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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. bwooster

    So, the Tea Party wants to paint our president as a "wrong kind of Christian" (because he's too Christ-like, and I say that as an atheist), but Mitt Romney is OK with them, even though Mormons are all "God's so busy pumping out 'spirit babies' with his wives that they can't baptize humans fast enough to give them, er, bodies..."? Religion, shmeligion.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • JM

      Pure hypocrisy.

      As Jesus said, be on your guard against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (i.e., modern-day Republicans); they don't practice what they preach. They definitely don't practice what he preached.

      It's astonishing how clueless (wrong) they are.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  2. ROMNEY AND PAUL + GREED and HATE

    SHAME ON CNN!
    How about ROMNEY and MORMONISIM?

    October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Simon

      Romney is not lying about his faith or any of his past with his faith. Now lets talk about Jeremiah Wright who damns America and was Obama's pastor for twenty years!!!!!!!!! Obama is the master of smoke and mirrors....he is a Islamist who regards the teachings of Jesus.....plain and simple

      October 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  3. jj

    "For some Obama's actions are not christians because he is sending drone attacks on Afganistan...."???? Bush started war in Iraq and Afganistan killing thousands,does that mean he not Christian either???? Rubbish article not sure why you need to put this on your weekend cover edition in the awake of an election ..i smell some other motive by cnn what a bias....

    October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  4. SugarKube

    Communism is not Christianity

    October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Fundiots are so cute when they foam at the mouth.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  5. Carl

    Being a preacher in a church doesn't make you a Christian either.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Guest

      You couldn't have said it better Carl. Its your heart and the life you lead.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  6. someonewithabrain

    Obama is the president, not a religious leader. I vote for him because he has the intelligence to lead us into the future. I do not vote for politicians who cannot think for themselves. I do not want a leader who is going to hold up some religious book and say that he is guided by something written thousands of years ago by average men pretending to have connections to some god.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • SugarKube

      But..but... Obamaer says he Is a Christan.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  7. The Hard Truth is

    “In Indonesia, I spent two years`at a Muslim school and two years at a Catholic school.”
    ”In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I would pretend
    to close my eyes , then peek around the the room. Nothing happened.
    No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and thirty brown children, muttering words.”…Barack Obama

    October 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Luke

      And?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • BenReal

      I was recently in a church with my father. Unwilling ill add. And as these 100 people bent to their knees to say prayer. I watches as at least half of them were fast asleep.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  8. Walter Starr

    SHAME ON CNN for this biased article on their front page. You will NOT speak a word about the religious beliefs of Romney, yet you publish this piece of garbage? SHAME SHAME SHAME!

    October 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  9. Amr Azim

    Obama is the 'wrong' kind of Christian? Not really. But you have to know that he has Muslim blood too from his Father.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      And here I thought religion wasn't genetic.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • JM

      God doesn't have any grandchildren. Christianity isn't passed down from person to person. It's a personal choice.

      If one is German, that doesn't make one a Nazi. If one is Italian, that doesn't make one a Fascist. If one is Russian, that doesn't make one a communist.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  10. Greg C.

    I wish CNN would quit trying to masquerade as a journalistic organization that embraces religion and religious tolerance. It clearly is divisive and given the lack of journalistic integrity most people already know your real intent. After this election, I expect your organization to really see a drop off in viewer support.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • David

      ...starting with you. Today.
      Look, if you don't like CNN, it's so easy to walk away. And yet, here you are.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  11. Theseeker

    Now I lay me down to sleep just like all the rest of my peeps, and if I should awake I pray to Obama my soul and everything else to take. I am not worthy to speak his name because I work to prosper and want to keep what I gain, forgiven me lord Obama, forgive us all.
    All hail the lord our savoir Barack Hussein Obama, He will deliver us from the Evil capitalist empire that oppresses Those who believe in him. He is the Christ! Kneel and pry for his forgiveness!

    October 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Theseeker" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • David

      ...please, don't write any more poems. Or reproduce. Thanks.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • LMC

      TheSeeKer: Are you an idiot?

      October 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Simon

    Ummm....excuse me, is everyone here forgetting JEREMIAH WRIGHT!!! Obama attended his anti-american services for TWENTY YEARS!!! Only when Jeremiah was caught on tape – damning America.....did Obama disown him.......Obama regards the teachings of Jesus, like all good Islamists do....

    October 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Simon" degenerates to:
      Theseeker degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Worchui

      Friday afternoon in an irienvtew in his West Wing office, adding: “Obviously, you can’t solve problems overnight. But what you can do is signal a sense of motion, a sense of ferment and activity and direction. And I think that he is doing that.”Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama was something of a political Rorschach test; he was not required to make tough executive decisions, and so people could see in him what they wanted. His first few days as president, though, have given the first hints of how he will run his administration.“I think you will see a presidency that’s less about hard-core ideology, and more about setting bold strategic objectives and setting out how we are going to get there,” said John D. Podesta, who ran Mr. Obama’s transition.Already, that has given rise to some contradictions.On his first full day in office, Mr. Obama declared that his administration would place a high priority on openness and transparency. Yet the first official White House briefing was given by two senior aides who, in the time-honored way of Washington, demanded anonymity.At the same time, the Obama team made no apologies for the president’s willingness to make an exception to his tough anti-lobbying rules for William J. Lynn III, a military industry lobbyist who is the president’s pick for deputy secretary of defense. That exception drew sharp questions late Friday from Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election and someone the president has sought to make an ally.Senator Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and a close friend of Mr. Obama’s, said the move suggested the president was willing to take a few lumps if he thought he was right.“He obviously needed and wanted this man,” Mr. Durbin said, “because he knew the critics would say, ‘What are you doing here? You established a rule and you changed it.’ ”And while as a candidate Mr. Obama had tough criticism for the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation tactics, President Obama left himself some wiggle room in overturning that policy, by deferring a decision on whether some techniques should remain secret to keep Al Qaeda from training to resist them.“I think it emphasizes a realist, a pragmatist, someone who is not on a strictly political or ideological exercise,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who is close to the president. “It underscores what I think is part of his leadership style, which is that there has to be some flexibility — a firm principle but a flexible application.”Yet one man’s flexibility is another man’s wishy-washiness, and Mr. Obama’s willingness to adapt carries the risk that he will either alienate his liberal base or fail to convert Republicans whose support he hopes to win. During his transition, Mr. Obama managed to charm conservatives; he wooed them at one dinner honoring Mr. McCain, and at another at the home of the columnist George F. Will.But just days into the Obama presidency, some conservatives sound wary.“I thought he did very well during the transition on things like the dinner with George Will, and all the words sounded good,” said Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House. “But I think they are right at the cusp of either sliding down into a world where their words have no meaning or having to follow up their words with real behavior.”Mr. Obama came into office with a clear set of objectives for his first week, advisers said. He wanted to convey a sense that he was moving quickly to make good on campaign pledges, while at the same time establishing realistic expectations for what he could achieve. “He wanted to show that an activist president could get the ball rolling right away,” Mr. Podesta said.Many Democrats, and even some Republicans, say he succeeded. “He is creating an image that he is making something happen,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.But in the coming weeks, Mr. Obama will have to do more than create an image; he will in fact have to make something happen — most immediately, an economic stimulus package with bipartisan support, as promised. His ability to bring Democrats and Republicans together will be the first major test of his presidency.That test began Friday, in the White House Roosevelt Room, where Mr. Obama tried to bring House Republicans on board, despite their fundamental differences on tax policy for low-wage workers.“I said to him straight up, ‘I think your electoral success was largely based on the hope that you could deliver change to the way Washington works,’ ” said Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican whip. He said he had told Mr. Obama pointedly that he would lose Republican support unless House Democrats were willing to make some changes in the bill.The president listened intently, Mr. Cantor said, giving little hint of how he planned to square that circle. Reply

      November 10, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  13. Fred

    No religion is better than another. Jesus was a man who was made into a myth, and Mormonism is the kookiest of all Christian religions. It's comforting to know that this country would never elect a Mormon as President.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Arlen

      Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. No man cometh to the Father but by me." I know 99.9% of the people reading this do not believe that, but that does not make it any less real. Feel free NOT to believe it, but before you do, you should check out WHY He said it.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Richard Smith

      Fred, you may be proven wrong come election day, because America just might elect a Mormon. As for your assertion that Mormonism is the kookiest rligion of all? I strongly disagree. The religion that condones (encourages, even) beheading "infidels" gets my vote.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • cwhite8406

      I'm completely against Mitt Romney but it's not his Mormom religion that makes him unfit to be president. It's his 1920's view of America, unclear policies, and indecisiveness that makes him unfit.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  14. Rae

    No, he's the wrong COLOR for many bigot Americans... Who also think he's Muslim. Obama could be Jesus Christ himself and he still wouldn't be the "right" Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Gsgofer

      I wonder if maybe Jesus had darker skin than Obama. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • chuck

      Good point Rae. To some if you are not white, or look white there is no way you could be Jesus Christ. For all they knows he could be pink, and once they gets to Heaven (if they makes it) it will be their nightmare to find out. It makes me wonder when I see those who look down on other's but yet they claim to be christians.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Dee Ambrosini

      Well, Jesus came from the middle east. Where most people have skin that is a lovely shade of brown. Highly unlikely he'd be a six-foot tall, blond with blue eyes!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  15. Jonah

    I am tired of hearing "feed the poor, feed the poor". I have read the New Testament many times and never once did Christ preach to feed the poor. Christ instead seemed quite annoyed at his disciple's and followers constant preoccupation with bread. After feeding the 5000 in John 5, he went to the other side of the sea where some men found him who had been in the congregation the day before. He said, "26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
    27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (New Testament, John, Chapter 6)

    He was essentially saying that bread was nothing. He could produce it at will. He taught people to instead labor for that everlasting water and bread which is faith in Jesus Christ, because once you have faith in Christ and can get miracles when you really need them, once you keep the commandments which keep you out of trouble, once you are honest and put in an honest days work and are successful in business, then you never thirst or hunger again. Jesus taught self-reliance and faith in Jesus Christ which is the foundation of the welfare plan of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is real christianity!

    Christ never taught "feed the poor". That plan never works because it encourages the dole and doesn't lift the individual and it is not a permanent solution to that person's problems. 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (New Testament, John, Chapter 4).

    October 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      October 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

      October 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • == o ==

      Well of course you would not know much about Christ, since you are a MORmON, Johah. duh....

      October 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Jonah

      Good point, Living In, but I think I also made a good point. I believe this means temporary help such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives in its welfare program, but after teach self-reliance to restore the individual to self confidence.

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

      "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

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

      Deuteronomy 15:11
      There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

      Psalm 82:3-4
      Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

      Proverbs 14:31
      He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

      Proverbs 29:7
      The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern
      You need more?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • rubywyld

      Jonah, go read your Bible.. NOW! There are many MANY passages throughout the Bible preaching about how feeding and giving to the poor, the hungry and the afflicted is righteous and proper thing to do. Not in the Bible.... Jesus and God himself (based on you know, their own words.. in the Bible) ... must be very disappointed in you.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Jonah

      Once again, a very good point, Living In. Once again, Christ also said what I wrote in my post. May I propose, that christ taught both concepts?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Dee Ambrosini

      Wow, that is one frightening interpretation. Thanks for the Mormon insight. Now we know what to expect from a Romney presidency, administration, and supreme court. Scary stuff.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • calmncool

      "....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 mortibund religion awaiting burial." Martin Luther King, Jr.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jo

      Um, Matthew 25? "I was hungry, and you fed me." Feeding the hungry and helping the homeless isn't some weird "social" Gospel. It's the direct word of Jesus. He told us it's the absolute requirement for entering His Kingdom.

      So shame on CNN for using the word "wrong" in the headline. The President's Christianity might be "unfashionable," because it is the fashion now to ignore the direct Word whenever it gets a little hard to follow. (Remember the young man who turned his back on Jesus rather than sell what he had "and give it to the poor?") But to feed the poor and help the homeless is definitely on the good Christian's to-do list.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jonah

      Dee, thanks for the admonishment but I can see you did not really understand what I said. What I said goes beyond, "give a man a fish". What I am saying is we should also "teach the man to fish" so that he can provide for himself permanently.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  16. Dee Ambrosini

    Hmmmmm. And Mr. Romney? What type of Christian is he? Many would argue that Mormonism isn't christianity at all. Yet the evangelicals have embraced him. I've never heard him refer to himself as "born again" either. I think there's something more here than meets the eye. And I have found that many so-called "christian" people have much hatred in their hearts towards our President. Maybe someone should write an article about that. Yes, about how Jesus talked alot about love and tolerance and healing the sick...but not so much about hate, right???

    October 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  17. JM

    He's the most Christian man that I've seen besides my own father.

    Unfortunately, most so-called Christians don't bother actually reading the Bible. They go to church faithfully (cultishly). They gather with others who think exactly as they do. Many could care less about Jesus's teaching, which is radical, self-sacrificial and loving. HE was the son of God; He came to this world as a helpless poor human baby; he grew up unknown, not seeking worldly riches; he came to die (to pay the penalty for the sins of humans so that they wouldn't have to). Now, in complete contrast (anti that), most "Republican Christians" freak out if anyone thinks that they should help the poor, they hate the poor and non-white people, they think that they are better than most other people in this country. They flock to the movie 2016 (full-on propaganda put out by a con artist who took their money to fund his affair). They follow any liar who tells them that they are better than others and seem to believe that Jesus taught hate, self-centeredness, and told them to emulate people like Trump and Romney who care about no one else and will say whatever they have to say to get what they want.

    That's straight from the pit of hell.

    If anyone is anti Christ, it's Romney and the current Republican party.

    Read the Bible, The TRUTH shall set you free.

    Obama is God's man preaching the trurth.

    The right? Pharisees through and through.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • matt houston

      I am not religious in any sense...but the GOP seems to engender Luciferian qualities...much more so than other parties.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • LMC

      The saying dates me, but Right On!

      October 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Joe

      JM, you are grossly deceived and you stereotype almost beyond imagination. Your words prove you have been manipulated by the false talking points of the left-wing media. It's no wonder why you can't even spell the word "truth."

      October 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  18. Caihlyn

    Regardless of faith or brand of religion, caring for one another will never go out of style.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  19. petemg

    If Obama were a Christian why did he state this is not a Christian nation. Why did he not recognize the world day of prayer but he recognize the Muslim holy day and invite them to the White House. Obama is one who is trying to redefine Christianity to his satisfaction as he does everything un Christian. He once commented that he had discovered and became Christian because it would satisfy him. One either is or is not a Christian. When one is a Christian they realize they will be ridiculed by others. Obama appears to be a Christian so that he will fit in with Christians. He also appears to be Muslim to satisfy the Muslims. A person cannot be Christian without giving their life to God the Almighty. I am not saying a thing bad against Muslim religion because that decision is between the Creator and the Created. All people must be careful as Obama tries to redefine his beliefs. Obama is either Christian or he is Muslim. He has to make a decision and deal with it. Many people look to Obama as a Messiah. Are people willing to bet their eternity on it. God the Creator is in control and He is watching.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Tyrone Schenectady,Ny

      Amongst believers there is no issue with wishing them well for a religious event. During Easter and Passover Muslims wish no ill will on Christians. Muslims eat kosher food as it from people of the book. All are followers of the Religion of Abraham, but one thing for sure Obama is no muslim and God blessed me to be one.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Thepacific

      Please. If this is a xian nation, we are working our best to make sure it ain't. It's a multiculture nation. We have people worship talking snakes, flying horses, and best of all the Koch brother. Religion is just another necessary "face" to win a seat. The reality is god nowhere to be found and votes are easily bought with money along with lies. Americans should be independent from all religions and political parties _ those things are toxic and likely lead to fanaticism. My advice? Do your own research, study, and thinking, vote for those you know best among the lesser evil for now. Be a smart compassion voter!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  20. Theseeker

    Now I lay me down to sleep just like all the rest of my peeps, and if I should awake I pray to Obama my soul and everything else to take. I am not worthy to speak his name because I work to prosper and want to keep what I gain, forgiven me lord Obama, forgive us all.
    All hail the lord our savoir Barack Hussein Obama, He will deliver us from the Evil capitalist empire that oppresses Those who believe in him. He is the Christ! Kneel and pry for his forgiveness!

    October 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • matt houston

      Do you actually think that a person's religion makes him/her automatically a good person? Good luck explaining that one to all the people who've been robbed by evangelical preachers, all the kids who've been molested by priests and all the citizens who lost their savings to "good Christian men" running huge corporations, banks and Wall Street.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Thepacific

      Good grip, your god must be an evil v-empire. how on earth a god would have created a fellow with such small brain like yours?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
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About this blog

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.