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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. bosefasaurus

    I would prefer he were NO kind of Christian or any religion. I do not really like knowing that the person in charge of our nukes believes in an imaginary friend named God. That is a ridiculous thing to believe in. There is no evidence for the existence of a god and the fact that people continue to believe in gods only endangers our species and this planet.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • TownC

      The founding fathers and all those who have upheld our cherished rights including Lincoln and others all believed in God and many fought and died so you could have the rights that you think are endangered!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • ram

      While I don't believe in God, which doesn't mean I don't believe in spirituality or many other wonderful things, I respect his right to believe in God and I think it is a personal issue. I don't care if a candidate believes in God or no God or several gods, but what I do care about is that s/he not force his/her beliefs on anyone else. I also care that s/he acts in a way that shows me there is concern for all Americans and not just those who go to the "right" church, and I want leaders who respect all people and not just a select group who believe as they do.

      It isn't where a person goes to church that dictates what kind of person s/he is, but words and actions. There is no "right" church or belief system, and judging who is Christian enough is bizarre and against the words from the book Christians say they follow. Jesus (probably was a Jesus, but that didn't mean he was son of a God) wouldn't have gone around with litmus paper judging who was "Christian enough", but would have welcomed all. He wouldn't have wanted religious groups running the government, either.

      How about we all treat each other with respect and mind our own business regarding what others believe instead of proclaiming one group better than others? Those preachers who are judging Mr. Obama are the ones not following their own book. Oh, and if Mr. Obama weren't Christian who cares????? I want a decent person in the office and I don't care if that person goes to church or not. What a clueless bunch of people to assume THEY know how everyone else should live.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  2. Mennoknight

    In Canada in the 1950's and 60's it was Evangelicals who brought in universal health care because they believed it was a mandate of Jesus Christ to take care of the poor. It was lead by a Baptist minister named Tommy Douglas and his staff included Mennonites, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Catholics.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • J R Brown

      Jesus did teach to take care of the poor...except He taught that it was expected of individuals, not governments. Jesus NEVER taught that Christians should take action through secular governments....they were always supposed to be individuals acting on His teachings in their personal lives.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  3. Rolph

    The first time God spoke it was about how to treat fellow men and to obey him because he is a jealous God and therefore not perfect in his own words. Beware of false prophets bringing false gifts...
    King James Version
    And God spake all these words, saying,

    I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

    1.

    Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    2.

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

    3.

    Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    4.

    Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
    5.

    Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

    6.

    Thou shalt not kill.

    7.

    Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    8.

    Thou shalt not steal.

    9.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

    10.

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

    KJVESVASVNLTNIVYLTCJBAMP

    October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Actually, the first time God spoke, it was more along the lines of "Why don't you go have s¢x with that woman over there? I'm sure she'd really like it."
       
      At least that's what the guy claimed afterward.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • sybaris

      what about the other set of commandments?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • brad4nyc

      Your god is a false prophet and a evil monster. Than god god is imaginary!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. ATLmatt

    "Is Obama the 'right' kind of christian?" is the wrong question to ask. I think the better question is: IS THERE A RIGHT KIND A CHRISTIAN? The answer is NO.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • RB

      unless you are not Christian at all - like a Mormon. they do not follow the bible and beleve that God was sent from another universe. Christians need to remember this when they go to the polls to vote.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • ram

      Well said. And if he had no religion who cares? It's what he does that matters and not where/if he prays.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • visitor

      Mormonism is a strange blend of early American mysticism including Freemasonry, Buddhism and Hindu, Islam and Christianity. I think it is rather new agey. I would think it is rather cool, except for the fact that only Mormons get to go to the highest level of heaven, meaning Christians and anyone else well, don't, and that anyone can be a God, well, Men at least. Women, who knows? Maybe they can be Goddesses but I think LDS can't really decide where women fit in. All religions are works in progress. It is fascinating to watch this essentially polytheistic religion, who put the Book of Mormon right on top of the Bible, morph itself.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  5. nick

    So, if one was to listen to these skeptics, we will have a choice this election between 2 non so called Christian.
    Jesus give it up.
    Even if it were true, IT DOES NOT MATTER. Religion is supposed to bring us together not sepeate us.
    My God this is the problem with 24 hour news, they have to fill it with something, anything .

    October 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • sybaris

      and yet you read this 24 hour news.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Where did you EVER come by the amazing idea that religion was supposed to bring us together? It's never done that in its entire history since the day Caveman Ug bashed Caveman Lug over the head and said the sun god made him do it.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • j

      Mormons are Christian!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  6. Karrie

    Some of the nastiest, most self-centered, narcissistic people I've ever met wear that label "good Christian" on their sleeve like a badge, the biggest hypocrites on two legs. Seems that one hour in church on Sunday means they can treat people any way they want the other 167 hours of the week. To me, questioning whether or not a person is a "good" Christian is a plus nowadays.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  7. Imaginary Skydaddy

    If you believe Obama is a muslim, you are a stupid person. Don't vote.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  8. Chris33

    Romney's Medicare Fraud....

    In 1989, Romney led Bain Capital's purchase of Damon Corp., a medical testing company, and took a seat on the Board of Directors to better manage it. During Romney's four years, Bain tripled its investment, and Romney personally made $473,000 - while Damon plumped its profits with Medicare fraud (running thousands of medical tests doctors didn't want, and billing Medicare for them). The company pled guilty to crimes committed during his tenure and paid a record fine of $119 million. Company President Joseph Isola pleaded no contest to fraud, and a vice president was also convicted.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  9. Richard

    When you place a democrat in a republican seat you kill the republic if you place a non christian in power you kill all christians ,
    President Obama is not a christian, you my say yes he is but when you have this many people saying he is not then something is wrong .. GOD first country second .

    October 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      "if you place a non christian in power you kill all christians ,"

      I'm sure 1.3 billion newly dead Chinese would be real sorry if you were anywhere close to reality on this.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • sybaris

      and you Richard, exemplify why religion and the worship of god(s) is a filthy perverted disease of the mind

      October 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What a complete wackaloon. How do people like you even tie your own shoes?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Seattle Sue

      Yes Richard, something is wrong. It is the fanatic religious far right Christians that are so wrong.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      "GOD first country second ."

      yeah, anyone that would put god first is someone you shouldnt trust to be in charge of the country

      October 21, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • ram

      Lol...really. Sure. That makes no sense at all.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  10. brad4nyc

    America was never a "christian" nation, nor should it ever be one. God and Jesus are imaginary. Proof at http://www.godisimaginary.com

    October 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Leeanna

      Oh when will the crazy holy rollers fade out and become extinc. How much proof do you need. Evolution-fact. Stories of the bible -fiction. When I hear someone thanking god when their family member makes it home from war, or when they find a missing child, or when you survive a car wreak. While youre at it you might as well thank the same god for creating situation. Letting the other families loved one die in war. The other families child turn up dead. A car crash killes a bus full of Childern and innocents. Ect ect. Because I don't want to know a god who lets this happen. Why can't we be educated enough to vote for a president based on morals and qualities???

      October 21, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  11. Religion is Fake

    There is no right kind of Christian or even religion. It's just a made up fantasy for those that fear death.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  12. RichardSRussell

    You know who you should REALLY believe about who's a true Christian? Jesus! ONLY Jesus knows fersher. And he ain't talkin'.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  13. Cedar rapids

    It seems bizarre to me that people are prepared to say he isnt christian because of his stance on stuff like gay marriage but are quite prepared to believe he is muslim, despite their stance against gay marriage being the same.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • nottolate

      @Cedar rapids,

      "It seems bizarre to me that people are prepared to say he isnt christian because of his stance on stuff like gay marriage"

      Well in that he demonstrates clearly he is not born again. You couldn't do it if you were. It just wouldn't be in you.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      'not born again'

      like that actually means anything.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • nottolate

      @Cedar rapids,

      'not born again' like that actually means anything.

      It means everything. For without it, you cannot go to Heaven:

      1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit

      October 21, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • ram

      And on the off chance that your idea of not going to heaven if you aren't born again were true, who difference does it make to you if someone else goes to heaven? Who really cares? How about you worry about things that matter to you regarding religion and let everyone else take care of their own stuff?

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

      @ram

      "And on the off chance that your idea of not going to heaven if you aren't born again were true, who difference does it make to you if someone else goes to heaven? Who really cares?"

      Can't believe you really asked that. Don't you care about other people? We tell you because we care about you and don't want to see you go to Hell. You've got some idea as to what Hell is who wants to see anybody go there? There are but two options: Either you are born again (by an act of God) and go to Heaven or you're not and go to Hell.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      "nottolate @Cedar rapids, 'not born again' like that actually means anything.

      It means everything. For without it, you cannot go to Heaven"

      the born again christian lot are just another off-shoot of christianity, and carries no more weight as to being the 'true' christian faith than catholics or protestants.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  14. Woody

    Mormons are not christians and in America there is freedom of and freedom from religion . If america is a christian nation as so many would like than those that want a christian nation will not have a christian nation if a mormon is elected . But for some voting for an oz world will do just fine ! Most Americans vote for what they see with their eyes and not their brain !

    October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • TownC

      Mormons are Christians! Go to Mormon.org to learn more about what Mormons believe.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • visitor

      TownC, Mormons are less Christian than Muslims. At least Muslims didn't rewrite how the entire cosmology works.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  15. Chris33

    Romney's KB Toys fraud

    Bain Capital 'purchased' KB for the respectable price of $ 305 million dollars on December 8, 2000.

    Bain Capital only offered $ 18 million in cash, the rest was leaveraged debt put on the company.

    Sixteen months after the buyout, Bain Capital paid itself $85 million in dividends in early 2002.

    January 14, 2004, K·B Toys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed 365 stores.

    Three years later the rest of the 156 stores were closed down.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Golfer1

      Chris33: Your foolish comments are unrelated to the subject. Obama is a one term president. Get over it.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  16. Meatwad

    I believe in Jesus ya'll. Jesus loves all the little children. I bought some fluffy socks at the airport, buy 2 get one free.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  17. Chris33

    Romney's Son of Boss fraud

    In his key role as chairman of the Marriott board's audit committee, Romney approved the firm's reporting of fictional tax losses exceeding $70 million generated by its Son of Boss transaction.

    Romney's AMPAD fraud

    American Pad and Paper. Romney and Bain Capital bought it from Mead Company, when it had total debts of $11 million. By the time they sold it, the company had $400 million in debt - and Bain had earned $100 million off the deals, between fees it charged the company for managing it and for buying other companies, and profits from selling the company's stock after they took it public (for yet another fee). Bain was later sued by stockholders for fraud in overstating the value of the company.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • 24HCC

      Check out the new Rolling Stone. It nails Romney's tax fraud. Great piece.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  18. J R Brown

    I'd just like to point out one small thing of which CNN seems completely unaware....a Christian is a person who follows the teachings of Christ.

    Jesus isn't "progressive".

    As an atheist, it infuriates me when people use non-sensical arguments to further their agendas regarding religion....this nonsense that Obama is "leading" Christianity into a new era of "progressivisim" is just absolute garbage.

    What it tells me is that "progressives" are still very much insecure in their own ideology in that they must try to hijack and corrupt one ideology to further their own.

    Jesus never taught that human rights exist. Jesus never taught that civil rights exist. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God exists and that ALL believers are to judge every action they take in the light that they will be held accountable to God's laws and expectations, not the laws of the United States. Linking "progressivism" with Christianity demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of what Christianity actually is.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      Your argument fails in that you seem to be making the assumption of their only being 1 interpretation of jesus, which we know is not true by the existance of all the various factions and cults that have sprung up.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  19. Imaginary Skydaddy

    What defines a real christian? Hypocritical, closed-minded, irrational? So basically, a republican?

    October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • J R Brown

      You are doing your "side" of the issue no favors by showing your ass....

      October 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  20. maestra730

    Barack Obama is NOT a Christian. He is a Muslim. He refused to attend the National Day of Prayer the first year he was in office but yet established an annual Ramadan dinner at the White House "to honor the sacrifices of Muslim Americans." He has stated that "the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation." He needs to pack up his prayer rugs and get out.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      "No longer"? Try "never was"!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Your name is a lie, maestra.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • midwest rail

      Another delusional fundiot chimes in with his "wisdom" – you folks are priceless.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Wow

      You are a nut job.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      "He refused to attend the National Day of Prayer the first year he was in office "

      he didnt refuse to attend anything, he just choose not to host an official event at the white house, something only Bush jnr has ever done anyway. Obama however did state his support for the day when a judge ruled it was unconsti-tutional.

      "but yet established an annual Ramadan dinner at the White House "to honor the sacrifices of Muslim Americans."

      actually clinton hosted the first ramadan dinner in the white house, and bush jnr continued it, and Obama hosts that dinner in the same way he also hosts jewish seders at the white house.

      "He has stated that "the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation."

      he said no longer JUST a christian nation, and went on to say there are multiple religions in the US.

      If you want to moan about Obama then at least do it honestly and not spout bull to try to justify it.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • nottolate

      @maestra730

      "but yet established an annual Ramadan dinner at the White House"

      Obama didn't establish that. Bush use to hold those dinners too which should have outraged every American. In that Bush also demonstrated he was no authentic Christian as many were led to believe.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:20 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.