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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. Jannae

    Romney supporters:

    - earn over $250,000
    - Christian-right
    - Rednecks who don't know any better
    - not paying attention (ignorant)
    - Mormon church cult

    October 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      And Catholics. That is why CNN is so worried.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Obama Supporters:

      Idiots. (Period)

      October 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Atheist Hunter=piano without all its keys

      October 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      AH = inbred mother mounting C word

      October 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • mama k

      Atheist Hunter – you should find something useful to do or say. You know , something with some substance – empty words are just that.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  2. Bill D.

    If you really want to learn about Obama and his religion, just go to Wikipedia and search "Jeremiah Wright"

    Birds of a feather flock together.....

    October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  3. Jannae

    If Romney gets in office, just remember the saying my history teacher taught us..."The Asses In The Masses"...that's the only way he'll get in there...

    October 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • mkilmon

      so if you are such a huge obama fan, please explain how growth of government, incrase in taxes and dramatic spending at the federal level will increase jobs and motivate the economy. Please, I would love to hear this one. Our choice is simply, a president who wants to 1) increase you taxes and what everyone to pay "more" – coded as "fair share", 2) considers the poor decisions of one person to be paid for by others (everything from health care to welfare to immigration) and 3) has repeatedly lied to the american people (i.e. benghazi). Or a president who has actually been in a business before, successfully increased the local econonmy, hired employees to actually work on something and also had a successful elected office under their belt. hmmmm, hard decision eh.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Thats the problem mkilmon. People like you believe that those that get welfare are all to blame, its all their own fault for some supposed failed choice they made. There isnt a problem with lack of jobs, they are all just lazy, right?
      And tell me where Obama said everyone is to pay more taxes?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  4. Jannae

    Romney should be a disgrace to the Mormon Church with all the lies he has told. How can we elect a President that will lie to us? If he's lying in these debates and on the campaign trail, he will lie to us the entire time he's in office. Just remember his nick-name...Romnocchio!!

    October 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Where were you 4 years ago when Obama was telling America he could increase spending, reduce taxes, and still balance the budget. I guess your moral compass just got shipped to you huh?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Bill D.

      Obama 2008: "I will have Gitmo closed in 18 months if elected" (lie)

      Obama 2008: "I will have our troops out of Afghanistan in 12 months if elected" (lie)

      Obama 2008: "If I cant get this economy (he pronouced it "oconoma") then I don't deserve to be reelected" (truth)

      October 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      i know he said he would remove troops from iraq in 16 months (actually took 32) but when did he say he would leave afghanistan in 12 months?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Michael Compton

      You are a liar, Bill. A liar.

      Republicans BLOCKED the closing of Gitmo and the trial of it's prisoners. You want to score political points by blocking the action to begin with, then score more by blaming the President for what Republicans did? Shameful.

      President Obama DID make a statement similar to that, but he has gotten NOTHING but obstructionism from the Republican House. The very first thing the Republican Leadership did was announce that their highest priority was obstructing the initiatives of President Obama. "make him a one term president"..

      The Republicans prioritized their politics; not their country.

      * years of Republican "leadership" BROUGHT OUR ECONOMY TO THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE. Because it's taking longer than 4 years to make a full recovery you want to let them do it again?? Crazy.

      Mitt Romney said he wanted to "LET DETROIT DIE", along the millions of associated jobs. THAT'S what you advocate??

      President Obama bet on the American Worker, and now those jobs are safe and the money was long ago repaid.

      THAT'S a President.

      Obama never said they would be out in 12 months. That is a lie. He said they would be out of Iraq, and that's exactly what happened.

      Romney said it 'wasn't worth the money' to get Bin Laden. President Obama cared more about JUSTICE than MONEY and now the soandso is cold in the ground.

      But... Keep on lying, Bill. Personal integrity isn't for everyone.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  5. Josh

    Socialist...duh!!
    :D

    October 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Jannae

    Michael – CNN should be ashamed to be suddenly leaning more and more to the "right" with their articles and their tv news channel. It's become more and more apparent as time goes by and as this election draws near. I urge you to go to MSNBC to get your news. You will be very enlightened. I'm sure this will get the "oust" as well...

    October 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      lol! MSNBC is known as the craziest news source out there. They are always last in ratings and are completely extremely left. Certainly go there please! If you are dumb enough to think CNN (that employs gays in 50% of their guest seats) is a right winged news media, you deserve MSNBC. Better anyways, since the demise of MSNBC will cause CNN to shift farther left.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • mkilmon

      Grow up, get a grip. People keep posting that this country should not have any religious ties. Well, the leaders in our government, those elected to this post, are elected as representatives of the people. If the people are predominantly Christian then the leaders must consider Christian beliefs in their actions as a leader and the legislation passed. That does not mean Christianity would dominate over all others, but last time i checked we were a democratic sociaty and it used to be that majority rules. Now, a disgruntled troll of human being that complains about their rights being trampled when someone else pronounces their faith get laws put in place to support their enormously bias, self-centered and self-serving agenda.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Veritas

      GC. MSNBC may be on the left, but Fox is on the right. CNN is pretty much centrist but the GOP attack it presumably because it is left of their position.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Michael Compton

      Fox is hard-right

      CNN is center right.

      MSNBC is center left, except when one of it's right-wing hosts is on (like Scarborough). Fox has NO balance of that nature.

      Another difference – MSNBC clearly labels it's left-leaning shows as OPINION shows. Fox and CNN push their hard-right and center-right editorial positions as 'unbiased'.

      It is laughably absurd to suggest that a giant for-profit corporation like GE (which owns NBC) is 'socialist' or even 'left wing'.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Beauty

      Stop talking you are just too stupid. Go get your welfare and free phone and shut up

      October 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Well, the leaders in our government, those elected to this post, are elected as representatives of the people. If the people are predominantly Christian then the leaders must consider Christian beliefs in their actions as a leader and the legislation passed. That does not mean Christianity would dominate over all others, but last time i checked we were a democratic sociaty and it used to be that majority rules"

      what a bizarre argument. The very nature of the republic that the US is means very specifically that the majority doesnt rule.
      And there is no place for considering the religious beliefs of people when it comes to legislation.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  7. Michael

    Well, I've tried 3 times to post a comment critical to this CNN article and 3 times CNN has censored it as it probably will censor this as well. Of course, if they do, no one will see this either.

    October 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      i would suggest its the words you are using then.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  8. Jannae

    Carol Fairweather and kudos to all Canadians who support Obama! I only wish you could vote in this election for Obama!

    You are so right in your observation that the American Republicans just want a black man out of the White House. Shame on all of you, and you know who you are...the rest of the world knows what a great leader Barack Obama is. He has gained so much respect from other countries...something George Bush lost for us. We can hold our heads up high with Obama as our President. Romney as President would be as big of a joke as it was having Arnold Schwarzanegger as Governor of California! Wake up people!

    October 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Obama is the best thing to happen to the Canadian economy in decades.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      You are the racist! People in America dont like him because he is extremely left and the country is moderately right. If the rest of the world likes him, let him go run for their presidency!!!!!

      October 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Veritas

      John. Explain why. As far as I know the Canadian economy did not have a financial meltdown was because they did not allow the deregulation that led to the USA financial meltdown but Obama had nothing to do with the Canadian lack of meltdown or the USA meltdown.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Veritas

      GC. Obviously you don't like Obama but he was elected in 2008 and is 50-50 for 2012. So your comments are not correct.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  9. PL

    If Rev Wright's churh was the only source of his Christian belief, you have to wonder how sound is his Biblical theological foundation. I wonder what books on Theology and Christian core belief he has read to shape his Christian faith, a question any interviewer could have asked but have avoided, unlike what Katie Couric had done with Palin about her reading materials.

    October 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  10. Michael Compton

    Mitt Romney is NOT a CHRISTIAN. How about an article about that, Time Magazine. Same reason there was no Saddleback Church town hall this year... No one wants people to learn what Mormanism is all about!

    He does NOT believe in the Christian understanding of Christ the Savior. He does NOT believe in the Holy Trinity. He is NOT A CHRISTIAN AT ALL.

    He is a man that has gotten rich by shipping American jobs to China. Repeatedly. This isn't some tactic from his distant past, he does it ALL THE TIME. Texas Instruments (now Sensata) made record profits last year, but... Not enough for Mitt.... STILL going to ship the plant to China next year, along with another 170+ American jobs.

    He wants to privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare. Vouchers??? Try being 66 years old and taking your 'vouchers' to an insurance company.... Think now that they're free to do as they like you'll get better coverage than Medicare? If so, you need to do some very basic research.

    During the first debate, he said he would keep the prohibition on banning people for pre-existing conditions. A few hours later, his campaign "corrected" Romney and said his position was actually the opposite. What, he forgot his position? No, he lied, and he lied because he knew more people would hear the lie than would hear the correction. The man is a LIAR.

    He lied in the second debate about the "binders". HE didn't notice a problem and ask for qualified women, the women did. The binders were created BEFORE the election that year, and were given to the winner. During the debate, he directly lied saying HE had them assembled. That's a direct lie. I know it's not a life or death issue, but how can people support a man that just told them a bald-faced lie??

    He hides his money in offshore accounts in order to hide from paying the taxes that you and I pay. He has created on of the most complicated tax avoidance schemes in American history in order to avoid paying his share to the country that made all his success possible!

    He is AGAINST equal pay for equal work, as is his Vice Presidential running mate. Opposed. Like men to be paid more for the same work, or he doesn't really care, and just likes getting cheap labor. Either way it's disgusting.

    The man has changed nearly every one of his positions at LEAST once during this campaign. C'mon.... That is CLEAR evidence of a total lack of character. He'll say anything, do anything... Whatever it takes to get what Mitt wants. Just like in his business life.

    Watch the 'secret' fundraising video for yourselves. The '47% of the country are lazy and irresponsible' crack was the LEAST of it. You get the REAL Mitt Romney when you see the rest.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Are you an Obama lackey? Obama also lied in the debates, calling the halting of kicking out illegals a "path to citizenship"when it offers them ZERO citizenship, it is only a delay tactic.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Michael Compton

      That is patently false. Obama supports the DREAM Act and Latinos support him by an unprecedented margin. President Obama leads Romney in the Latino vote by more than 40% last I heard (which was about a week ago).

      Additionally, Romney directly refers to Latinos as "illegals", and opposes nearly EVERY piece of legislation or planned legislation for which American Latinos express support.

      What your doing is promoting dishonest disinformation, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

      I notice too you had NOTHING to say about the DIRECT LIES Romney told during the debates.

      I barely scratched the surface of them. Put 'Romney debate lie' into a search engine, and do the same with Obama. Anywhere but straight partisan right wing sites will give you the REAL story on who has such little respect for the American People that they will lie right to their faces.

      Other Romney lies? He told people that Obama "ended the welfare-to-work' requirement. A direct Romney lie from his own mouth, and he said it again and again.

      He said President Obama's Medicare reform would remove "more than 700 billion dollar from Medicare citizen services". A direct Romney lie, and he said it over and over again.

      Paul 'Lyin Ryan' got caught telling I don't even KNOW how many lies during his convention speech.

      This isn't a partisan question. Lies are lies and the record is right there for anyone to research.

      I'm PROUD of my candidates record with the truth; any Republican that says the same simply doesn't care about the record. Or the objective truth.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Cheese

      I've learned over a long period that ANYONE using the following words repeatedly cannot be trusted with stating facts:

      "patently"
      "disinformation"
      "lies"

      Any of these words, especially if accentuated with CAPS is a certain giveaway to the, at best wobbly argument the commenter is attempting to cram down your throat hole.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  11. Rapid

    So I guess among all this discussion of the Protestant urban Social Gospel churches, it's not relevant to mention that the Catholic Church (despite its many sins) has always been an advocate of this "Social Gospel" feed-the-poor idea? Last I checked, Catholics were Christians. I thought this article was a very interesting take on modern Christianity, but it kind of neglected a large denomination that is heavily involved in social issues. That just seemed strange to me and made the discussion seem incomplete.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The Democratic Party is losing the Catholics to romney, just as Catholics were Romney's largest christian voting block in the Republican Primary. What the left (CNN) is hoping to do is reverse that trend. The Voters who rejected Romney in the Republican Primary will not likely vote for Obama and so the Catholic vote is decisive.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Veritas

      John, the difference from the primaries is that the majority of Latino catholics are likely to vote for Obama.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Veritas-Latino Catholics who vote are likely to be reliable cuban Republicans. Latinos tend to vote their own pocket books and theb Obama economy has created the largest self deportation in US history.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  12. Josh

    The ones who have been misinformed (but mostly uneducated), will be the ones with the worst opposition. For instance, most people would equate Obama with Hitler. Why is this? Because he is a socially aware president, his agenda is therefore of a socialist. Socialists believe in Marxism. Hitler was a Marxist. Therefor President Obama is...!!! OMG

    This is simply not the case. Marxism does not preach or teach what Hitler practiced. Just as Jesus did not preach or teach what the so-called Christians of the Crusades practiced. Fact.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Perry

      Based on his actions and statements, would Jesus be a capitalist or a socialist?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  13. Perry

    Four years ago they said he was un-American because he didn't wear a flag pin on his lapel. Now they say he is un-Christian because he doesn't worship like a white fundamentalist Christian. Have you noticed that there are still very few blacks in "white" churches in 2012? Do you think blacks don't come to white churchs because the accidentally drive past, or do you think it is something that we do or have done that makes them feel unwelcome?

    October 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Chair Weight

      you idiot. IF you don't profess Christ, you're not a Christian.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      The criticism of Obama goes years back. Everything he says about Christianity makes a Christian suspect he is paying lip service. Most church-goers think if he is a Christian, he is a very new one.

      Now, blacks and whites usually segregate THEMSELVES because they have different worship styles. I still see whites in black churches and I go to a majority white church with at least 6 black families (and other minority groups). People like the way they like, and it isn't wrong to have different styles.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Chair Weight

      Blacks don't come to "white" churches because most blacks are raging racists. They make no apologies either, just justify it.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • OneTruth

      GC. What would be examples of lip service?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Michael Compton

      Plus, the Christian hard right are playing politics with God.

      Until this past month, Billy Graham's website listed Mormonism as a CULT – NOT a so-called "branch" of Christianity. Mitt met with Graham, and ... Presto! Website altered to protect Mitt's political efforts.

      That's not Godly or religions – That's naked partisanship. Playing politics with God.

      For the record, Graham WAS right. Mormons do not believe in traditional Christian knowledge of Jesus Christ. The do not believe in the Holy Trinity. The reject the Apostle's Creed.

      Mormons are NOT CHRISTIANS.

      Mormonism rejects Christian orthodoxy as the very argument for its own existence

      They attack Obama for invented projections about his faith, while IGNORING Romney's membership in a cult.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  14. LamaLad

    Religion poisons everything, who cares what that moron Rev. Gary Cass thinks of President Obama. "GOD protect us from your followers"

    October 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  15. nonBelieverOne

    It's sad how many Americans believe that a Muslim could not act in the best interest of our country. Talk about bigotry. By the way, I take Obama at his word, which shows me that he has more Christ-like and true American values than most Americans... equal rights for all and true concern for his fellow man. Conservatives today back the rich over the poor and favor the right of one person to shoot another for totally subjective, materialistic reasons.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Ryan

      Equal rights for all? Really? How come, then, are Christians not allowed to have nativity scenes in front of courthouses without some anti-religious group coming in threating to sue and the government supports that? How come a majority of the white people I know who are on welfare get less benefits that those who are Black?

      October 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Perry

      Actually, courthouses can't display any other religious devices. It is not just the Christian displays.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Equal rights for all? Really? How come, then, are Christians not allowed to have nativity scenes in front of courthouses without some anti-religious group coming in threating to sue and the government supports that? "

      er, are you really trying to claim that putting just christian displays outside courthouses is equal rights for all?
      are you for real?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • nonBelieverOne

      Ryan, most blacks live in urban areas where the cost of living is higher. Those benefits programs are based on formulas that are based on factors such as the cost of living in areas. Regardless of these facts: 1) you should do your research and not rely on misinformation; 2) my point was about Obama... are you inferring that the supposed disparity in benefits amounts is his fault? 3) States' non-endorsement of any religion is not an attack on Christianity... are you inferring that statute is Obama's doing?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  16. nObama

    Is it God's House or Obama's house or is Obama saying he is God? For a President who has signed 923 Executive Orders, not soluted the US flag, taken the flag off Air Force One, met with the Communists and Muslim leaders more than any other group, endorsed gay marriage, is for abortion, allows legislation to continue to restrict prayer at events, schools, and other places... I just don't see Obama has a Christian's best interest in mind. In other words, he's not really playing for our team.

    This just says it all...
    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.”

    October 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • nonBelieverOne

      Obama was saying that he too is welcome in God's house, and that he had the right to stand there with Senator Brownback as a Believer.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • LamaLad

      You are a religious moron...Hope you can meet your creator ASAP!

      October 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • D

      Your post is nonsense. Obama took the flag of Air Force One? Really? Are you nuts?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • snowboarder

      nob – you actually fell for that "no flag on airforce one" lie.

      what a fool.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "As of Aug. 10, 2012, Barack Obama had signed 135 executive orders since taking office, far fewer than the 923 claimed and by no means the largest number signed by any U.S. president.

      Likewise, the totals attributed to previous presidents appear to have been invented out of whole cloth. G.W. Bush signed 291 executive orders during his eight-year term of office, not 62 as claimed. Ronald Reagan signed 381. It was Franklin D. Roosevelt, not Barack Obama, who signed the most executive orders of any president, amassing a total of 3,522 in 12 years (figures courtesy of the American Presidency Project)."

      so many people keep calling obama a liar but they keep spouting their own.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  17. Annie

    Personally, I will not vote for a candidate based on his religion, but the way Christianity is portrayed in this article saddens me. Sure, there are some Christians that care more about defending a 6-day literal creation than taking care of the poor (it seems Cass is one of these), and there are also Christians that do not take much of the Bible literally. But there are also so many Christians that fall in between somewhere. While believing that the Bible is God's Word, that Jesus truly is the Son of God, and that Jesus literally died and rose again, you can also believe that Jesus spent most of His time caring for the sick, the poor, and the hungry and commanded his followers to do the same. This is what fuels my work with the homeless and poor in my community.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Most Christians would agree with you. They just don;t think the govt of the US should be mandating it.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  18. Andy

    "Easy on the zeal Churchos… I've got something to say. Don't you get it? It's all Christianity, people! The little stupid differences are nothing next to the big stupid similarities!"

    Bart, The Simpsons

    October 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • kenny

      why you little... nailed it...

      October 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  19. radicalsalt

    The moment right wing Christian "leadership" embraced the once reviled, decidedly un-Trinitarian, Latter Day Saints for political expediency, they ceded any moral authority they might have had to dictate who is and is not a "true" Christian.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Right wing leadership? What does that mean? Political? Religious? The Protestant church has never recognized the Mormon church as being instructive, always a cult.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Scott

      The ... gasp ... rightwingers are just picking the lesser of two evils. That does NOT mean that Christians approve of Mormonism. It's that in this case the Mormon is less bad that the Chitcago/Lawyer/Politician.

      Scott

      October 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Kevo

      The polytheist is an ally and possess a Christian world view though he hold heretical doctrines of worship. He just might make a great president. However the trampling of God's commands by BO rules out calling him a Christian. We have a polytheist verses an atheist or Muslim, can quite figure him out. However his touted care for the poor is sticking his hands in anothers pockets rather than his own. What does he get in return? Votes. Nothing Christian here. BO is trampling the 10 commandments by coveting and stealing. Jesus condemned redistribution in Mat 15 based upon another of the 10, honor mom and dad. Read it.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • hmmm.....

      To bad the Prodestant Church isn't Christ like. What gives them the power to say who is Christian and who is a cult? I think no one should vote on religion or lack there of – just if the person can do the job.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The biggest fear of the cross burners is that black seed planted in a comfortable white nest. The old southern democrats children can not vote for Obama.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  20. cathy

    The min someone questions another persons faith they have proved themselves to un Christian.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jenny

      You really should read your Bible more. I love the Bible, have read it cover to cover, and I'm not ashamed to report that a good portion of it is dedicated to helping believers discern who is and is not a Christian. Please read the parable of the wheat and the tares for starters, Matt 13:24-30, as well as the Book of 1 John. Judas was a fraud, and the fact that Jesus knew it didn't make Him a sinner.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • hmmm.....

      Jenny -

      I thought you were to love everyone. You do a dis-service to Christians by judging others.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Please read the parable of the wheat and the tares for starters"

      which deals with the angels sorting out the good and the bad at the time of judgement, and not of ordinary christians judging others as not 'real' christians.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Bill D.

      Jenny –

      If you like reading fiction so much, have you considered Harry Potter?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Perry

      Judge not, lest you be judged.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • visitor

      A good portion of the Bible is devoted to helping Christians decide who is or isn't a Christian?

      Wow, that is news to me. This was important to Jesus...why???

      October 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.