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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. Galileo Galileo

    Another useless misleading article. Is CNN on the take too. Your starting to talk like Faux News

    October 21, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Ameri2010

      You know, I find this lefty mantra to be repeated because I guess leftists think if they repeat it enough, it will become fact. Each time I've heard a leftist saying "faux" news, I compared the two and Fox always has political and factual news headlines while CNN is posting entertainment articles for the brain dead over here. Fox right now has a headline about foreign policy and the upcoming debate. CNN is trying to sell I don't know what – an antichrist? Weird.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  2. nottolate

    "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?”

    If Obama has to ask those questions it shows us he's completely ignorant of scripture just like most the people posting here.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Cryslas

      Actually, your response shows a lack of critical thinking ability on your part with regard to the Bible's factually correct quotes by Obama.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  3. Ameri2010

    Our orders—BACKED BY THE MASTER, JESUS—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.

    Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.

    If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice.

    (2 Thessalonians)

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  4. John

    Osama Obama Odumba there is no difference. All muslims. The truth will eventually be known.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • jeff kelly

      The only reason Obama, the MUSLIM, doesn't get on his knees to pray in public is to save political face. OBAMA is a muslim.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      oh you two are so cute. now run along and play.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Cryslas

      And you will vote for a man who's church believes the LDS Church (church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) after Armageddon will rule the world for 1000 years with Jesus himself?

      October 21, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Bill Bixler

      You are either kidding, or completely ignorant of the facts. Show me one mainstream article that supports your position. Just one will do.

      October 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  5. Anthony

    "I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ." Gandhi How we treat others speaks louder than our religious beliefs. I believe in separation of Church and State. How come the religious right is against "abortion" but does not have a problem with the "death penalty." It amazes me that some people just follow along and don't question anything (talk about dogma)

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • nottolate

      @Anthony

      "I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ." Gandhi

      You do know Gandi was a servant of Satan, right? You get your quotes from servants of Satan as if somehow this guy was righteous? Not wise at all.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • snowboarder

      notto – "servant of satan"

      lol. you just can't make this stuff up.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • nottolate

      @snowb0arder

      You really can't make this stuff up. Them are the facts. We give em to you. If you scoff you have no one to blame but yourself.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I love it when Nottoobright posts. It just reinforces every stereotype of the toothless zealot who never got a high school diploma.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • p1965wi

      Comparing abortion to the death penalty is like comparing apples to oranges. Of course anyone in their right mind would not want legal abortion, however it has been thrust on us. Yes, when someone is convicted of a murder that was premeditated and intentional they should be put to death

      October 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  6. Mosesthejew

    ERROR TO CORRECT IN 9:34am post! I meant to say when Mr. Obama stands before his maker on judgement day I've no doubts that his Christian Faith will carry him home, into GOD'S Loving Arms!

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • nottolate

      @Mosesthejew,

      "I've no doubts that his Christian Faith will carry him home, into GOD'S Loving Arms"

      Is that so? Tell us, is Obama born again? And if he is how do you? And while you're at it explain in simple terms just what does BORN AGAIN mean anyway? After you answer all that we will believe you and agree with you.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How do YOU know he isn't, NotaBrain? And who put you in charge of telling anyone else that they don't know what being "born again" means?

      Quite frankly, if you're an example of what it is to be born again, I'll stick with anything else.

      I'd prefer a leader who was born right the first time.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    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?"

    At first, what about Old Testament slavery? Good or bad?

    Actually God (the God of Israel) had commanded Israel to exterminate some nations (they lived on the territory of today Palestine) because these nations committed unimaginable sins: intercourse in all directions: man with man, woman with woman, father with daughter, mother with son, father and mother with animals, etc.. Furthermore they sacrificed infants to their idols (Moloch and the like). Sometimes it happened that Israel did not kill all war prisoners according to God's command but took them as slaves which was tolerated by God. In that context the slavery was a grace for the concerned people because at least they kept their life. We can imply that the concerned nations had been admonished many times before God started to judge them using Israel as his tool of wrath. These nations were stubborn sinners which had deserved no more grace but only judgement.

    By the way, our modern societies more and more resemble slave markets. Who is responsible for that? Mr. Obama.

    Why does God allow that we more and more become economical slaves (human robots)? Because we don't seek His countenance which is actually the meaning of life. Dear reader, a better life in Jesus waits for you. Get it right now, and start to believe in the one who died and resurrected for you in order to set you free, and be your righteousness.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      so are you really trying to claim that the alternative to slavery was death so therefore they should be grateful for it? and that the women and children that will slaughtered when a city was invaded deserved it because god had given them enough chances?
      thats what it sure looked like you said.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • snowboarder

      braendlein – pure fables.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  8. Cedar rapids

    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.”

    so the leader of the christian anti-defamation league is disparaging obama's christianity? oh the irony.

    "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."

    what the heck are bible verses doing in a pentagon daily report in the first place?

    my wife's cousin says he still isnt convinced that Obama isnt the anti-christ.....and he is serious. That shows the sort of nuts the christian right have.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  9. shannondavidsmith

    Mitt Romney has dedicated his life to the teachings of a false prophet and a false god from the Kolob star system. Not a single god. Not the Christian God. Romney is a fraud that worships a fraud.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  10. Grumpster

    Like there is any RIGHT type of Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      isnt it amazing how anyone who says that is a 'right' kind of anything will always include themselves in that group?

      October 21, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  11. Steve

    Religion is a personal experience one has alone. Anyone who denies another human of their experience based on their own knowledge or judgement has never heard the infinite choir of the birds of the universe.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  12. LS

    I can't believe that CNN would entertain an article that calls our President the anti-Christ. Wow. What a load! CNN, do you have any standards?

    October 21, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Great

      Finally, an article not about the gays. You should be glad.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • nottolate

      @LS,

      Your president is indeed a type of anti-Christ. And so is Romney. Understand what anti-Christ means in all its contexts first.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  13. myuntidydesk

    Obama is the kind of Christian I try to be... compassionate, not telling people they are sinners and going to Hell. I am pro-choice, but that doesn't mean I think abortion is right... it means I think it should be safe and legal and if it is a sin, then that between the woman having the abortion and God. As for gay marriage, any two legal adults should be allowed to marry. And as for war... show me a US president who would not send troops into a country we were at war with. We need to quit looking to the Evangelical definition of Christianity and look at a more realistic view of it.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • johnnie2

      Romney is the kind of Christian that I aspire to be. Giving freely of his time and talent to others in need and doing so quiety. Consider this:

      Of the two candidates which has given a greater percentage of his income to charity?
      Of the two candidates which has been revealed to have given personal acts of help to those in need?
      Of the two candidates which is the one that served a mission for his church – without pay?
      Of the two candidates which is the one that also served as a pastor for his congregation for more than 10 years at his own expense?
      Of the two candidates which one served in public leadership roles – refusing to be paid a salary?

      The record of Romney's personal behaviors is a strong witness for me of the caliber of the man seeking office.

      As an independent, I fell for the flowery words of Obama and voted for him. Lesson learned. I won't be doing that again. Obama has been revealed by his behaviors and his dismal record in office.

      Romney is the better choice this November!

      October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Sawmills

      There's no in between. Either you follow the rules stated in the Bible for us to follow, or you don't. You can't pick and choose whichever rules suite you best. God doesn't want us to follow the rules of the old testament, which is what he was talking about. He wants us to follow the laws and commands of the new testament, which is what Jesus taught. The old testament was mainly for the Israelites. Just that one quote from Obama tells me and the whole protestant church, that he doesn't know his Bible (as he was obviously trying to show) and doesn't even understand the fundamentals of it.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Sawmills

      Johny, I agree with Romney's way of life s way better, but I want to point out that what you said about falling for Obama's flowery words at first, but not again, is what America needs to listen to!

      October 21, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • nottolate

      @johnnie2

      "Of the two candidates which has given a greater percentage of his income to charity?
      Of the two candidates which has been revealed to have given personal acts of help to those in need?
      Of the two candidates which is the one that served a mission for his church – without pay?
      Of the two candidates which is the one that also served as a pastor for his congregation for more than 10 years at his own expense? Of the two candidates which one served in public leadership roles – refusing to be paid a salary?"

      And none of that will get you into Heaven.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • nottolate

      "Obama is the kind of Christian I try to be... compassionate, not telling people they are sinners and going to Hell. I am pro-choice, but that doesn't mean I think abortion is right... it means I think it should be safe and legal and if it is a sin, then that between the woman having the abortion and God. As for gay marriage, any two legal adults should be allowed to marry. "

      Then you too deceive your own self and are not a Christian at all. Not telling people about Hell? It is written,

      Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • nottolate

      "We need to quit looking to the Evangelical definition of Christianity and look at a more realistic view of it."

      Translation: I'll ignore God's instruction book for my life (the evangelical view) and do as I please. I'll do as I think is right and not what God says is right. My friend, there is a way that seems right to a man, the end thereof is death. You are on that path.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  14. Fred

    He must:

    - Not provide food and healthcare to the poorest in the country at MY expense. Jesus would have not liked that. Taking money from me to feed the poor.

    - Hate gays – because Jesus was all about juding others.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  15. AuntieMEK

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

    October 21, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  16. brad4nyc

    There is no right kind of Christian because god and Jesus are imaginary. If Jesus were real he would be a jerk. Here is proof:

    Have you noticed that in many cases Jesus is childish and emotional, rather than thoughtful? People who act like this are jerks. Here's an example from Matthew 18:7-9:

    "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
    This statement is totally ridiculous on several different levels. First, something like a hand cannot "cause you to sin" - your brain causes "sin." Every intelligent person knows that. Therefore, gouging your eye out or cutting your hand off is useless. If you have a problem with "sin" and you are going to amputate something to solve it, you would need to amputate your brain, since that is where all "sin" originates.
    But if you think about it further, you realize that Jesus has completely missed the actual remedy. If you are having a problem with unproductive behaviors, what you need to do is either educate or rehabilitate yourself. You would do that by talking with a counselor or seeing a therapist. Amputation is an absurd prescription, as every intelligent person knows. Jesus is not only a jerk - he is an idiot. He dispenses advice that is completely useless, and recklessly dangerous as well.

    Here is another emotional outburst from Mark 11:15-16:

    On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
    Is this a smart thing to do? Is this the kind of behavior you expect from a thoughtful, rational adult? No, it is the behavior of a child. Surely the all-powerful son of God could come up with a better plan than knocking over tables in a one-time outburst.
    In Mark 11:12-14 we find another emotional reaction:

    The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
    Later we learn that the tree is dead.
    Let's see. The son of God is hungry. He approaches a fig tree. The tree is out of season and has no fruit. Jesus wants fruit. So he kills the tree. What a total jerk! Why didn't he wave his all-powerful hand and cause figs to appear? Or how about borrowing a raisin from someone and turning it into a 5,000 baskets of figs? Only a true jerk would kill something out of spite.

    Here is one final example. Let's say that you want to really jerk people around. One way to do that would be to constantly contradict yourself. Therefore, we find Jesus saying this in Luke 14:26:

    Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
    OK, so if we hate everything, we can be Jesus' disciple. That's a great message from someone who elsewhere says, "Love your enemy" and "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." And don't forget that one of the commandments is to honor your father and mother. So which is it Jesus? If we want to be your disciple, should we love our enemies, our neighbors and our parents, or should we hate them? Only a jerk would create a totally contradictory set of requirements like that.

    More proof at godisimaginary.com

    October 21, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Grumpster

      Nail hit on the head there. Nicely done.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Great

      You read the Bible from your perspective and not God's perspective. Re Read the Bible as if you where a God and we are your people. You will then see how idiotic and rebellious we are. Finally, you have to accept the fact that you are no more then a blade of grass

      October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  17. Cargapalitos

    Right! You'll get your chance when Rick Perry runs again, next time. He is really crazy about religion, talks to God and everything.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  18. HereNow

    Thankfully, as a practicing atheist it matters not to me how Obama approaches his or any other religion so long as he keeps it out of his political decision making.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  19. helensadornmentsblog

    The religious right has turned Christianity into a brand not a religion. If you attend a good church you should have people with many different religious views. I have said for the past ten years, "I want my religion back"

    October 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  20. Dave

    Obama is a Muslim.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Grumpster

      @dave....keep drinking the kool-aid there.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Hbmckinn

      @Dave, have you been to a Mosque with him? Did you see him reading the Koran and got the video?

      October 21, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • In Reason I Trust

      He's really not Dave, but who cares its all made up anyway.

      Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc, all folks so scared of dying they'll belive anything. Even magic virign babies that walk on water (must have made
      Bath time a real pain for Mary).

      October 21, 2012 at 9:43 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.