their faith from their work" Paul Ryan – VP debate

    October 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  4. AV

    If I listen to what Obama says long enough I no longer hear anything, but starting to see his tongue tip moving fast and splitting like a snake tongue. I am afraid that Obama is NOT a wrong kind of Christian, but in a wrong side, the hell side.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  5. Blaine

    A journalists job is to be objective, not a cheerleader. This may as well have been a campaign flyer. If a president indiscriminantly kills with drones he is not a good Christian. The Gospel according to Obama is death at the tip of a guided missile.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  6. Jack 3

    Obama's a muslim and anyone with a brain and common sense knows that.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • gladiatorgrl

      even if he was SO.....

      do you hold ALL Protestants and Catholics accountable for the IRA and their crimes against humanity?? Do you hold all Christians accountable for their crimes against humanity in the Balkans and other places??

      WHERE does it say the President of the US can't be Muslim?? Does it say he can't be Morman also??

      October 22, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • TheSchmaltz

      "Anyone with a brain and common sense knows that" is the last refuge for people with no evidence beyond their own delusions.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  7. Concerned for America

    Wake up America! Obama is a plant in the White House! Too many signs! Mitt is a good man!! Mitt puts his hand over his heart & really means it! Obama i's selling out our country & bows to them & not us!

    & watch this too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIAE6vLct-0&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Vote for US! <3

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Nii

      Simply put Rachel needs to take the Oral Arabic Course again at Oxford or Cambridge University,. Her Arabic is terrible.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  8. Serious Truth

    If it is the "Gospel" according to Obama, how come John Blake wrote it?
    Spin it! Spin it! Print what ever you think will help your side. Write what you think will hurt the other side. p.s. Madonna states that Obama is our first Muslim president and you know a brain trust like her would not lie.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  9. pc

    Jeremiah Wright is Obama's spiritual mentor. “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes three-strike laws and wants them to sing God Bless America. No! No No! God damn America … for killing innocent people. God damn America for threatening citizens as less than humans. God damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and supreme.”

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  10. Ryan

    Thank you Mr. Blake for reducing the Christian faith by allowing mere men and politics to transcend it. The importance of what Obama thinks, or Brownback thinks, or Romney thinks, or what anybody else believes is not a fraction as important as who God is and His relationship to this world. My prayer is that media and politicians will stop using faith as a way to gain influence. I do not care whether you are Democrat or Republican. GOD TRANSCENDS ALL OF IT!!!! NOT the other way around.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  11. R

    Right wing "Christians"...THE most dishonest and immoral group on the planet

    October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  12. ArthurP

    Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve

    "Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe humanity descend from Adam and Eve, but NPR reports that evangelical scientists are now saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account and that it is unlikely that we all descended from a single pair of humans. 'That would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years so not likely at all,' says biologist Dennis Venema, a senior fellow at BioLogos Foundation, a Christian group that tries to reconcile faith and science. 'You would have to postulate that there's been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.' Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century and say it's time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence."

    http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/138957812/evangelicals-question-the-existence-of-adam-and-eve

    October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  13. Rationalintn

    I have never met a "look at me" Christian, who didn't turn out to be devoted to his/her one true god – The Almighty $

    October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  14. WatrGrrl

    You mean there are really people that believe Obama is a Christian?! Yeah, that's why he cancelled the National Day of Prayer and invited a bunch of raghedds to the White House (checking out their new property?). That's why Obama refers to Islam as "the peaceful religion." That's why Obama wants "to decrease the size of our armed forces to levels acceptable to peaceful Muslim nations." That's why Obama went on a tour of mideast nations apologizing to Muslim nations for the United States. Sorry, Obama is about as much of a Christian as I am a polka-dot zebra...

    October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • D

      You might want to get your facts correct and stop parroting nutty talking points. Obama never canceled the national day of prayer.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • D

      Your "apology tour" is another myth. If you care at all about the facts, or how you construct a realistic evidenced based opinion, you might want to do a little real research.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • InTuck

      Get a clue and do some fact checking on your own – not just parroting Faux News! Mayhaps you are indeed a polka dot zebra. Obama did NOT cancel the Natl Day of Prayer. Obama did NOT go on an "apology" tour. Furthermore, is there every anything wrong with diplomacy over war? Think, people. If you want to be involved in yet another war within 6 mos, vote Romney/Ryan.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • EGeldis

      Wow, you are truly disgusting. Ragheads? You should be ashamed of the example you're setting. And you're making Christians look bad. Christ was never a discriminatory piece of trash like you – he certainly wouldn't use derogatory terms based on the head dress of another person to insult their beliefs. He used love and acceptance to convert and save many people, not hate and bigotry. I hope you someday see the error of your ways.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  15. Maurice

    Romney is the equivalent of a Bishop in the Mormon Church. I don't think we've ever had someone so high up the a church hierarchical ladder – this close to the presidency. I think it's very relevant and want to know how his religious views will influence his decisions as president.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  16. logic7

    You don't have to believe in God, doesn't mean he's not there. I just want to hear from an athiest...what do you live for. I mean, what gets you up every morning and what do you hope to discovery out of life? I'm interested to know. I get up everymorning because God lets me and I live to make a better life for my children. So, when I get to heaven I can look down and see that they are living that life I created for them and I can smile. I also wake up know that if I didn't wake up, I will be in a much better place than I am today. I have horrible aches and pains in my knees and back, and if all I believed in is that there is nothing to look forward to, then I don't know if I could nor want to live everyday with that pain. But, I know there is something beyond this life and it makes me a much happier person. You dont have ot believe that, but just wanted to hear from you.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • gladiatorgrl

      sigh.... so because you can't handle the truth, deal with reality and need an "imaginary friend" to get through the day there's something wrong with atheists?

      October 22, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Rationalintn

      I get up every morning to make a better life for my children. I don't know what happens when we die, but I certainly do NOT believe we are able to look down on the people who remain.

      "So, when I get to heaven I can look down and see that they are living that life I created for them and I can smile." There's a big difference, I'm not creating the life that my children live, I am guiding them through life. I am teaching them about character and personal integrity. It's my job to teach them to become responsible adults, and I do this by example. When they leave our home I trust them to make decisions based on the values I have taught them. I can die at peace because they have already shown they are of good character, I have done my job. I can simply love them and enjoy the wonderful time we have together.

      I don't live in fear of an angry old man judging me when I die. Also, I don't scare my children into submission with this fairy tale either. The only thing we have is our own integrity. When we violate our integrity, it feels bad to people who have been instilled with other character traits like courtesy, responsibility, and honesty. I don't steal, because I take great pride in who I am. I left my parents home, graduated from college and am able to take care of myself and my children, that gives me great pride. I have no desire to wreck what I have accomplished, by behaving badly.

      I have exposed my children to those among us who are not as fortunate as we are. Not only have I shown my children the importance of holding out your hand to those who are less fortunate or disabled, but also the responsiblity to look out for those in need because of all the gifts my children have been given. The point is, when you are feeling bad about something, you can certainly find someone worse off who doesn't complain about their plight. Stay positive because you are fortunate.

      Because I believe our time here is precious, I make the most of it. There are some good things that come out of religion. I have learned that to truly find happiness, serve others. And the easiest rule to live by is to treat others the way you want to be treated.

      Some of the most Christ-like people I have ever met, never went to church, they just served others and did not complain. Some of the worst people I have ever met are what I call "look at me" Christians. They advertise their religion for all to see, but when you see the real person, they are really ugly and treat others with disdain.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • User

      I am extremely proud to be an atheist. I wake up every day with a smile on my face *because* there is no god. It is a phenomenal feeling to know that this is my one shot to do the best I can in life. The world is so much more real without having to constantly think about some holy overlord hovering about, deciding whether or not I should be punished or rewarded. I reject the sadly misguided notion that a god is the reason why everything exists, why we think the way we do, why things happen the way they do for the same reason people would reject Obama's claim that "you didn't build this". I did build the life I am living through the choices I've made. I know what is right and what is wrong because I am human and I've seen the consequences of mine and other persons' actions. I don't need some old book or some preacher or some god to tell me. People are afraid to let go of god because they are afraid that if they do, then nothing will make sense anymore and they will no longer be protected from reality. There *are* a lot of things in this world that don't make sense, a lot of abject poverty and war and disease and crime and death. Consoling yourself by saying that a benevolent ghost is watching over will never make those things stop happening. They are afraid that if they let go of god, then when they die, that's it, you don't get another chance and you'll never come back. Christopher Hitchens said it better than anyone:

      The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • logic7

      You can believe whatever you want to believe, but I believe there is more to life than birth, breathing, and then dieing. I make it through life just fine, just with someone else driving. Whether I can see him or not, I can feel him. Its a lot sadder that you live your life alone. I didn't attack what you believe (or don;t believe), I just asked what you think and feel. Apparently nothing. You don't have to respond back, you have nothing to share. I don't look down on anyone because we are all humans. But, you just looked down on me because I believe something thats different from you.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • logic7

      So, USER, you are saying that if you take your one shot in life and fail at what you want, which a lot of people do, that their life is meaningless and worthless. I believe that no matter what if you love GOD and believe in him the you will never fail because you will reap the benefits that GOD promised. I dont look down on anyone, but you seem to look down on me just because you think there is no GOD. The way I see it is you live your life the way you want to and I love mine. We all get to see what happens in the end. The difference is that if Im wrong then I'm good, if you're wrong, your screwed. Thats a fact.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • User

      I certainly don't look down upon you. I just think you are misguided, that's all. About a failed life being meaningless, I don't think any life is meaningless, if you have 5 minutes of life that really means something to *you*, then it has not been meaningless. The fact that you do not get another chance, also, is incentive to try to do your best. If parts of your life sucked, whether it is your fault or not, then sure, those parts sucked and there's no silver lining to that in and of itself. Listen, there are a lot of very religious people who don't reap any benefits from life other than some feeling security that a safety net is waiting at the end of their life. The poorest people in the world are likely also the most religious because they don't want to face reality and take ownership of it.

      About your last comment, lets say you're right that there's some sort of afterlife, and also accept that a life of ardent non belief would exclude someone from the better of two outcomes, given that there are two outcomes, lets just say that's actually the case, then maybe you would be right that atheists would be in trouble. Lets say I'm right, and all of this was just made up by a few Jews in the Middle East thousands of years ago and biblical scholars over the ages for numerous reasons, then you've wasted countless, countless days of your life waiting for something that will never come and praying to something that doesn't exist. You've chosen time and time again not to do things for yourself and instead wait for a god to do it for you. On a lighter note, think of all the times you could have slept in on Sunday mornings rather than go prostrate yourself in front of a whole bunch of nothing. I respect you for your beliefs but I'd say you'd be sort of be screwed if you found out that you've been living a lie all along and there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I'm certainly confident enough I my view that I will gladly take my chances. Christians spend their lives saying "Oh, I'm nothing compared to God" when the truth is that the idea of god wouldn't even begin to exist if there weren't people like you holding onto false hope. I again don't mean to be disrespectful, and you can believe what you want, I just think this needs to be said.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      just because you believe in it doesn't mean it is there.

      atheists live for the day. we do not look for any reward, nor do we fear any punishment beyond life.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      "The difference is that if Im wrong then I'm good, if you're wrong, your screwed. Thats a fact."

      No, that is an opinion.

      Your opinion assumes there are only two possible outcomes

      If there is a god and it is not the one you envision, you could be as screwed as you claim non believes are with your god

      October 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  17. steve

    The evangelical crowd do care about the poor. Poor guys like Loyd Blankfien and Jamie Diamond.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  18. pc

    Jeremiah Wright is Obama's spiritual leader. “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”

    October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  19. FatSean

    Obama's opinions do seem to be more in-line with the Jesus I read about in the gospels. The GOP has embraced brands of Christianity which inexplicably reach back to the Old Testament to find things to complain about. I don't think Jesus would care if Gay people got married. He'd probably blame divorce for hurting the idea of marriage...gay or straight divorce.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  20. SoSad

    Its all about NON-CHRISTIAN MORMAN TAKING OVER THE WHITE HOUSE STOP IT STOP IT

    According to The Second Book of Nephi, a part of Mormon doctrine, “Black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God

    WHAT THE HELL IS THE 2ND BOOK OF NEPHI? THAT'S NOT IN THE BIBLE!

    October 22, 2012 at 10:42 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.