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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 • 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. TheVocalAtheist

    There was no God, there is no God and there will never be a God. It is all nonsense and it is an extremely debilitating mental illness. Ignorant to the point of destruction. Keep the supernatural to yourselves and out of our schools and government.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • David

      So, you're saying, that since 97% of the world believes in some sort of god, that YOU and your 3%-ers are the only sane people on the planet. Yeah, okay, right. Thanks for 'enlightening' us po' ignorant crazy folks.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • TheVocalTheist

      PROVE IT!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @David

      Based on our existing evidence in this natural world, yes, we would be the saner.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • True patriot

      How do you think our nation got started num-nuts. If our four fathers were atheists, our country would be British, not American. Theres a reason why our nation is number one, god blessed America. If you don't like that, then get out of my country, you atheistic communist.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
      • TheVocalAtheist

        Unless you can prove to me there is a God then your America was blessed by nothing, moron.

        October 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • terre haute

      @David

      Strong words, bad facts.

      ~20% of the world's population does not believe in a diety, including 13% who consider themselves non-religious. ~60% are monotheists, although only half of those are Christian. 55% of global Christians are Catholic, which most "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists" barely consider Christian anyway. The other ~20% are polytheists or nature-based spiritualists.

      The truth is, we're all in the minority. The two largest (and ideologically closest) religions, Christianity and Islam, can hardly be considered a 'majority coalition', so let's just set aside the "believers are the overwhelming majority" talk. No matter what your beliefs, you are in the minority (including me). Humility is appreciated. :)

      October 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  2. bored already

    Religion has NO place in politics!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • TheVocalTheist

      Except yours, you mean.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  3. Michael

    God knows in my own understanding any man that pledges to anything but god is no true christian.! I have given all to him i own nothen all belongs to God and his Christ.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Danny Kerensky

      So your house and car and everything are God's, but you get to use them, right? THat's how you get to give your goods to the poor and still keep them, right?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  4. billy davis

    Funny how folks continue to question Obama's religion but are comfortable with a Mormon Bishop that treats women as second class citizens and believed blacks weren't human until 1978...

    October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  5. Chris

    There is a difference between helping those who cannot help themselves and people who live off food-stamps, welfare, unemployment check without any intention of going out and getting a job. I've helped others in times of need and give provisions to those in need. However, that should be my choice. I shouldn't be taxed further and told the government will take from me to... "spread the wealth." I don't know where my money is going...

    October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • billy davis

      Do you honestly believe that people that lost their 6 figure jobs because of the economic collapse under Bush wants to remain on welfare, food stamps etc; That doesn't cover but 10% of their living expenses? If so, you need a reality check. I know many people from my industry that lost everything and have struggled to find employment because they are overqualified, too old or just too expensive to hire by these cheap employers. They used the bad economy to under pay folks desperate for a job.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  6. 1ofTheFallen

    Vote for Obama and ObamaCare and your children may die waiting lines to get treatment. Just like little Lucie Linforth in the UK. Poor Lucie's Dad Eric, 33, had rushed his daughter to the practice after she had feverish coughs during the night.
    Her mother Angie Collins has claimed he repeatedly pleaded with receptionists to get a doctor to examine Lucie but he was told to wait his turn. This is what government run healthcare is like. In Canada the waiting lines and have increased to the longest ever. If you are misdiagnosed or not critical you may have to wait as long as 8 to 9 months. Why do you think the Canadian PM Danny Williams went to the US for his heart Surgery in 2010 or Canadian Mountain-bike enthusiast Suzanne Aucoin who had to fight more than her Stage IV colon cancer. Her doctor suggested Erbitux—a proven cancer drug that targets cancer cells exclusively, unlike conventional chemotherapies that more crudely kill all fast-growing cells in the body—and Aucoin went to a clinic to begin treatment. But if Erbitux offered hope, Aucoin’s insurance didn’t: she received one inscrutable form letter after another, rejecting her claim for reimbursement. IN THE US Erbitux IS STANDARD TREATMENT. In the UK 16,000 patients are denied cancer drugs. 8,000 because the drugs are too expensive and 8,000 because they have little chance of survival and are most likley going to die so the government does not want to waste the money.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • yeahalright

      You know what else causes a denial of service – when you can't afford to pay the bill.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  7. billy davis

    Funny how folks continue to question Obama's religion but are comfortable with Mormon Bishop that treats women as second class citizens and believed blacks weren't human until 1978...

    October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  8. scb

    "My favorite part of the Bible is where Jesus gives money to the rich, tells the poor to suck it up, and asks for Caesar's birth certificate." Many contemporary Christians have lost sight of Jesus' core message. How else to explain things like prosperity theology?

    We're going to get an equivalent article on Mitt Romney detailing his Mormon faith? I find it amazing that anyone would find Obama's faith more alien than Mitt's. I think Mormons should be able to practice their religion just like anyone else, but it's pretty clear that most Christians know little about it, unless it's me and I missed the part where Christians baptize dead people, believe in Kolob, and wear sacred underwear - and that's just for starters.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • pc

      Obama is an atheist. The days of believing in god are soon over and our politicians will no longer have to pretend for the masses.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • GAW

      That must be from the Republican Bible. 2001 Edition. Esp the books of 1 and 2 George W.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  9. pc

    Obama, like any sensible liberal, is an atheist.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  10. David

    As Paul wrote:

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

    But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

    Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    [Galatians 1:6-10]

    October 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      So then David, Popularity driven by vanity is a very ungodly behavior required to be elected President, or nearly any office. That is why we are discussing the core values of the Man and what lines are not crossed; for the sake of Populism.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  11. NorCalMojo

    He doesn't seem very religious to me. It seems to be a way to get votes for him.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The Democratic Party is losing the Catholics to Romney, just as Catholics were Romney's largest block of Christian voters in the Republican Primary. If Obama were not Black this could be balanced out by the cross burner christians.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Matt

    His political views are certainly not Christian. Abortion? Gay marriage? Forcing churches to provide birth control? These are not things Christ advocated.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jo

      Please get your facts straight. Nowhere in Obama's policies are churches required to provide birth control.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Do us all a favor and move your Christian butt somewhere else.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Maybe – just maybe – he sees the need to separate one's religious beliefs from decisions that affect everyone else?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Zach

      SActually Jo, the heathcare bill did originally require churches, who employ people, to provide for birth control AND abortions. The government even went to court with the Catholic church over this issue and LOST. The law has since been changed to exempt churches, but not religious oriented hospitals or schools. That case is in the courts currently.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  13. GAW

    Who is Romany? Is that any relation to Ramen noodles?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  14. terre haute

    “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?” – Barack Obama

    Lots of attacks on this board. Haven't seen one person actually attempt to prove this statement is misguided. The bible is full of examples like the ones mentioned above, and it is intellectually dishonest to say "I believe the bible to be true" without being willing/able to defend its contents. If you believe the bible to the word of God, then you must by extension believe that women should be subservient to men, for example. The Apostle Paul specifically forbade letting women teach your children or hold influence over men. If you believe the bible to be true, then you cannot, by definition, believe that Paul is not right. The only "way out" is to state in some fashion that the bible is not literally true, which opens up the "word of God" to human interpretation, I personally think that's perfectly rational, but I'm guessing most fundamentalists would disagree.

    Sadly, I'm sure this post will be met with attacks and comments about "blind faith", "Christian roots", "non-believers sent to test us", etc. I'd be much more interested to hear a reasoned counterargument to the President's statement above. I honestly would. I doubt they're coming though...

    October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • GAW

      Who is Romany? Is that Italian?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • David

      Christians don't live under the 'Old Covenant', but the 'New'. So you arguments from Leviticus, etc. (used in this context) are inaffective. (Besides, I've heard this repeated so many times by other skeptics and atheists, I am wondering if any of them have ever had an original thought of their own).

      October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • dc dc

      Well said. If we handed a church congregation a copy of Greek Mythology and told them, "everything in here is literally true", they'd laugh you out of the room, and yet...

      I have a theory though that at least half of the people sitting in a church service don't actually believe; they go because their family, friends, neighbors, customers, etc expect them to go.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • What IF

      David,

      Oh yeah... and Mormons live under the New New Covenant - for what that's worth!

      (hint: there is not a shred of verified evidence that any divine or supernatural beings "spoke" to humans - EVER)

      October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Jeffrey F

      David, yes it comes from the Old testament, but those statements are still valid when some christians still argue that the earth is only 6000 years old, and that dinosaurs never actually existed, that that evolution thing is a fraud. Not trying to be a hater, just leveling the playing field.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • gera

      I believe the bible is the word of God and everything is literally. What you have to understand is that God is sovereign. However, we are now commended to love even our enemies. It might be hard for you to understand it but it does not matter, it was the way it was. I thank God for sending his son Jesus to die for our sins. God is the same yesterday today and forever. Amen

      October 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • KJC

      I think the issue there is trying to read the bible like a rule book, which it is not. It is an over-arching story of God's redemptive plan for humanity. There are rules, yes, but the main crux of the bible is a *relationship* with God. The bible includes books of many genres and time periods, and taking it literally does not mean abandoning all knowledge of the various genres and intentions. To read the bible "literally" is to read the bible as the authors of a given book or letter intended it when it was written. It does not mean looking at every single word and applying it to every single context. For example, entire books of the bible are poetry. To read poetry as poetry is not intellectually dishonest or not reading it "literally" – it's how adults read things. Yet other books are clearly not just metaphor; for example, many are letters written to specific churches to address issues that were going on there. Reading literally means asking what was happening in the church that prompted the letter, and what was the writer literally trying to convey to those people. Then we can ask how does that principle apply now.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Nora

      Does it say in the bible that Christians are to teach the word/work of Christ Jesus and if they accept.. then they do... if they
      do not accept then they don't?
      Who transcribed the word/bible/truth any "Priest or Pedophile's?"

      October 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Zach

      Jeffery, i have never...NOT ONCE heard any Christian deny the existence of dinasours or claim that the earth is only 6000 years old. In fact if you actually read the olkd testiment and specifially Genesis, you will find that sciences account of how the earth was formed and how the animals evolved follows the sequence exactly. The problem people have is the terms "days". Well, that is simply a perception issue. Time is a hman discovery and is used for us to make sense of out every day lives. It is in no way a account of how God see things.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  15. Kingofthenet

    So President Obama's version of Christianity is 'different', but Willard's is OK? Holy Book of Abraham Batman...

    October 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  16. vtguy

    Sounds like our fearless leader wants to start his own church and write the Bible according to Obambam. What a loser. After November, he will revert to his old religion with reverend "I hate whites" toss a few bones in a bowl, and try to predict his next career.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • visitor

      is that what you are hearing?

      You are hearing voices. Get that checked.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  17. Josh

    For a man that claims to be a Christian he sure has a ton of beliefs that do not align with the Bible– gay marriage being one of them

    October 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Greg C.

      I refuse to read the article based on the premise of the subject line and especially given divisive nature of how CNN is/has been conducting itself as the so-called purveyor of truth especially int he field of religion which it knows nothing about but instead, chooses to try to sway readers' opinions based on a very secularist or antagonistic approach. I am not an Obama supporter but I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate the connotation to being an equal to Jesus Christ nor do I think the relevance Mitt's Mormon faith, Obama's Islamic or Christian affiliations matter. What matters is their job performance on issues that matter today; the economy and foreign policy are top of the heap; social issues are last on my list.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  18. jimmy Bivins

    I know President Obama has faith is Christ, because; he has faced so much racism and hate more than any president in the history of the United States. You see, we need to stop the hate and look towards love and compassion. Look at how the country has been divided, and look at how the world is changing. Can't you see it!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Josh

      Obama is the one dividing it. Its not racism that makes people not like him its terrible policies.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • vtguy

      You are so full oc C+R+A+P.... after November, he will go back to the church with revrend "I HATE WHITES", toss a few bones in a bowl and try to find out what he will do next for a living.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Good job proving the point there Ace...Put bones in a bowl...No racism. Nope. None at all.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Patrick Portland

      Stop smoking the pot hippy & humming Kumbaya...what a yutz...it's people like you that I've gotten us to where were today – not a good place I might add.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  19. Name*Ellis

    The Christian Church is a mixture of Good versus Evil when in fact life is a harmonious blend of all things as a unified whole good. So we see the source of Church blasphamy when the official church called a natural good evil and vice versa

    October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Ruben Gonzales

    Here is the Gospel according to Romany… Mormonism shares some beliefs with traditional Christianity, its main teachings depart from biblical truth. For example, Mormonism rejects the idea of a Triune God. Why? Because LDS theology says Jesus was a created being, the result of a “heavenly father” and a “heavenly mother.” In addition, Mormon doctrine says that God has a physical body and was a man like anyone else at one time. Further, the Mormon Church teaches eternal progression, through which a man can himself become a god, be “sealed” to a wife (or wives) in a “celestial marriage,” and produce spirit children to populate another planet. Mormonism is fundamentally a system of multiple gods, not a single, Triune God as held in biblical Christianity.

    Salvation is also much different in Mormon teachings. The Bible presents salvation as a free gift of God obtained by grace through faith. Human works do not contribute to our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Mormon salvation includes both faith and a series of works. Eternal security (the belief that a person cannot lose his or her salvation) is rejected, since Mormon salvation is based in large part on acts of obedience after an initial faith experience.

    Mormons also view Scripture differently. Mormons accept the Bible as inspired (particularly the King James Version), yet they also claim that The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, along with other writings from early Mormonism such as The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants. These books redefine or contradict key biblical doctrines yet are considered authoritative by Mormons.

    Finally, Mormonism teaches a view of heaven that differs from what the Bible presents. According to LDS theology, three eternal options exist: the celestial, telestial, and terrestrial kingdoms. Two are based on good works, with the top level (the celestial kingdom) reserved for the most faithful Mormons.

    Despite the Mormon Church’s rapid growth and influential members, its beliefs are incompatible with historic biblical teaching. As we have seen, Mormonism’s core beliefs are far afield of the orthodox Christian faith. The Mormon error affects their view of God, Jesus, salvation, Scripture, and the afterlife.
    ( Got Question )

    October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Larry

      Your description of Mormonism is mostly accurate. I would add that Mormons believe in the Bible as far as it is translated correctly. That is a key point that can be discussed but not within the limited pages of this forum. The Mormon belief centers around Jesus Christ and his teachings.

      A fundamental component you fail to point out about the Mormon church is that they believe that God still communicates with man through a prophet. It is this communication with a prophet that has helped the Mormon church clarify the errors in translation of the Bible through writings in the Doctrine of Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon is simply a second witness to the teaching of Jesus Christ in the Bible.

      God the Father and Jesus Christ loves each and everyone of us and has provided resources to help each of us reach salvation and return unto him. God is not dead, Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer, and advocate when we are brought before our God to be judged not for how often we prayed to be removed from poverty, to forgive us for our sins, or help us become more wealthy but rather what did we do ourselves to learn from his teachings on how to overcome these trials and the desire in our hearts to do so. Then is when God through the spirit of the Holy Ghost provides the help and answers to those prayers.

      I know without a doubt that these things are true and that obedience to God's laws all blessings we receive in this life are predicated.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:49 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.