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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. Tom Tom the Fvcktard Faqqot

    I love butthole penetration.

    October 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Dippy

      But how do you breathe?

      October 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It always makes my day when I see that I've thoroughly irritated some poor little kid here. It's so satisfying! Plus, it's calorie-negative!

      October 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven,

    October 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The only thing that's been proven is that you're a mindless worm.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • The Vanilla Snake

      Another dreadful abotion of a comment from Captain Fvcktard aka Tom Tom the Piper Son. Why doesn't this idiot go shove it?

      October 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Dippy

      Abotion? Is that some new word??

      October 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's nothing compared to his earlier version: abortation!

      Don't you love it when the morons hoist themselves on their own retard?!

      October 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Whatsamatter Snakey Jakey? DId I hand you your azz somewhere along the line? Did I leave a mark? If not, what's your problem? Don't like free speech, dear? Poor you. Move.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Dippy

      Any word above two syllables will usually throw them. They often have trouble with one- or two-syllable words.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, Dippy. There's one little herbie whose rocks I got in a vise and he's just mad as a wet hen with herpes. He posts here under a plethora of monikers, and is quite obvious (because he's basically illiterate and dumb as a gerbil).

      October 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  3. robnbc

    Progressive Christianity is alive and well.

    October 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Athy

      What is "Progressive Christianity"? Sounds oxymoronic.

      October 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @robnbc,

      According to the article: "Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission ... 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.”"

      Sounds nice. Probably has his American Taliban membership card too.

      The problem here is an old one. Christians never agree on what const;tutes Christianity.

      By the way, I much prefer 'progressive' Christians to the evangelical born-againers.

      October 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  4. End Religion

    October 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  5. MrG at FPC

    While I regret this kind of insensitive (and offensive) rhetoric, I would have to assume that most conservative Christians will be much more comfortable with a devout Mormon in the White House than with a progressive/liberal Christian who favors "collective salvation" and social justice above personal redemption and repentance. It's really no more complicated than that. I daresay that most African-American Christians do not share Mr. Obama's progressive religious views. We are still, at least for the present, people who are free to hold whatever beliefs we choose.

    October 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  6. Salero21

    mmm... If I vote at all, I think I may vote for BO, otherwise I'll go fishing in my boat. Voting is NOT a Commandment from Heaven.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Veritas

      No but it does help set the country's direction and not only for the next 4 years. You can go fishing any day in season, you only get to vote for our president once every 4 years. Or you could get a postal vote or take advantage of early voting if available.

      October 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  7. biobraine

    Some people want a crutch to get through the harsh reality of life in an uncaring universe. Arguing for them not to believe in something that they've been taught to be true since they could speak is a futile effort. You will not win an arguement with an ignorant man. Realize that most religious people have invested a lot of time and energy into their beliefs. Most will never know the happiness that can result from admiting that they don't know and neither does anyone else. Religion is dying out all on its own. Life your life, be happy, and let the ignorant be.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Athy

      Agreed. But it's still a lot of fun to ridicule them, isn't it?

      October 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • loki

      If only the ignorant would let us be..
      Like not trying to push creationism in public schools or pull down the church/state division.

      October 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  8. Reality

    Summarizing with a prayer after 8000+ comments:

    Only for the new members:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    October 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Looks like adolescent overconfidence to me. Heck of a place to be stuck in.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Reality

      resurrection con

      October 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      October 24, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Reality

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      October 24, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  9. Salero21

    The article's name has been change; I wonder why?

    October 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Salero21

    mmm.....

    October 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  11. whodatperson

    TC... what is a Christian?

    October 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • TC

      A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus is their God and savior, and they choose to follow the two great commandments.

      At least, that should be the definition.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      A christian is someone who plays a game by rules so vague that he needs an atheist to explain them to him.

      October 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • nope

      @end...
      nope

      October 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Cracks me up to see what a slave "nope" is.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  12. Anybody know how to read?

    It's too late for americult. The Obsessive Progressives have already morphed Unca Suga into the Diverse Beast. You remember the Lion, the Bear, the Leopard, and the Diverse Beast? Limeys, Ruskies, Nazis, and the grand finality, the unity through diversity, Uncle Sam. He's quite a god with his fingers in every aspect of existence.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      It's 2012 so why don't you act like it? You sound like you should be in an underground air shelter back int the 50's. Go away!

      October 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      The bully spirits live! err, exist.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • ME II

      "You remember the Lion, the Bear, the Leopard, and the Diverse Beast? Limeys, Ruskies, Nazis, and the grand finality, the unity through diversity, Uncle Sam."

      No, actually. When were the Nazis associated with leopards?

      October 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Just a fer instance:Name of their tanks. (Melanistic leopards are commonly called black panthers,)

      October 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • ME II

      @Anybody know how to read?
      Really? One model of tanks called "Panther" is the basis for Bible prophecy on "leopards"? What about the the two models called "Tiger" or the four models called simply "Panzer"?
      Heck, what about the national/party symbol of an eagle, or "Iron Eagle"?

      October 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little Nobody who can't read. It's sad that your sort are becoming extinct. As opposed to just "stinky."

      October 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  13. TheVocalAtheist

    It is way past the time to move forward with our species. We have allowed this delusion of a God and religions to deter our progress way too long. What, in any way has an imaginary God and religion done for our species? What couldn't have we done without a God or religion? There is no God needed for our species, in fact, this planet would be better-off without this powerful delusion in the guise of goodness for the obvious sake of control. It's not the idea of a God that is the source of evil but it is us, as humans that pervert a thought, an idea, a philosophy or whatever you want to label it, into an ever oppressive pall over the planet. There is no God yet the perverse intolerance and fearful ignorance will promote the goodwill and promised afterlife to the point of self-destruction because none of it exists but people will kill and die for it. It is greed and self-centered power mongers that take pride in providing the masses with lies, blatant lies and they know the fearful will bite into it, giving them the only thing they have, their one and only opportunity to live and think for themselves, free from forced dogma and inhumanity.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      The default for man is to have a god. Your god is carnality, your belly so to speak.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @Anybody

      "The default for man is to have a god." Really? Maybe in your twisted world and that doesn't make it true or real. Think reality there sunshine, reality. I know it will be difficult for you since you don't read anything but the Bible.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      FOR CHRISTIANS:'1Cr 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?' Man is designed as a temple. Don't let the the lost kid you. Somebody is ruling in their temples.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Sunshine? Ya can't just let go of ye olde sun god, can you?

      October 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Daniel Benjamin Smith (dsmith77)

      You are ignorant of history, friend. Christianity is not a blight to be removed, but a virtue to be reclaimed. It was because of Christianity that this nation was founded, that women's suffrage was ended, that slavery was abolished. Do not confuse the fact that the bible mentions these things with others' ideas that in so doing it supports those positions.

      Going further back, it was only the culture of western Europe under the influence of Christianity and it's notions of a single rational God that science as we know it was birthed. Science tried to be born in every great culture previously but always failed. Why? Because every culture prior – Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Indian – was controlled by a dominant religion that invariably described the world as a mashup of multiple deities nitpicking with each other. The greek olympians, the egyptian pharoah cult, the many gods of the Hindu, etc. In a world like that, how could the world itself be knowable? Not until Christianity took hold did it happen.

      You can neither prove nor deny the truth claims of Christianity but I will not sit idly by as you attempt to rewrite history.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Huebert

      Dsmith

      European science could not match the sophistication of the Greeks, or the Romans until about the 1500's. The Renascence, the explosion of learning that began the scientific revolution, was essentially a rediscovery of Greek and Roman philosophy and technology.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Huebert,

      "The Renaissance .... was essentially a rediscovery of Greek and Roman philosophy and technology." ... coupled with what they learned from the Muslims, and what they had learned from Indians.

      Zero is good. Al-Jabra is good. Sorry did I say Al-Jabra, I meant algebra.

      Neil deGrasse Tyson has a nice lecture (youttube) on how Muslim science led the medieval world until the emergence of the philosophies of Al-Ghazali led to the decline of sciences in the Muslim world.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And here it is ...

      Neil De Grass Tyson's warning is that increasing Christian fundamentalism could do the same thing to western sciences that it did to Muslim sciences in the 12th century.

      With all the nonsense around creationism (see US Rep. Paul Broun etc) this warning feels apt.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Huebert

      @GOP

      True, Indian and Arabic learning contributed greatly to the Renascence. Honestly I left those out for brevity's sake, that and I doubted that dsmith would respond. I wish I could watch the video, I'm at work and the company blocks all streaming media, Tyson is one of my favorite speakers.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Heubert,

      it's a interesting premise. De Grasse Tyson talks about the almost total absence of Nobel prizes in science awarded to Muslims, as a measure of contributions to modern science. (Interestingly enough there is a non proportional representation by Jewish, or at least born-Jewish, scientists.) He contrasts this with Muslim contributions to science in the 9th – 12th centuries, noting as an effective example, that star names are Arabic. (Planets of course were Greek – coopted by Roman versions.)

      He (and others) posit that the Muslim world turned it's back on science with the advent of fundamentalism around the 12th century – in the form of Al-Ghazali who (according to wikipedia) embraced a form of theological occasionalism, or the belief that all causal events and interactions are not the product of material conjunctions but rather the immediate and present Will of God. ("It is God's will", "It is written" etc.)

      October 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @Daniel Smith

      Hey friend! You make no sense, just more nonsense. I don't know what history books you're reading, David Barton's maybe?

      October 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Veritas

      Daniel, Suffrage won surely? Doubtless religious people were involved in those commendable movements but there's no way to know if christianity was pivotal. Religion was also behind slavery (based on Genesis 9) and repression of women (most religions do) also early in many states' history was the prohibition of Jews, Catholics, and Quakers to hold office; almost certainly a decision based on religion wouldn't you say?

      October 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      @notGOP: excellent video!

      October 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • TTT

      @GOP

      And without Judaism and Christianity there is no Islam or Muslim religion.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  14. R. T.

    What is a Christian? The whole starting point of this article is based on unbiblical assumptions. The Bible do not classify us into "progressive" or "conservative" Christians at all. Yes, caring for the poor and loving your neighbours are all very important issues, but the first and foremost issue throughout the Bible is God! We need to put God first. Love God with all your heart, all your mind, sou and strength. And then love your neighbours as yourself. Caring for the poor is important, and it will come when we truly know God.

    Also, the Bible doesn't tell us to take over the earthly government and use its power to accomplish what God has asked us to do. So to use the government power to "help the poor" is not a Christian value. God Himself is big enough to take care the poor through HIs church, not through the government.

    The so-called social issues that "conservative" Christians care about that are frowned upon by the progressives are all issues of sin! SIN! The number enemy of human kind! And in shying away from talking about sin, you are not true Christians at all. Because Jesus came to the earth to solve the problem of SIN. Jesus didn't came to solve our poverty or sickness problems. He came to solve our SIN problem, so we can be right with God. When the problem of sin is solved, then all other problems will follow.

    So all the social issues "conservatives" fight about are issues of sin. That's the central point and that is something Christians cannot compromise.

    So the progressives wants to have sinners who are fed and healthy and happy living in their sin. But true Christians wants to have sinners repent and come to know God and then be joyful in Christ, whether they are fed or hungry, healthy or sick, poor or rich.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • TC

      So, you don't want the government to legislate how we care for the poor, but you demand that the government legislate what is and is not a sin, and impose one religious sect's views such subjects over all Americans and their personal lives?

      Who gets to decide which demnomination or religion gets to control the legislating?

      October 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  15. Anybody know how to read?

    It really is quite amazing to see the hate from the atheists. How much more of a corrupt gubmint do you want? Maybe the final solution is suicide but it's not not overtly stated in their party platform. I'm not the type to yell jump, but OTOH you don't have to elect em to lead.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Actually I think you have that wrong in terms of hate. It is more incredulous disbelief that some humans are so intolerant to free thought and critical thinking it can raise a negative emotion. Proof is in abundance of natural truths yet your head turns and your eyes close and you deafen anything that is against what you believe. Do I hate that? Like I said, it's incredulous disbelief that you shut-down our real world and live in something that is so incredibly false it is shameful.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      What's with your obsessiveness? That's not a sign of a healthy mind. 'Phl 3:19 Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.) There's a mention of shame.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Again you get it wrong, delusion is a sign of an unhealthy mind and you are filled with delusion, look it up in the dictionary and then go see a doctor.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Bullies are mentioned in the OT. Remember S&G and its destruction? No thanks on your unionized gubmint doctors.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • mama k

      The OT, Anybody? Surely you mean Gullible's Travels, Part 1.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      "Remember S&G and its destruction?"

      Why of course I do, seems like it was yesterday, NOT!

      What kind of fool would believe such nonsense? Like I said, it is 2012 and the Bible is merely a book of chosen words by men, nothing more then fairly tales.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • End Religion

      hyperbole much?

      October 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Anybody, you sound a bit depressed. Did your mother fail to breast-feed you or were you rejected as a weak-ti t by your father?

      No wonder.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Anyboob says:
      "That's not a sign of a healthy mind." What would a cretin like you know about a mind, healthy or otherwise?

      Laughable boob.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  16. egauci

    >>ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.

    The Pentagon used to include biblical verses in its daily report? Really?

    October 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      It allows you to assure yourself that you're helping, without actually doing anything at all.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • nope

      @ruf...
      nope

      October 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  18. Innerspace is God's Place while outerspace is for the human race.

    Well ain't we special?

    October 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  19. renegade98

    Reblogged this on Oh what now?.

    October 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  20. OMAYRA

    THERE IS NO GOSPEL ACCORDING TO OBAMA. HE IS A MUSLIM. MR. BLAKE YOUR SO DECEIVED....SEARCH FOR TRUTH ACCORDING TO THE TRUE GOSPEL AND NOT FROM A MERE MAN.

    October 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • TC

      Except, of course, he is a Christian. At least stick to the facts.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      Of course, the gospel was written by "mere men", but that won't slow down the truly deluded

      October 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Dippy

      OMAYRA: please turn off your fucking caps, it looks very childish. And it's "you're", not "your". You write like a child. No one takes what you say seriously.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • whodatperson

      Dippy. you miht b able 2 rite, bt U sur b nasty.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • whodatperson

      Sam... remember, you are but a mere man. So, when you come up with a book written by dozens of men, over thousands of years that is as true as the bible, then you might have something. At this point, there isn't, so I suggest you read and heed it.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Smithsonian

      " over thousands of years that is as true as the bible, then you might have something. "

      The stories found in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1-12, such as the flood story, the record is quite different: the time period under consideration is much more ancient. The factual bases of the stories are hidden from our view archaeologically. The stories remain a part of folk traditions and were included in the Bible to illustrate and explain theological ideas such as: Where did humans come from? If humans were created by God (who is perfect and good), how did evil among them come to be? If we are all related as children of God, why do we speak different languages? It must be remembered that the Bible is primarily a book of religion, a guide to faith. it was not a book of history, poetry, economics, or science. It contains all sorts of literary genre, which are used to teach about the relationship between God and mankind. Even biblical history is edited history: events were chosen to illustrate the central theme of the Bible. The Biblical writers did not pretend they were giving a complete history; instead they constantly refer us to other sources for full historical details, sources such as "The Annals of the Kings of Judah" (or Israel).

      It is therefore not possible to try to "prove" the Bible by means of checking its historical or scientific accuracy. The only "proof" to which it can be subjected is this: Does it correctly portray the God-human relationship? In the best analysis, the Bible is a religious book, not an historical document.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • whodatperson

      TC. What is a Christian?

      October 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " included in the Bible to illustrate and explain theological ideas such as: Where did humans come from?"

      Except, of course, that these scientifically ignorant nomadic bronze-age shepherds simply made these stories up to explain things they had no ability to understand.

      Otherwise, these ignorant shepherds, er – your god – would have written that humans came from earlier hominids 200,000 years ago.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • whodatperson

      Smithsonian.... while I agree with parts of what you've stated such as: the bible is MOSTLY a book on God and human relationship, I would disagree with you as to whether it's a 'good' book on the other issues. All of those genre's are in the bible for all to see. If you read it then you know.

      The bible actually explains quite a bit through archeology. In fact, archeology backs up biblical 'history' as I'm quite sure you know as well.

      Science is observation in the present. It takes what it sees and works it. It has no real power to figure when the earth was created. Can it take a guess? Sure, but let's face it. What's the age of the earth? 2, 3, 4, 8 billion years? Seems like a pretty wide range if you ask me. Maybe not for you, but that's like saying I'm LeBron James! lol

      Like the nightly weather girl telling me she can predict the weather. Happened 3 x's last week. Was supposed to be x and it was y. Scientist's are so good that in Italy they're being sued for not being able to predict the next earthquake apparently.

      Yet, we're to believe they can predict the beginning of the world?

      Carbon dating has plenty of problems as we all know as well. False readings aren't anything to sneeze at.

      In reality, the flood story is truly the one that makes the most sense! It doesn't fit into the 'reality' of scientist's, but then again, the bible says that the foolish will be the smart and the smart foolish. Doesn't mean you throw everything out, that science isn't real and we should just stop trying to figure out DNA, etc...

      It's that there's not another natural cataclysmic event that comes close to explaining it.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • whodatperson

      Prime... where did they come from?

      October 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      @whodatperson: "In fact, archeology backs up biblical 'history' as I'm quite sure you know as well."

      Spiderman lives in New York. Should America be abandoned for 2000 years we would have archeological evidence for the existence of New York. Does this make real the "history" written in the Spiderman comic books?

      ***
      "Science is observation in the present. It takes what it sees and works it. It has no real power to figure when the earth was created. Can it take a guess? Sure, but let's face it. What's the age of the earth? 2, 3, 4, 8 billion years?"

      The primary function of science is to demonstrate the existence of phenomena that cannot be observed directly. Science is not needed to show us things we can see with our own eyes. Direct observation is not only unnecessary in science; direct observation is in fact usually impossible for the things that really matter. In fact, the most important discoveries of science have only be inferred via indirect observation. Familiar examples of unobservable scientific discoveries are atoms, electrons, viruses, bacteria, germs, radio-waves, X-rays, ultraviolet light, energy, entropy, enthalpy, solar fusion, genes, protein enzymes, and the DNA double-helix. The round earth was not observed directly by humans until 1961, yet this counterintuitive concept had been considered a scientific fact for over 2000 years. The Copernican hypothesis that the earth orbits the sun has been acknowledged virtually ever since the time of Galileo, even though no one has ever observed the process to this day. All of these "invisible" phenomena were elucidated using the scientific method of inference.

      ***
      "Yet, we're to believe they can predict the beginning of the world?"

      There's no prediction. We have overwhelming scientific evidence for how the world began. You choose to ignore it.

      ***
      "Carbon dating has plenty of problems as we all know as well. False readings aren't anything to sneeze at."

      Radiocarbon dating has been repeatedly tested, demonstrating its accuracy. It is calibrated by tree-ring data, which gives a nearly exact calendar for more than 11,000 years back. It has also been tested on items for which the age is known through historical records, such as parts of the Dead Sea scrolls and some wood from an Egyptian tomb (MNSU n.d.; Watson 2001). Multiple samples from a single object have been dated independently, yielding consistent results. Radiocarbon dating is also concordant with other dating techniques (e.g., Bard et al. 1990).

      ***
      "In reality, the flood story is truly the one that makes the most sense!"

      What you said, but exact opposite. This could be the biblical story with the tallest mountain of evidence against it. Spend a few days reading it all, or ignore as usual: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

      ***
      "It doesn't fit into the 'reality' of scientist's, but then again, the bible says that the foolish will be the smart and the smart foolish."

      Religions want you to stay ignorant otherwise the house of cards falls.

      ***
      "Doesn't mean you throw everything out, that science isn't real and we should just stop trying to figure out DNA, etc... It's that there's not another natural cataclysmic event that comes close to explaining it."

      You simply don't want to know the evidence because it shatters your magical worldview. Why would anyone think we should rely on science for DNA evidence but not to refute the obvious flood scam? Your insanity is showing...

      October 23, 2012 at 9:38 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.