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

The Gospel according to Obama

By John Blake, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some see a 'different' kind of Christian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The origins of Obama’s faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama is not a Christian, some think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.

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

Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.

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

How progressive Christianity lost the public square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Writer

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

soundoff (8,626 Responses)
  1. Milton

    I believe Obama, like most rational people, is a closet atheist but we all know that is political suicide to proclaim publicly.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Reggie from LA

      Spoken like a true fundamentalist. Is he also the Anti-Christ? Should he be rasslin' with snakes in the pulpit and jumpin' with the Holy Ghost each time he addresses the masses? Did he proclaim himself to be a minister? Do many ministers proclaim to be chosen by God himself...to make a buck? Closet atheist. That's that best you can do?

      October 21, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • delmasa

      And Romney is a liar which should be political suicide but I will bet he has your vote. Sheesh

      October 21, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • tomnikoly

      "[Obama] is a closet atheist"

      I sincerely hope so.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Mike

      I think many of us have the same assesment.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • AuntieMEK

      Yes we only want the type of Christians that send our young people into war, increase our military budget, increase our national debt & take money from poor.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • janemutiny

      I believe you are right, and a sincerely hope so.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Sara

      So what if he is an Atheist? I see him behaving more like a true Christian than more self-proclaimed christian. You may want to read Matthew 25 and see what Jesus says about salvation. The only people Jesus said he would cast out into the darkness were those that mistreat the poor and neglect those he told them to care for on earth. A lot of Evangelicals parading around in name only and hating the poor are the very people Jesus said he would dismiss

      October 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • akmac65

      Actually, Milton was complimenting the President by referring to him as "rational" as opposed to the radical so-called "christian" right. There is nothing wrong with Atheism, it certainly is more honest than those who use religion for political gain while ignoring the central values of the religion they profess to follow. No, I do not refer to the President, I am referring to the religious "right". The term hypocrite is surely defined by that group.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Abraham

      Hey Milton, I believe Obama, like most rational and truthful people, is a Christian. But, I know for a fact that Rmoney is lying through his teeth when he says he's a Christian!! I believe Rmoney, like most True Christians, is a priest in the church of latter day Satans (not Jesus Christ)!!

      Mormonism is satanism, plain and simple. It rejects all Christian and doctrine and teaches that Satan is the "Son of God". And this is an outrageous blasphemy that only benefits Satan and evil in general. The Mormon church teaches their followers to be untrustworthy because it say they can "Lie for the Lord". But, given what they teach about Satan, it's clear that who they're actually lying for is not God, but Satan the Great Deceiver!!! God condemns lies, he does NOT condone them!!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Brad

      I agree, I believe there a re a LOT of closet atheists, but they know how many delusional religious folk there are in this country and it is better to pretend to believe for there professional lives. I would have much more respect for anyone that comes out as such.

      October 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  2. Don7Camillo

    Why now? The answer is simple. Most African Americans and hispanics hold conservative religious values and although outwardly due to undue pressure might toe the liberal line, will certainly choose the lesser of the two evils.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Mike

      If my conservative church going Democrat voting Hispanic parents and millions like them ever found out Obama was an atheists he'd lose their vote instantly. Obama knows claiming to be a Christaisn is just good politics.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Abraham

      Then they must join together and reject the Mormon High Priest who teaches that Satan is "The Son of God".

      October 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  3. Julio

    This is for all the retards, oops Republicans. I just voted and on Monday I will mail it out. Guess whom I voted for? Who id this article about? I hope you're all mad!!!!!

    October 21, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • SugarKube

      You Reidtards are leeching losers.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • upside down

      So, I cancelled out your vote.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Gulfwwind

      Name calling is not very Christian of you. But, it is what I would expect for an Obama believer.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Chooch0253

      I bet you feel the same way about the "troll" SugarCube, a Romney supporter right?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Mike

      The mailman is a white blue collar worker who has been tossed aside by Obama. He just been checking the mail and throwing Democrat votes in the dumpster where the homeless find trash to burn.

      Vato your vote is heating the homeless!

      October 21, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • barb

      Amen to your comment!!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • cindy mann

      the articles uses Sam Brownback the governor of Kansas...as an example of a true christian.
      I am from Kansas.
      I bout spit up my morning coffee when I read it.
      There is no one more unchristian than Sam Brownback. His policies have destroyed the state of kansas. The only people that have gained from his leadership are the Koch Brothers and top 3 percent. There are homeless families pushing their belongings around in shopping carts in downtown Wichita, they push them buy the giant mega churchs and sleep on the river banks at night. Sam Brownback uses religion for political purposes only, mostly at election time. The names in the article should be swapped. President Obama is a great leader. I will say a prayer for him this morning. What a horrible misleading article by cnn.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Stick to issues

      Do your food stamps cover the postage stamp to mail in your vote?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Sara

      @upside down. Just put ballot in the mail for Obama, no, you're cancelled out.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  4. Milton

    Jesus sought to help the least among us, to help the poor, to lead a life that isn't in pursuit of money. There is nothing in the Republican platform that is Christ-like. If you don't follow the words of Jesus Christ, then you aren't a Christian. What shocks me is that more Democrats aren't using this obvious argument to dismantle the bizarre coalition of fundamentalist Christians and neo-con business types.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • SugarKube

      Your Holy Bible tells us that if a man will not work neither shall he eat. Nowhere in the Bible does welfare cone from the government, only the church. GET BUSY.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • delmasa

      SugarKube says help for the poor should come from the church and my guess it is because that gives him the option as to whether or not he helps. Folks who think like him don't contribute to charity, that is for others to do in his mind. I have seen way too many churches who use that help to coerce people to join their flock and that is why I was so opposed to George Bush's program to give taxpayer money to the churches. Organized religions have become a hate-filled money machine for the people who run them and that is why they are losing young people in droves.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Chooch0253

      @SugarCube your ignorance knows no bounds does it? I doubt you have ever opened a bible given your ridiculous comment. "Nowhere in the Bible does welfare cone from the government, only the church." Who claimed it did?

      You are ignorant and you are a bigot. Every single posting you have made clearly shows you never turn the channel from Fox .

      October 21, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Ilia Grechko

      The proper order of welfare is family, your network, church, and finally, as a last resort, the government. Conservatives and liberals alike should agree that a welfare system is necessary. However, that welfare system should include requirements that able-bodied people transition to work.

      Unfortunately, there will be abuse. Let's face it, some people, both liberals and conservatives alike, will abuse the welfare system.

      Right now, the liberal and conservative politicians abuse welfare. The liberals use it to generate a base of voters. They create fear in the lower class by saying the conservatives will do away with welfare and then say they will keep it in place and make sure that the people continue to get what they are getting now.The Conservatives point to the 47% who are taking some form of government handout and tell their base that this should not be so in its present state, but should be reformed.

      The Bible's discussion of the welfare is in a setting where Christ would not abuse the money that was given to form welfare. As we know, some in the government will abuse the money and power that comes along with the welfare dollars (conservative and liberal alike).

      So, the real question for conservatives (like me) and liberals is what do we deliver and how do we deliver it in terms of welfare services.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • travis

      100% agree. In this day and age, Republicans have become the epitome of hypocrites. In their early days they stood for SEPARATION of Church and State, social progression, and shunned the wealthy. But for the past 8 decades they have welcomed the Hypocritical big businessmen, who profess faith yet stand vehemently against taxation designed to aid the poor, a cornerstone of almost all faiths, and have consistently forced people to LINK Church and State by means of creating policies with subliminal purposes.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • akmac65

      Well said Milton.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Miss T Eyze

      RE: SugarKube

      "Your Holy Bible tells us that if a man will not work neither shall he eat. Nowhere in the Bible does welfare cone from the government, only the church..."
      Nowhere in the bible does it say a country should do anything that saves, protects or improves lives (ours uses taxpayer funds to train and maintain the worlds greatest military force to protect us, funds research that improves/saves lives, built an interstate highway system which helped our economy skyrocket (that the states would never have built on their own)... Only a fool sees the world in simplistic terms of dumbed-down biblical dogma that fundamentalists latch onto with such zeal. You sure sound like one.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  5. delmasa

    I'm sorry, but I find President Obama's Christianity far more decent and loving than that presented by the other purveyors of hate in this article who claim to be Christians by name calling and demeaning the President and anyone who doesn't practice their type of religion with its visions of a vengeful God. Mr. Andrew and Mr. Graham are the face of form of Christianity that takes more from the poor and frightened than they give. They are the money changers in their temples and are a disgrace to good people evrywhere.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • whosaidthat

      Decent and loving, tell that to the nine month fetus being aborted. Don't be sorry, just open you eyes!

      October 21, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Carole

      I have to agree with delmasa. I would say that Obama's family represents any average family where Christianity is concerned. I think this article is very "petty." Is there nothing left to pick on? I thank God that there are not many more days left for us to have to put up with this petty junk.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • lincoln douglas

      the percentage of abortions in the U.S. past 24 weeks is 0.08%. not exactly an epidemic. to put this number in perspective. 6 times as many people die while texting and driving and the same number of people die from falling out of bed each year.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • delmasa

      How many unwanted babies have you adopted? How much whining do you do about your tax money being used to support those children once they are born? You love the fetus, but hate the child. Hypocrites all.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      I like this article but many people who called themselves Christians don't know everything about Jesus and what would Jesus Do. If Jesus was so Non-Violent, why was Peter & his other closest comrades armed. At one time Jesus told them not to forget their swords. Why are White Christians attacking Obama, from all different angles, he is using Drones (too violent), he's not bombing Iran & Assad in Syria (too soft). Now if Obama's Mother was so Atheist why did she name him BARAK, for those of you who do not know it, Barak is actually a Hebrew Name. Check your bible in Judges when D'Borah called Barak and his army of ten thousand men to defeat & deliver Israel from the Canaanites. So Barak, is only called the anit christ because he is Black. The Mormons & White Church Preach & Teach that the Black Race started & is doomed to servitude because of a Curse. The Defense Minister Today of Israel is also named Barak therefore Barak Obama is more Christian than most of White People in America and is more Hebrew or Jew than those European Jews are in Todays Israel

      October 21, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • akmac65

      whosaid....Full term abortions are only in your imagination. That is not legal or ethical if the fetus is healthy.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • recovered

      Whosaid just told a lie.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  6. peter1953

    a foreigners (Dutch) view; it would be seen as a big laugh but also a disgrace for America if Romney was elected; the Republicans never brought anything good for the USA and the rest of the world; look what Bush did; a huge deficit; a war with the wrong enemy and the Democrats had to clean up the mess again;

    October 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • SugarKube

      The problem is the dem's had four years and everything issue worse. Debt, poverty, food prices, fuel prices, home losses, AAdowngrade....

      October 21, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • upside down

      Peter, our country, our problem. We don't care what the Dutch say. Obama will sell us out soon. I pray for a world-wide collapse, with only the strong staying alive. In other words, Democrats would perish.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Chooch0253

      @Upsidedown You do not speak for America and you certainly do not speak for me. I care what other people think about America and it's people regardless your ignorant opinion.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Buenare

      @Sugar Kube – When you get dropped in to a pond of crap that is up to your chin it takes a while to get out....and sometimes you trip. Obama inherited a country that was failing. Of course it got worse. Why hasn't it gotten better quicker? Ask the republicans in congress who have turned down everything that would help the economy.

      @Peter – Thank you for an outside view. When you are on the inside it is difficult to see the whole picture and you sometimes need a different perspective.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • anniem

      Amen.,

      October 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  7. Me 3

    Now let's look at Mitt Romney who is a member of the Mormon church. If you search on the wives of Joseph Smitt the founder of that church, you will find Wikipedia talks of his polygomy and lists 27 wives. This guy, like Mitt was a snake oil salesman. Mitt's grandparents fled to Mexico so they could practice polygemy. Maybe that is why Romney has no integrity and thinks it is OK to lie and say anything to get elected.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Over It

      Love your comment. Romney is like a guy who wants to get laid. He will say ANYTHING to get the girl to let him 'in'. I hope we don't 'let him in'. Thief and a liar.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • lincoln douglas

      just the tip!

      October 21, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Ilia Grechko

      Look at Romney for who he is: a good, decent man. He is a man of faith. He donated all of his time as "bishop" of the congregation he oversaw. He was not paid. He pays 30% of his annual income (a tremendous income) to charity. He gives of his time to public causes and does not ask to be compensated for that time. I understand that he has enough money to forego being compensated, however, so does Barak Obama, and he continues to be compensated without the liberals saying a word. Mr. Obama is wealthy, just not as wealthy as Mr. Romney, and no one flinches about that. Mr. Obama doesn't donate anywhere near the amount of money that Mr. Romney does to charity.

      There are many good things about Mr. Obama – recognized by Romney. He is a family man. He spends time with his wife and children. Mr. Romney recognized these things in a recent speech at a charity fundraiser.

      The issue comes down to who will better lead the country. Mitt has much more experience in leading a business, leading an economy, and leading to correct the errors of the past.

      Hating Mr. Romney because he is "Mormon" is no different than hating Mr. Obama because you claim he is not American, he is Muslim, or any of the other reasons being spouted.

      Mr. Romney has gone about public service because he made sufficient money to last him a lifetime. Many others would have continued to earn tremendous sums. Instead, he has gone about public service in a way that few would, rich or poor.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  8. HOLY RIGHT OF EVIL AND GOOD. TRUE DUALITY

    A conservative is the most likely to become the Anti-Christ. They will start wars in the name of false gods and the word of false prophets. The KKK are made up of white conservative christians.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • delmasa

      Amen to that.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Over It

      You nailed it.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Snowdog

      They are not Christian if they are in the KKK and hate and murder. Give me a break. You condemn a whole group of poeple for the evil actions of a few that say they are Christain. Sound familiar. American history is riddle with people who comdemn a whole group of people for the actions of a few. Just like 9/11, you cannot condemn thew whole Muslim people for the action of a few nuts.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • lincoln douglas

      agreed that you cannot always blame the majority for the actions of a very small minority. You can however blame ancient texts (bible, koran, etc.) for the extreme actions of these "fundamentalists". As long as grown adults continue to believe this nonsense, extremists on all sides will continue to incubate.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • lrich_9

      Just goes to show how little you know about the world we live in.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Jesus

      100% correct

      October 21, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • BJust

      Can't we all stop abusing each other and think As adults about our future & the future of our kids? What kind of country do we want? A country were plenty of successful people make good living for themselves and by extension to everyone else? Or a welfare state where people just demand but not contribute? A country which has moral values and mutual respect for each other or a country which turns itself into a new Babylon? Think good!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Miss T Eyze

      I'd say uneducated, unsuccessful bitter racist white-trash fundamentalists (who are all about as sharp as a marble) are always the ones drawn to the KKK, John Birch, and fundamentalist 'churches'... they're easy to amp up with hatred of a common enemy... which is what you see 'churches' like Westboro Blabtist do... just look at the combination of zeal and hatred in their faces when they're on the news. You can tell by the fruit what the vine is... hate-filled lynch mobs are just one step away...

      October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  9. awbilinski

    Informative article. Thank you.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  10. kreed

    Mitt has binders full of Christians

    October 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • SugarKube

      Obama has binders full of Muslim Bruthahood

      October 21, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • delmasa

      No, Romney has binders full of lies and tells a different one on his positions daily. He has no core from which to show us any form of integrity.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  11. Justsaying2U

    Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.

    That should've been in the 1st line, as it appears, no contributor to this article can say they know what the President believes. All these internet diagnosis of the Presidents' religion, birth certificate, college transcripts, etc just amplify how easy it is for some people to be persuaded by what they don't know, as opposed to seeking the information to make objective decisions.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  12. lejaune

    Mormons are the right kind of Christians?

    October 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Yeah, just ask the Hypocrite, Billy Graham who taught for the past 60-70 yrs that the Mormon Church was a CULT. NOW, BECAUSE HE WANTS A WHITE MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE, HE TAKES DOWN HIS WEBB SITE AND SUPPORTS MITT ROMNEY AND SAYS THE MORMON CHURCH IS NOW A CHRISTIAN CHURCH. This type of Hypocricy is sickening & disturbing, Billy has been a known racist for the past 90 yrs he disowned his niece because she was dating a black man, yrs ago

      October 21, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Brian

      Mitt's grandfather was a child molester. That's why he fled to Mexico, so he could keep his young "brides".

      October 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  13. Dave

    Clearly, this "religion" writer has a tainted perspective of what true Christianity is all about and it's extremely unfortunate that CNN has politicized this issue. The writer also failed to take into account that most narcissistic people such as our president think they ARE a god of sorts. His actions/views on abortion are just one example. We also can't forget his muslim roots and no matter how he slices and dices it, his ONLY motivation is for votes.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • delmasa

      You best take a look at the Mormon alternative. If ever there was a narcissist. The man is willing and able for morph from one being to another and lie with impunity. His financial greed is disgusting and his plans for the least among us You, most likely, are one of those who ranted because you think the President's Christian pastor said terrible things about America and he was awful to sit in that church for 20 years and listen to that. At the same time, you say he has Muslim beliefs. You folks want it both way. It has appeared to me that the President has exhibited more Christian values than any of his detractors. He has tolerated the disgraceful disrespect, the racial slurs, the threats on his life and never spoken a word in retaliation. I would prefer to be in the company of that kind of Christian any day.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • brian

      Hey DAVE, you're a f***ing moron. You know that it's MORMONS that believe they are going to become "little gods", right? Not Christians, and not even MUSLIMS (as some claim Obama to be), but ROMNEY is a MORMON & a former pastor in the Mormon church, which means he believes he will become a "god" or already is one.

      Please, please, please stop throwing your mother-f***ing mouth around this thread without having a clue of what you're writing.

      And please, oh please, don't vote. An ill-informed vote is the worst kind.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Molly

      Igronant people like you is what is wrong with America. The so called Christians are filled with hate, racism and greed. If you we're any decent human being you would have given president Obama credit for creating 140,000 jobs in one month instead of loosing 800,000 jobs per month. He was going after Osama when you and others were going after his birth certificate. This just to name a few. You will never be a rational thinker because your sole over taken by HATE.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Elmer

      Clearly you failed to read the article.

      It states, from a research perspective, that he grew up in a "swirl" or religion. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism. So if you want to refer to his "roots", why not be accurate and refer to ALL of his roots? Not just the one "hot button" one that suits your ignorant agenda?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Chooch0253

      "Clearly" you have no freaking clue.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Chooch0253

      " his ONLY motivation is for votes." You have the candidates confused apparently. Obama has remained consistent for the most part in his beliefs and actions. Romney's change like most change their underwear, at least daily. Sock puppet posting.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      You, can say what you want but the more you say it, the more foolish you SOUND. For those of you, who still thinks Obama is is Muslim how many Muslims that u know eats Bacon and drink beer and also believes in a Woman 's Right to have a child or not. In fact, how many Muslims believe in any Woman's Right, Actually the Conservative White Christian Republican Tea Party is TEN TIMES MORE MUSLIM THAN OBAMA BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THE SAME THING ABOUT WOMEN'S RIGHT TO CHOSE OR LEAD!

      October 21, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Miss T Eyze

      RE: Dave
      " it's extremely unfortunate that CNN has politicized this issue..." Really, Dave??? Fundamentalists have politicized religion because that's where the big bucks are. Don't be a tool.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  14. Katie

    If there is a 'wrong' kind of Christian it is the one who uses the Bible as an excuse or to justify their actions (war, slavery, discrimination, oppression, suppression, or condemnation) and it is the one who ignores the preaching of Jesus (tolerance, love, forgiveness, inclusion) and turns instead to a handful of lines in the Old Testament more in keeping with how they prefer to act.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Elmer

      As an atheist, I will start by saying this: I don't care WHAT religion you are, as long as your beliefs are for the common good, tolerance and advancement of mankind.

      With that said... let's be fair and discuss the Bible for what it really is. In it (as Obama so brilliantly points out) are fine examples of atrocities that are not only mentioned in the Bible, but condoned and in some cases required.

      Slavery: pick pretty much ANY passage involving conflict and you will find examples of the scripture ALLOWING the raping and sequestering of women.

      Human sacrifice: a burning bush tell Abraham to kill his son (of course, only at the last second does God say "naaaaah, just kidding")

      Whoring out your daughter: (from Genesis 19) 6 Lot went outside to them, closing the door behind him. 7 He said, "No, my brothers! Do not do this evil thing. 8 Look! I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. I will give them to you, and you may do anything you want with them. But please don't do anything to these men. They have come to my house, and I must protect them."

      Etc etc.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  15. ugh

    two things
    first the term Christian means little Christ it was meant as in insult at first, as a Christian it should affect every part of my life, as a true follower of Jesus there is no way I could say I believe this is wrong (but because I am in politics) I will vote another way. That is not following.
    two to claim obama is a Christian the Bible says to look at your fruit to see. His fruit is spoiled, he promotes other relegions, he assists in the murdering of babies, he perverts marriage which God set up. For those who want to say he helps the poor again yes we are to help the poor, but the point of the Bible is "we" the church are to do it out of love, not out of tax and then hope the goverment does the helping.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      ugh... While your post is interesting, it is irrelevant to the debate. We should not elect a President based on his religion, but on his politics. We can agree or disagree with his views on abortion, social programs, etc.. but his religion is HIS alone, as is YOURS and in my case, my atheism.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • delmasa

      If anyone wants to see the evil, self-righteous hate spewed by those who claim they are better Christians than the President, take a very good look at the nasty comments here and ask yourselves if you have ever heard anything as vile as some of these comments come from the President. He promotes other religions, no he promotes tolerance of the beliefs of others and the kind of Christianity I see promoted in these comments rejects any belief but those held by the writers. Some of these people present a worst picture than the religious extremists they criticize.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Elmer

      Another fine example of:

      "MY invisible guy in the sky is better than your invisible guy in the sky!"

      Grow up and get past the nonsense, please. If a few wars and murder plots in history had gone differently, you could be praying to Zeus right now, fearing lightning bolts raining down from the sky.

      'One ages religion is another's mythology." – Unknown

      October 21, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • akmac65

      ugh....According to your standards, a person's beliefs have nothing to do with whether they are Christian or not. My understanding is that a belief in Jesus as savior is sufficient to be a Christian. It is up to God, not you, to judge a person's life when they die.

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

      very well put

      October 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bob

      The pro-life stuff is so off base.
      You can be personally pro-life because you are a Christian, yet be vehemently against legislating your beliefs on other people who don't share your Christianity. To force your beliefs on others through laws, makes you Taliban not Christian. If you want to put an end to abortion you need to do what you were instructed to do in the Bible and spread the gospel and disciple. If you convert and teach someone they will not abort the baby, but if you take the easy way out and try to legislate your beliefs on others then it won't stop the abortion. This also applies to all your other hot button moral issues that do nothing but divide and spread hate which is also against the teachings in the Bible.
      Jesus did not spend his ministry in Rome trying to pass legislation.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • calkinsart

      are you serious? what a fool you are, hater. grow up

      October 22, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  16. kennyboon

    There are many non-christian and non religious in this country.
    Furthermore, do you think Romney is the "right Christian" when he is required to wear sacred underwear, no drinking coffee and tea, the LDS leaders are the only authority he should listen too, he can have more than one wife after this life, etc? You got to be kidding me.

    President Obama supports everyone in this country, he is a secular leader for all and no a religious leader for all.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  17. henry wester

    a nation divided can not stand alone" i can't belief the amount time that the christian right, GOP and other haters of Obama have put into judging if Obama is christian and if he is how much of a christian. now tell me how much of time have the take to question the Mormon Church. the church has temples that only a person at a high level in the church may attend. The what is the answer to why black where not permitted to join church. Billy graham got bless him should not be involved in approving if it is a church. Man is playing GOD now, let Jesus speak for him self.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  18. MoneyGrubbingJackholes

    So Obama is the type of Christian who provides equal service and protections to ALL people, not just the filthy stinkin' rich, and doesn't say eh's "doing it in God's name," thus he must be the "wrong type of Christian."

    Meanwhile Mitt says "We have to bring this nation back to a fundamentally Christian viewpoint and standing" but to do so he has to remove all the protections and equality Obama has fought to get in place, opress the poor and middle class of the nation (again!), destroy several places that are the only locations hudreds of thousands of women can get a general health and wellness check-up done, single out and destroy the civil liberties of a minority group of people in America, oh and start a new war.

    Something seems completely skewed here...

    October 21, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      There was a huge fight in early Christian cults about this very topic. Should Christians become involved with those who are not Christian? One group was for working with others, the other group wanted to ignore, even kill those who were not their type of Christians... Two thousand years later and not much has changed.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • The truth

      Romney is a wolf in sheep clothing that may be lying his way to a victory. You can tell a lie so often that people who aren't informed will accept a lie as the truth.

      October 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  19. unowhoitsme

    Everyone has a right to their own belief system. Personally, I think that 'religion', not God, is a cult, because it's manmade and manipulates people into thinking a certain way. Perhaps the 'true' test of a "Christian" would be their walk. Do they really love, show compassion, and help others around them? Yes, President Obama and his family do.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • House4rent

      Someone once said "Religion has nothing to do with God, and everything to do with control."

      October 21, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  20. Chooch0253

    I think it matters given all the rhetoric spewing from the mouths of Republicans that Obama is a Muslim.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • Gordon Duprey

      Does anyone actually believe he is a real Christian? NOT

      October 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Mike

      Hey Madonna thinks he's Muslim too. hehehe

      October 21, 2012 at 8:41 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.