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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).

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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. Dale

    YouTube Rev. Jeremiah Wright this guy married him and he went to his church for over 20 years.

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

      So if we someday find out YOUR pastor is a murderer, does that mean we get to assume you're one too? Just because you listen to someone doesn't mean you think the same way they do.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  2. magneticink

    The Son of God became the Son of man that the sons of men might become the sons of God.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  3. ruemorgue

    nice long rambling article ... amazing how much is written about nonsense.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  4. RobM

    I art holier then thou!!!!! Sinner!!!!!!! You christians are crazy.

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

      It's "than". Never fails. Trolls can't spell.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  5. Hotsake40

    I wouldn be shamed to be called a christian. Most of those people called themselves christian are hypocrites, liers like Romney. They are racist and intolerant to those who are different from them.

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

      If Jesus were alive today, they would reject him too (just like the Pharisees in the Bible) because he would call them out on their hypocrisy and would be hanging out with those they looked down on (just like the Pharisees of old).

      October 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • skysgirl

      I agree!

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

      There are plenty of good Christians – you just don't know because they don't throw it in your face. They are people who quietly go about their lives, donating time and money to help those less fortunate. Unfortunately, as with any group, the extremists are loud and get the attention.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  6. vince

    There's a lot of good information in this artcile and some excellent resources named to study more. It really somewhat amazing how literalists have sort of hijacked the christian faith. Instead of looking at the books of the old testament as a collection of myths and stories that were writen by multiple authors that were 'inspired' by the devine, these literalists try to make the writings be some kind of transcendant truth. The bible is full of contradictions and errors (starting in Genesis 1 and 2 - look at the differences in the two 'stories' of the order of mans creation vs creatures - Genesis 1 man came last, Genesis 2, man came first. The Bible is amazing piece of work and should continue to inspire but people who base their entire theology on a litteral reading are sadly deceiving themselves. And that's why it annoys me when Cass and others lay claim to what it means to be a Christiain in their narrow interpretation - they have no ground to stand on, accept the ground that their megachurch paid for...

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

      Can you quote the part of Genesis 2 which states man came first? I don't think I've ever seen that.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  7. NoWingNutsAllowed

    Tell me this isn't so?

    October 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Cookie44

    This article is just as full of it as Obama is. You either believe in the Bible or you don't. If you walk on the fence long enough, you are going to fall off.

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

      Hope you don't hurt yourself.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  9. John Geheran

    With all due respect, mr President, you are not the wrong kind of Chritian, but the worst. You are guilty of moral relativism when you hold up Islam as a belief system on a par with other religions of the world. Your misguided and misinformed remarks about Islam's role in the history of the US are the height of the absurd. Islam stands alone amongst all religions in that its sacred texts either command, condone or encourage violence, hatred and intolerance towards non-believers. As Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, once observed "This is Islam, an absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, a rotting corpse that poisons our lives". That about sums it up.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Beadles

      Read up on the Crusades.

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

      YOU are the one who HATES! OBAMA 2012

      October 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • bp

      This is your kind of Christian:

      “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter."
      “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so”
      – Adolf Hitler

      October 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Nigel

      Don't pay anymind to many of the responders to your opinion, they simply would LIKE you to be the same type of "Christian" who hates or promotes views such as that of Hitler. They are fools. They can spew their radical leftist talking points in continuous efforts to slander the purity of true Christianity, but in the end, the proof of your Christian belief is in your heart, your actions. It's silly to think so many youth feel that YOU are the hateful "radical" and attempt comparisons to Hitler simply because Hitler became an evil monster who was not a man of God in any sense. The proof is in the pudding as they say. Pay no attention to the hateful ones who attempt to tarnish your rightful belief.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jen

      Would you like me to start quoting Leviticus? Quite a bit of condoning of violence there, I'd think. Islam does not stand alone at all in that regard.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • calmncool

      What a burden it must be to be YOU.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • John Geheran

      Jen.....point taken. The difference is that Jews and Christians don't run around every day quoting the Bible to justify violence. The other difference is that the language used in the Qur'an and ahadith is proscriptive whereas the Bible is generally descriptive.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Jen

      John,

      The Muslims I know don't quote the Quran to justify violence daily, either. It's extremists that do. Just like the Christians that quoted the Bible when they blew up abortion clinics with people inside. Be careful how you generalize.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Jen

      By the way, "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" sound pretty proscriptive to me. Are you saying Moses brought down the Ten Suggestions?

      October 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • John Geheran

      Jen.....try to find this proscriptive exhortation in the Bible: "Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them".

      October 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • John Geheran

      Je....... Mercifully, the great majority of Muslims are peaceful choosing to ignore or are unaware of the 109 verses in the Qur'an that command or condone violent behavior. By most estimates between 10 & 15% of Muslims are radicalized. That's about equal to half the population of the US. In my book that is a legitimate "Housten, we have a problem".

      October 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • John Geheran

      Beadies........the Crusades were undertaken 400 years after Allah's armies began invading, destroying, raping, pillaging and plundering non-Muslim lands. Islam's northward expansion from a conquered Spain into France and Western Europe was halted with their defeat by the army led by Charles Martel in 732 at the battle of Tours. Islam's attempt to conquer Eastern Europe came to an end with their historic loss in the siege of Vienna in 1683. Bottom line, the Crusades, however flawed,were an exercise in self-defense.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Beadles

    “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.” Or, so says Pastor Cass. Well, sitting in a church or saying you are "born again" doesn't make you a Christian. These huge campuses are so terribly wrong – at least in my opinion. Being a Christian should be about your actions, esp. how you treat others. How can spending millions upon millions for a huge building and fancy conference facilities be justified when there are so many people in need?

    October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Nigel

      If enough people attend your garage, they are willing to pay for hopes they will become closer to the car. And that money belongs to the garage and the garage uses that money to help those needy people you speak of, and sometimes, many times in fact, it is necessary to expand that garage to accommodate the car people who are kind and believe in the Lord. It's what is in their hearts. Not all garages are full of all pure intentions, but most are and is evident through their actions.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • granny

      AMEN!!!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  11. Sally

    Anyone want to tackle Jeremiah Wright??? Obama's pastor for twenty years who damns America???????

    October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • John

      Obama wears a ring that says , All power to Allah.....does that say anything to us

      October 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @John

      Dam n ... I definitely need to see this "Muslim Ring." 8O

      Peace...

      October 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Jen

      Well, I can assume you listened to your parents for 18 or more years. Do YOU agree with EVERY OPINION they have? You must...you listened to them for so long, right?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • John Geheran

      Sally, Obama's association with Pastor Wright is consistent with his life-long alignment with advocates of Black Liberation Theology, Marxists and anarchists (Ayers et al). The recent and surprising article in Newsweek magazine says it all.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  12. Nigel

    The right kind of Christian who happens to be in a major position of leadership, one would think, would at least make his Christian practices known without blurring it so that so many people question his convictions (so many Christians of all people!). A Christian President would be firm on the atrocities done by radical terrorists, yet this president seems to take strides so as to brush them off (a distasteful and trite anti-Muslim film trailer caused the deaths of the Ambassador and 3 other Americans?). EVEN IF the cause of the Benghazi killings was JUST from a video hardly anyone saw, well it still is terrorism, and this president is scared to address that for SOME REASON. Terrorism by definition is use of violence to promote a political agenda or make such a statement? And that is, quite obviously, what happened. Yet masses are conditioned in the US to believe "otherwise" due to the softening statements of Sec. of State Clinton and the President himself. Why? It's the Christian thing to do? To allow your enemies to strengthen because you feel that if we just ignore them and emphasize our love for the larger "peaceful congregation" of Islam, that the smaller but more deadly "radical congregation" of Islam will in due time stop attacking us via terror?? No, I don't think the President is this naive, although he'd like you be that naive. There is a reason for the actions that we all witness the consequences of, and the right kind of Christian does not seem to be leading the free world in the right direction.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Jen

      Afraid to address terrorism? It was called a terrorist act, by him in the rose garden. What would you have him do, start a war? What does any of this have to do with Christianity, by the way? He's not blurring any lines. He's trying to live (and govern) in accordance with his beliefs, just like every other president. You're not talking about his religion here, you're re-hashing political arguments you've heard others recount because you're opposed to his PARTY and his re-election.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Nigel

      Jen you are incorrect. I am not opposed to his reelection. I am opposed to his policies and his actions. If he is reelected, that is the will of the people. You reap what you sow. Im not voting for his opponent either. I'm voting for God.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Jen

      Really Nigel, voting for God? I wasn't aware divine creators held elections.

      You're not voting at all, then. Pretty irresponsible if you really are opposed to his policies. And, by definition, you ARE opposed to his re-election on a personal level because you disagree with his policies. Stating that the people can elect whomever they choose does not make you unopposed. You're just abstaining. That is as much an act of protest and disagreement as voting for the other side. Congressional members do it all the time when say, they don't want a bill to pass, but are too cowardly to make that public record..

      October 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  13. Military Vet

    God Bless President Obama, the first true Christian President we've had in 30 years. He follows the teachings of Christ more closely than do the "Evangical Christians." He doesn't use his religion as a club, a billboard, or to alienate other people. He doesn't use Jesus as a wedge or put words in his mouth. He doesn't practice extreme doctrine. He leads by example and by faith, as a good father, good husband, good person, and good President. Many of the so called "Christians" commenting here are not really practicing the faith, they are using it to gain power and to spread a false doctrine. The extreme right doctrine is frightening to true Christians.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Scotchguard

      Having grown up in a "fundamentalist" Christian household, I can say the portrayal of them is spot on in this article. Many, many people have left religion altogether because the ideology of being judgmental, divisive, and stingy towards the poor is so off-putting and clearly NOT the behavior Jesus would have wanted in his followers. The win-at-any-cost mindset is so anathema to the teachings of Jesus, it's hard to believe fundamentalist Christians even read the Bible. And yes, Christians judge each other on whether or not they're "good" Christians, meaning "Does he believe what I believe and act like I act?" The fundamentalists should not have any more right to claim Christianity than any other Christian group. I admire Obama's faith-in-action and I believe America is far better for it. Thanks for this article. I think it will be enlightening to a lot of people.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  14. bp

    The rise of the Christian Right is primarily responsible for the dysfunction in American politics today. After all, they know without any shred of doubt that:

    1. They are on God's side and all others are not
    2. They know God's will and all others do not
    3. They are right to use the power of government to advance their vision of God's kingdom above all others here on earth
    4. Anyone who disagrees or opposes their ends is by definition against God
    5. You never compromise with, be civil to, or even consider the opinions of those agents of Satan

    Any questions? All Hail the Christian States of America.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      It's that exact same mentality that enables religious fundamentalists to shoot a teenage girl in Pakistan, and actually believe they are doing the right thing.

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

      You see this from an extreme viewpoint (overreaction). When U.S. was in it's stage of growth as a successful world power, which led to virtually EVERY man and woman of dreaming to make it there to live a dream, Christianity was ingrained into American culture, even if you did not practice or attend church, the family values and social tendencies toward helping brother and sister, we're more apart of U.S. society than they are today. Today it is shattered, NOT because of any power struggle involving Christian right to hold on to such "power", but it's shattered due to the RESISTANCE oand pushback of those who reject Christianity and its values. The evidence of this is everywhere. Look you'll see. See the schools, the entertainment culture, family values of today, corruption on both sides of the big parties, underage and promiscuity in general, lack of discipline due to fear of children, the goes on and on.

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

      I believe you have it right. To nigel, I remember a time when Christian children were taught that "We are not of this world, our kingdom is in heaven." Now they are taught that "We are right and everyone else is controlled by Satan, so it's our job to enforce how right we are on everyone else. If you're not with us, you don't matter and shouldn't have any rights." It's not the pushback - there has been a definite change in Christianity towards militancy.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • John Geheran

      At least Christian fundamentalists and orthodox Jews don't run around every day killing non-believers in the name of their God. Only one belief system does that, day-in, day-out.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  15. Aurora Chuck

    I seriously believe that he is a closet Muslim that uses Christianity as a front.

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

      Crazy much?

      Based on what?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • bp

      I seriously believe you are an idiot and a bigot.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Scotchguard

      You're probably still out looking for a birth certificate, too... sad.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jen

      And you base this "serious" belief on what facts, exactly?

      October 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  16. Tim Seaver

    Nice dog whistle ya got there CNN. What IS so DIFFERENT about this President? Gee, it's so hard to see where you are going with this...

    October 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  17. Jeb

    Mormonism is a crazy cult.

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

      I agree!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • John Geheran

      At least they don't run around killing non-believers in the name of their God. There is only one belief system that does that day-in, day-out.

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

      Throughout history, Christians have killed more "non-believers" in the process of trying to force their religion on others than any other religious group.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  18. mikeboyscout

    I find the headline of this article offensive.
    And parusing the comment thread I see it has brought out just the sort of crazy unhinged postings one would expect.
    If, for reasons I will never understand, you must publish such tripe as this article, could you not at least moderate the comment threads?

    Lastly, who was it who was quoted as saying "Let him without sin cast the first stone"?

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

      Wrong kind of Christian? Dunno... sure is the wrong kind of president though. Zing!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • skysgirl

      I agree!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @RobM

      " sure is the wrong kind of president though. Zing! "

      Right, good to know that half the country or more vehemently disagrees with you.

      Peace...

      October 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  19. Mary

    What an outrageous headline!! Are you now actively seeking the "birther" demographic? Totally irresponsible.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • skysgirl

      I agree!

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  20. MORmONS are too weird... it makes me want to go poopy!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HSlbuli7HM&w=640&h=390]

    October 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Tim Seaver

      "..those who chose to remain neutral in the battle were CURSED TO BE BORN WITH BLACK SKIN"

      ...But it's not like Mormons are racist or anything. Nope.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • == o ==

      They were in recent history – just watch the video. It used to be one of their main tenets. But they have become experts at adjusting very rapidly as soon as it is politically necessary to do so. Of course the whole cult is completely unfounded.

      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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.