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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. Peter Trainor

    SO what kind of Christians are Bush and Cheney who invaded Iraq for not reason at all and with not ties to 911, OBL or had WMD and along the way killed over 200,000 innocent Iraqi babies, women and men? And over 20K of our wonderful and valiant blue collard GIs soldiers. I would say that is Crimes Against Humanity same as Hitler. So who wants to be Christians like that? NAYYYYY.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Bush and Cheney had God on their side. God is a evil myth. Prove me wrong.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Smoii

      Pretty good example, of a stupid reasoning. Assume that Bush & Cheyney are evil, how does that make Obama less evil? Bush & Cheyney are just the foul mouth rednecks to some extends, that pushes the people away if they don't like. Obama has the tongue of a poisonous snake, it pulles people closer before sinking its venom into their flesh, and for many kool-aid drinking, peanut heads they actually think it is really cool to have such a snake around their neck. Coooooool!

      October 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Smoii

      Pretty good example, of a stupid reasoning. Assume that Bush & Cheyney are evil, how does that make Obama less evil? Bush & Cheyney are just the foul mouth rednecks to some extends, that pushes the people away if they don't like. Obama has the tongue of a poisonous snake, it pulles people closer before sinking its venom into their flesh, and for many kool-aid drinking, peanut heads they actually think it is really cool to have such a snake around their necks. Coooooool!

      October 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  2. All men

    Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  3. Smoii

    I have never been sure there's hell or heaven, but after 4 years with Obama, I think there must be hell for the Christians like Obama. So yes, Obama is Christian, just in the wrong side, the hell side.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Thanks you Smoii who knows what God is thinking.... NOT!

      October 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • GAW

      What a nice Troll. We love you very much.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Peter Trainor

      And Bush and Cheney who killed over 200,000 innocent Iraqi babies, women and men for no reason at all? And over 20K of our wonderful and valiant blue collard GIs soldiers. I would say that is Crimes Against Humanity same as Hitler. So who wants to be Christians like that?

      October 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • J2

      He's going to be getting a 'well done, good and faithful servant' when he gets to heaven.

      Romney? God only knows.

      19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

      22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

      25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

      27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

      29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

      30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

      31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

      October 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  4. Timus

    I think even the most conservative Christian are cherry picking want they want from the bible. Otherwise they would realize that they are acting more like the Pharisees(self righteous, legalistic and judgmental) and less like Christ.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • J2

      I don't think many of them actually read the Bible. They get their preachin' from Fox News.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  5. a different Dan

    Why would any Christian follow or an anti Christ lead? Because he appears likable and has a clever tongue; a clever con
    man. Everyone running for office with a costly team telling them what to promise each and every group fits that description. And their followers are greedy, self centered, misled idiots, all of us. Jesus was a demonstration of what God would be like as a man. He did not have to buy health insurance; he was and is health insurance. He did not need health care he cared for his own health. We can do the same but do not because we do not recognize the anti Christ that is leading us; the merchants of this world. In the coming Kingdom of God "the merchants of this world will gnash their teeth" everyone else will be happy.
    That sounds to me like Jesus who will rule it is against them because they are against him.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Not all Christians believe what you do.

      So when 3 year olds die of cancer it's because they aren't taking care of their own health? If only they believed they would have been cured?

      October 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  6. libtards are just libtards

    John Blake-It will behove you to focus on your faith first and see where you honestly stand before Almighty God before writing about the faith of others.
    In other words; epic fail!!!

    October 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • GAW

      Then you read World Magazine and not CNN Silly

      October 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Elise B

    What is wrong with people? Obama not the "right" type of Christian? Obama the Anti-Christ? What does all of this even mean?! My prayer is that God heals our divided and fractured -no BROKEN- country.

    By the way, since when did Mormonism become the right type of Christianity? I'm so perplexed...

    October 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • GAW

      That's it you are perplexed and confused.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • J2

      Well, the Bible says Satan's the father of lies and the right are spewing/believing lies like it's the truth so I guess they are following "their father" as Jesus said they would.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Margaret

      Since Billy Graham said it was no longer considered a cult, since conservative Christians have banded together to get rid of Obama. Some Christians still believe it is a cult.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Beadles

      Elise – Mormonism is acceptable to the *right kind* of Christians (Billy Graham, et al) if it will get that *uppity colored* out of our White House. This type of bigotry and hatred is what drove me from organized religion.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  8. Planned Parenthood Does Not Do Mammograms, Only provides Referrals

    Planned Parenthood Does Not Do Mammograms, Only provides Referrals. Obama lied during the 2nd debate saying that PP does the Mammograms onsite and that Romney would cut funding. Obama lies, one too many times for any Americans comfort. Mitt romney/ Paul Ryan 2012 for President. For a strong economy and a stron family, back to the basics to a brighter future for our Children!

    October 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • J2

      Mitt Romney lies like it's his native language and yet you follow him blindly?

      Republicans following any lying pied piper.

      Like Dinesh D'Souza, the guy who created their favorite propaganda, 2016. Of course, he had to resign this week because of his 'family values'.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      The Planned Parenthood here does. Many smaller ones don't.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Margaret

      It depends on where the Planned Parenthood is located, there are some who do have the equipment, unfortunately not enough. Given the number of women without access to healthcare, we need more clinics not less. They do breast exams and if they find a lump they, like any clinic refer people to a place that does mammograms.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Your children have no future.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Rev. Delores Loving

    Please think about Our President Obama as a godly person with family values.Judge not, remember. Heal thyself,remember The Black Church has always been at odds with the historically understanding.Who were the slaves ? Answer the question and you know why the Black Church was always separated but not necessarily equal.The Gospel is one thing but the politics of Churches is another.Love thy neighbor .You finish the sentences and see what is the outcome.This is not a test ,just a stark observation.in Black history.God Bless President Obama and Family.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The Devil appears as a Lord of Light.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  10. Frank

    Who is the most powerful muslim leader in the world today? Obama. Muslim sympathizer is what the progressive crowd now labels as "progressive Christian", LOL. Hmm... it really will be nice to have a credible president sitting in the oval office again, instead of a 3rd rate. two bit hustler. President Romney is the better man. There is no other choice. Obama and the CNN groupies cannot defend his dismal record so they go on the attack. Too bad the majority of Americans woke up. The emperor is naked and most see Barry for the poseur he is. He had his chance and he blew it big time. At least now he can go back to attending Rev.Wright's sermons again, since there is no political downside. Hey hey hey goodbye.... Learn the lyrics, lefty Obama groupies, LOL. Barry Sotero is history! He will be voted out and not even CNN can save your hero.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • BYRON

      AMEN!!

      October 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • GAW

      Get back to reading your Ann Coulter books you.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Frank, people like you are destroying this country. You don't get to make up facts and call them real. Making up facts and calling them real just makes you an obvious liar. Try embracing the truth, even if it isn't what you want to believe. It will make you a better person.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Frank, you idiocy is showing.
      October 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • lee

      are you really this ignorant?

      October 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • embarrassed

      I can't believe people like you still exist. If that's not a sign that there is no god, I don't know what is.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  11. Mick

    When will the madness end. Religion is a cult. It divides societies and incites murder. People willing to die and kill for a religion cannot be sane. Defending a religious belief cannot be sane. Civility, peace and harmony are the values people should teach their children. Religious affiliation or belief is meaningless to those of us who can live peacefully with each other without it. Think about it. Religious organizations thrive and prosper from the contributions of others as long as they continue to drive the division of belief into our societies.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      "There are those who say I have come to bring peace; I come not to bring peace, but a sword, to turn brother against brother and father against son." Do you get Christianity now?

      October 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • GAW

      Dream On!!! Human beings will kill and divide whether they have religion or not.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Fatherhood, Motherhood. Sisterhood, Brotherhood. Are they cults too?

      October 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mick

      GAW, it appears you were brought up in an environment of violence that you want to perpetuate. How sad.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  12. Marty in MA

    I think he is the RIGHT kind of Christian. Let's update religion to where mythology now is.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  13. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Our bodies are merely but buildings housing God and God's servants and families. 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

    We live in a material quagmire

    October 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      You are going to hell.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  14. mama k

    "Wrong kind of Christian" is probably a phrase that was being used a lot when the country was founded. Differing Christian sects were feuding and persecuting each other around the time of the formation of the U.S. government. Also Deism was popular and had strongly influenced the great thinkers of the day including many of the key founders.

    Because the feuding between Christian sects annoyed our founders so greatly, it should be no surprise that the key founders had an immediate need for the separation of church and state (and to make it Amendment #1). This is also reflected in what some of the key founders had to say on the matter:

    James Madison (our 4th President, was the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785)

    and then ten years later:

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795)

    Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd President, was the key author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

    (Letter (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808))

    and then of course we have clarifying moments in history such as:

    President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    (from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797)

    Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you for posting this. It's sad to see how far America has fallen from this wise beginning. It's also sad that this nation is becoming exactly what the Founding Fathers so deliberately opposed.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  15. Dave Harris

    Republicans always try to hijack religion to serve their twisted purposes, usually to hate or persecute somebody. It's this sort of self-serving perversion of Christianity that's causing so many people to turn away from religion in general. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      I don't think you can blame Republicans for the Democratic Party electing a non-Christian.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  16. JOy

    typical Right Wing so called Christians, trying to stop the flow of information. What is wrong with you people!

    October 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  17. LivinginVA

    Wow. I've seen about a dozen posts claiming that this article is an example of how CNN is nothing but a mouthpiece for the Obama campaign and about the same number claiming that shows support for Romney.

    Given that people can read (?) the same short article and come up with such different conclusions, is it any wonder that people whose faith comes from the Bible can have such a wide range of ideas of what "Christians" believe?

    October 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • george

      We let our prejudices and per-judgments tell us how to think. We read a verse and translate it the way we want it to be meant. When it comes to treating the poor and sick, Jesus is as far away as possible from today's Republican. I said Republican not conservative because we don't have many conservatives in politic since President Eisenhower.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  18. Michael

    The Christianity of conservatives:

    Jesus says:
    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

    Conseratives say:
    "Fry the ****er, even if there's a good chance he might be innocent! We must set an example."

    Jesus says:
    "You can not serve both God and money."

    Conservatives say:
    "Then I will serve money while giving lip service to God."

    Jesus says:
    "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    Conservatives say:
    "Sounds like a technicality. I'll just have a giant needle constructed and have the eye placed over the camel route. Now it's easy for rich people to get into heaven, right?"

    Jesus says:
    "And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

    Conservatives say:
    "Get thee behind me, socialist!"

    Jesus:
    "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

    Conservatives say:
    "This guy is such a bleeding heart libtard. I'm going the 'hate your enemy' route because it's the one that actually make sense!"

    Jesus says:
    "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

    Conservatives say:
    "Not only will I shout my prayers from the rooftops to be seen and heard by EVERYBODY, but I will demand that forced prayer be reinstated in the schools, and that any child, regardless of their religion, who doesn't say Christian prayers will be severely punished! Private prayer is for those who are ASHAMED! To hell with humility!"

    Jesus:
    "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

    Conservatives:
    "I will give to Caesar if he is a republican and the taxes go to republican causes... otherwise, forget it. And the more you talk about what God wants, the more I think I won't be giving him ANYTHING. He sounds like liberalism personified!"

    Jesus:
    "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him."

    Conservatives:
    "So you sit around and wash the feet of other men. Why am I not surprised? Disgusting! And yes, I AM better than the hired help, that's why they're the help and I'm the one paying them pocket change. I've heard enough from you, looney, I'm outta here."

    October 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Planned Parenthood Does Not Do Mammograms, Only provides Referrals

      You said all that to say this.....YOU ARE A STUPID AND IGNORANT FOOL!

      October 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  19. purplestikypunch

    Let's see... is he judgmental, heretical, hypocritical, uneducated, bigotrous, hateful, self-righteous, condescending, irrational, and painfully ignorant? All necessary qualities to be a true Christian!

    October 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      I have no right to claim someone else is or is not Christian. I will say, however, that I do not consider being judgmental, hateful, condescending, and so forth accurately represents how I see Christianity. The people I know who seem to the most Christian to me are people you don't even know are Christian – they simply live their lives as examples of Christ's love, donating time, money and energy to those less fortunate. If they do get involved in politics its to promote social justice.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    this article shows exactly how ignorant most christians are. christians had their time to lead - it was called the Dark Ages.

    October 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • sally

      how true

      October 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Gary

      The right has hijacked chrisianity like that Taliban has hijacked Islam. To me they are no different and they have perverted their religion into a force for hatred, evil and self-centered greed. They worship their god of the greenbacks and power and that is all.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • All men

      Well said.

      October 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.