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The Gospel according to Obama
President Obama is not just a racial trailblazer, but some say a religious pioneer as well. No president has ever shared his type of Christianity, historians say. Some say he may revive a form of Christianity that once dominated America.
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET

The Gospel according to Obama

By John Blake, CNN

President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.

When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”

The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:

“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”

Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.

When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life so much that it gave the nation its first megachurches, historians say.

“Barack Obama has referred to his faith more times than most presidents ever have, but for many it’s the wrong kind of faith,” says Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, an evangelical activist group based in Washington that focuses on poverty and social justice issues.

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“It is not the faith of the religious right. It’s about things that they don’t talk about. It’s about how the Bible is full of God’s clear instruction to care for the poor.”

Some see a 'different' kind of Christian

Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.

No other president has shared the hybrid faith that Obama displays, says Diana Butler Bass, a historian and author of “Christianity after Religion.”

“The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S.,” says Bass, a progressive Christian. “He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”

Some Christians, however, still see Obama as the “other.” He doesn’t act or talk like other Christians, says the Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

“I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity,” says Cass, pastor of Christ Church in San Diego.

Cass says he’s never heard Obama say he’s “born-again.” There’s no emotional conversion story to hang onto.

Obama talks about his faith and attends church, but Cass says that doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.

“Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. “You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.”

The origins of Obama’s faith

The suspicion about Obama’s faith may seem odd at first because he’s written and spoken so much about his spiritual evolution in his two autobiographies, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Other books, like “The Faith of Obama” by Stephen Mansfield, also explore Obama’s beliefs.

The 1925 “Monkey” trial of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher who taught evolution, drove fundamentalists underground, some say.

Mansfield says Obama is the first president who wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Obama’s mother was an atheist and his grandparents were religious skeptics (Obama’s family has challenged the description of his mother as an atheist. Obama called her “the most spiritually awakened” person he’d ever known, and his sister called their mother an agnostic).

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Mansfield called Obama’s boyhood a “religious swirl.  He was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, and strains of Hinduism and Buddhism while growing up in Indonesia during the 1960s.

“In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology,” Obama said in Mansfield’s book. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”

Obama became a Christian while he was a community organizer in Chicago. He joined a predominantly black United Church of Christ. The UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to officially support same-sex marriage in 2005.

Obama’s faith showed many of the elements of a liberal Protestant church: an emphasis on the separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the refusal to embrace a literal reading of the Bible.

In a 2006 speech before a Sojourners meeting, Obama talked about his approach to the Bible:

“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”

When many people think of Obama’s religious experience in Chicago, though, they cite his exposure to the angry sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “black liberation theology,” a movement that emerged in the late 1960s and blended the Social Gospel with the black power movement.

Bass, the church historian, says another black pastor shaped Obama’s theology more: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He attended liberal Protestant seminaries where he learned about the Social Gospel’s concern for the entire person, soul and body.

Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, seen here praying at Obama’s inauguration, but many still doubt his faith.

King once wrote that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them …is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

But King and the black church also fused the Social Gospel with an emotional fervor missing from white Protestant churches, Bass says. Other presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the Social Gospel, but they weren’t shaped by the black church.

“This is the first time we’re hearing the Social Gospel from the perspective of the black church from the Oval Office. It makes it warmer, more emotive, more communal," Bass says. "There is less fear of linking the Social Gospel with the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of Exodus and Jesus’ healings.”

The emphasis on community uplift - not individual attainment - may strike some Americans as socialist. But the emphasis on community is part of King’s “Beloved Community,” Bass says.

King once wrote that all people are caught up in an “inescapable network of mutuality… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”

“When I listen to Obama, I don’t hear communism, I hear the Beloved Community,” Bass says. “But a lot of white Americans don’t hear that because they never sat in those churches and heard it over and over again. It’s the whole theology that motivated MLK and the civil rights movement.”

Obama is not a Christian, some think

For some, Obama’s actions in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity.

Jesus was nonviolent. Obama has ramped up drone attacks in Afghanistan that have not only removed terrorists, but killed civilians.

The Bible talks about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Obama invoked Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule," Obama told ABC News during his announcement.

Jesus talked about helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health care law that taxed the rich to help the poor, some Christians argue.

But Wallis of Sojourners says Obama’s push for health care was a supreme example of Christian faith.

A situation where 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance is “a fundamental Christian problem,” Wallis says.

“Health is such a Gospel issue. Jesus was involved in healing all the time, and to have some people excluded from health care because they lack wealth is a fundamental Christian contradiction.”

Wallis has been one of the most persistent defenders of Obama’s faith. But no matter how much Scripture he and others cite, doubts about Obama’s faith have followed him throughout his political career.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once said that Obama distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible “to fit his own world, his own confused theology.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, publicly questioned Obama’s faith, then later apologized.

Conservative Christian books and websites are filled with stories of Obama allegedly trying to suppress the nation’s Christian heritage.

The Rev. Steven Andrew, author of “Making a Strong Nation,” says Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and he’s ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.

“That’s the most serious thing someone can do to a nation, trying to separate a nation from God,” he says. “He seems to be trying to change the Christian laws our Founding Fathers made.”

Andrew says Obama is actually an enemy of Christianity. In his book, Andrew argues that the Founding Fathers were Christians who created a “covenant Christian nation” and calls for a “national repentance.”

“I think he’s an anti-Christ,” Andrew says.  Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice isn’t Christianity.

Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism,” Cass says.

“Do I believe in caring for the poor and oppressed? Yes. But you don’t do it along the lines of communistic redistributing.”

Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights also disqualifies him from being a Christian, Cass says.

“It’s the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America.  On every social issue – the sanctity of life and of marriage between men and women – Obama is on the wrong side of every moral issue,” he says.

He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.

“No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible,” Cass says. “These progressives who say they’re Christians are liars. They’re using Christianity as a guise to advance their own agenda.”

Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.

“He’s conflicted,” Cass says. “He has Muslim sympathies from his upbringing."

How progressive Christianity lost the public square

There was a time when Obama’s brand of Christianity would have been understood by millions of Americans, historians say.

Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha leave church after attending a Sunday prayer service.

The Social Gospel and progressive Protestantism dominated the American religious square from the end of the 19th century up to the 1960s. At times, the traditions blended together so seamlessly that it was hard to tell the difference.

The Social Gospel rose out of the excesses of the Gilded Age in the 1880s, when urban poverty spread across America as immigrants crammed into filthy slums to work long hours in unsafe conditions.

Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor in a New York slum, urged the church to take “social sins” as seriously as they took individual vices. Churches began feeding the poor and fighting against other social ills.

“The notion that religious people should be about feeding the poor and helping the homeless is a carryover of the Social Gospel,” says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. The Social Gospel was adopted by many Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th century, says Bass, the church historian. Some of the Social Gospel churches grew popular because they provided the poor with everything from English classes to sewing instructions and basketball leagues.

“The first American megachurches were liberal, Social Gospel urban churches,” Bass says.

The Social Gospel, though, sparked a backlash from a group of pastors during World War I. They were called fundamentalists. They published a pamphlet listing the “fundamentals of the faith:” Biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Adam and Eve.

But the fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.

Though Scopes lost, fundamentalist Christians were mocked in the press as “anti-intellectual rubes,” and a number of states suspended pending legislation that would have made teaching evolution illegal, says David Felten, author of “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”

The trial drove fundamentalists underground where they created a subculture, their own media networks, seminaries and megachurches, he says.

That subculture thrives today, Felten says, and has infiltrated the political arena. It has created an “alternative intellectual universe” that denies science, rational thought – and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a Christian, Felten says.

“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve – so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felten says.

Progressive Christians eventually lost the messaging wars to this fundamentalist subculture, Bass says. Their nuanced view of faith couldn’t compete with the “spiritual triumphalism” of conservatives.

“If you get up and say we’re right and we have the truth, then you have a powerful public message,” she says. “They have a theological advantage in the public discourse. It’s comforting to have things clear, to have things black and white.”

The result today is that the Protestant tradition that shapes much of Obama’s Christianity is fading from public view.

The share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

White mainline Protestants make up only 15% of the nation’s population, the survey revealed. The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

Another generation of Christians, though, may bring a new version of progressive Christianity back.

The lines between younger conservative Christians and progressives are blurring, says Marcia Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Pally spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She says her research revealed that more than 60% of young evangelicals support more governmental programs to aid the needy, as well as more emphasis on economic justice and environmental protection issues.

“What’s interesting is that these values, associated with Obama and the black Protestant tradition are now also the values of a growing number of white evangelicals,” she says.

Her perspective suggests that Obama’s faith may be treated by history in two ways:

He could be seen as the last embodiment of a progressive version of Christianity that went obsolete.

Or he could be seen as a leader who helped resurrect a dying brand of Christianity for a new generation.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church • Courts • Creationism • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Evolution • evolvution • Faith • Fundamentalism • Gay marriage • Gay rights • God • History • Homosexuality • Interfaith issues • Obama • Protestant • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage • Schools • Science

soundoff (8,626 Responses)
  1. MrsBoomer

    The bible-thumpers are the single most destructive force in American society and politics.
    And CNN should be flogged for such nonsense.

    October 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  2. Frank

    How do you address the most powerful Muslim in the world? Mr. President. When a president cannot defend the dismal failure of his administration, he goes on the attack. It's too late though since the gig is up and he can't work his magic any longer. In each and every way, he has failed as president. Being a legitimate Christian is but another failure in a long list of failures; unless progressive equates with Muslim. Enjoy the last few days of your potus hero. He's on his way out and it couldn't come any sooner. President Romney.... get used to it, LOL. Not even CNN, ABC, or NBC can change the fact that the population sees him for the two bit used car salesman he is. I didn't mean to insult legitimate care salesmen, btw. La la la la, la la la la, hey hey hey, goodbye Hussein. Learn the lyrics, Obama groupies. They're simple enough for even you folks to get them right. La la la la, la la la la, hey hey hey, goodbye Barry, LOL. President Romney will fix things folks. Don't worry, soon enough you'll have jobs again and there won't be enough time to post your pro-Obama fantasies. Salvation is almost here. President Romney will get the job done :)

    October 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • MrsBoomer

      Here we have the poster-child for the willfully ignorant.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Observer

      Frank,

      If you had ANY PROOF that Obama is a Muslim, you would have presented it.

      Get real. Get serious.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • sally

      "two bit used car salesman" – well that would be Mittens, of course.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • pandorapie

      Thanks CNN – for reminding me why I stopped watching your biased corporatist news years ago! You are supposed to report news – not make it up!

      “Television is altering the meaning of “being informed” by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation… Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information – misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information – information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.”

      October 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  3. Kathleen

    How could someone who is following the practices that Jesus taught be the "wrong" kind of Christian? When in doubt, consult the words of Jesus as the Four Evangelists give them. For those who don't know the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, much of them sound remarkably like the Social Gospel.

    October 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Scott

      None of them talk about giving the state the massive amount of power that obama wants to give it.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What "massive amounts of power"? Such as?

      October 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • visitor

      you are confusing obama with reagan. I am guessing, St Reagan is AOK in your book of Christian goodness.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Scott, you keep lobbing accusations but you can't provide any concrete examples. Why is that?

      October 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  4. Adam

    "Wrong kind of Christian?" as opposed to the god that flew down his spaceship to America and said men should take multiple wives but only if wearing these magic pajamas (and only straight white men). We need to keep church and state separate, but since you bring it up, LDS is not a church, it is a cult. Anyone who is thinking about voting mitt, owes themselves and their country a look into the LDS before voting. Mitt has made it clear he will involve his religious views with politics. It is a very scary thought.

    October 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  5. Jarsbait

    Anyone who thinks the Christian Right's opposition to Obama is about faith or Obama's brand of Christianity is an idiot.

    October 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Adam

      If blacks be getting themselves a God, next thing they'll be asking for a soul. Can you imagine how crowded heaven would get. We must stop before it gets to far. Joke! If Obama is Muslim I have never seen him use his views in office, unlike mitt and rayn who admit their religion is the reason they want to change abortion laws. Our country says that no matter what your bible says you MUST keep church and state separate.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  6. just wondering

    He's Black, More Intelligent than most, and he's a Muslim to many..... IGNORANT, BIGOTED, FOOL'S

    October 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Bob

    Religion is for idiots.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  8. mike

    obama just as much murdered those americans in libya

    October 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Observer

      Bush sent ONE THOUSAND TIMES as many Americans to die in a war he started for false reasons.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • BH

      Every time Obama is criticized, some ignorant person says Bush did X. Bush has been out of office for nearly four years, so it's time to fall back on blaming bush to excuse away the horrible Obama Hussein Obama failures...too numerous to list here. The truth is Americans DO NOT have a good alternative to the two front runners for the most important job in our country. Americans are duped. Get ready for four more painful years, higher taxes, more government intrusion into our lives. It's just hopeless.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Observer

      BH,

      Everytime Bush is mentioned, some really ignorant person chooses to ignor that President Obama inherited two wars, loss of a half million jobs each month and a plummeting stock market.

      Keep up the fantasies.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • BH

      OK. Let's go ahead and accept the premise that Obama inherited all the problems you mentioned. Let's stop living in the past and ask What has Obama done to rebuild a robust economy....NOTHING....that's what he's done. In fact we are deeper in debt than in any other time in American history and there is NO hope in sight. So it's you who live in a fantasy if you think four more years of Obama is going to improve our future.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • visitor

      BH take a look at the stock market. Before Obama took over, that used to be used as a barometer of how strong the economy was. Remember? Remember that? BEFORE Obama?

      How many straight months of growth? I'll let you look that up.

      Before January 20, 2009 is all BO, Before Obama. Even if we ignore that FACT that Obama DID inherit the worst economy since the depression, AND two wars, if history started in 2009, his performance is spectacular.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  9. james

    I'm not sure what kind of faith the president has. Not many christians with his middle name. That being said I'm sure he means well bless his heart–

    October 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • J2

      This could possibly be the dumbest statement on here (and that's saying something).

      Apparently, according to the brilliant one James one has to be named Bob or Bill to be a Christian.

      Jesus? Middle Eastern name.

      Not to mention that most Christians took Christian names after their nations converted. Ireland a pagan nation until 1000 years ago. Our educational system is generating stupid people.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Tina

      Yes, bless his heart. He did not choose his middle name, it was given to him and that he can't change. How he lives his life now is what matters and all of the so called "Christians" continue to judge and ridicule a man because of his name and the color of his skin. That is not "christian". "The path to heaven is full of sinners and believers"...

      October 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • John

      Real Christians aren't racists. Bless your ignorant small mind.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • visitor

      Hey, Omar Bradley. American General..secret Muslim.

      October 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Mickey

      There seems to be not too many Christians either – historically, for sure.

      Today – well, if Christians can say that the Christians who murdered Jews who refused to convert were not true Christians, then where are these so-called true Christians who pray to an orthodox Jew?

      President Obama, btw, is not black. He is bi-racial.

      Romney in the office of president is beyond scary - I certainly do not want a Mormon country. That is what he wants. He said it is time for that to happen.

      Stop blaming President Obama for everything - he is not a dictator. He works for the People of the United States of America and has to deal with the fools that were elected into various offices of government who couldn't care less about anything or anyone but themselves.

      He is also an honorable human being – which is rare in the office of President!!!

      Also, stop voting for crap - the propositions that want more money so the schools can get more!! Good grief! What the hell happened to all the money from the lotteries that was supposed to go for education!

      Senators and Congress should NOT get anymore pay raises or extra benefits!!

      Find someone who will audit the Social Security System!! We have been duped by fools with glib tongues who made and make deals with each other for more and more in their own pockets.

      Reelect President Obama – or really suffer the consequences worse than you can imagine.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  10. BH

    Whatever kind of christian he is is completely up to him.. Our concern should be that he is the wrong kind of president. The last four years has been a terribly failed experiment. Let's move on.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Scott

      Can I get an amen to that?

      October 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • mama k

      Change that focuses on planning & vision for a population this size, and after inheriting such a terrible state of affairs, is not the kind of change that just occurs over night, and especially against a congress that is literally out to get you. Americans keep deluding themselves into thinking they can get a quick fix for just about anything. They need to wake up and realize how much they are busting out of their britches, how much leaner they need to be to compete in the world. Those kind of changes do not come quickly.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • J2

      No, the previous 8 years were a horrible experiment on how close we could take the nation towards hell.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Mkat2

      I don't think he's religious at all, probably Agnostic if not Atheist. Which is fine. Being 'religious' and/or a church member, is sort of a 'political requirement' to enhance their 'image'. I can criticize Obama for MANY things, but, I give him a pass on this one.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      Lower unemployment rates, ten straight quarters of economic recovery, rebounding stocks, equal pay for women, equal access to healthcare for all US citizens, support for civil rights equality across all demographics...that's what you call a "failed experiment?" So you want to go back to the "experiment" that began in 2000, which led to the recession we're suffering in right now? Give me a freaking break. You don't care about what's done to this country. You just don't like Obama.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • PishPoss903

      Yea to Romney, who will cause even more damage to the economy than BUSH! Great decision!

      October 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  11. Anne

    President Obama is my favourite kind of Christian. Honest, compassionate, and inclusive.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • J2

      Amen and amen.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      The only kind of Christian I honestly like. The others I grudgingly tolerate.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  12. John

    Mormonisn is DEFINATELY the wrong kind of christian, just look up the life history of its founder for a good laugh.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Mkat2

      No Sweetie..... YOU go read Mark Twain's, "Letters To The Earth" if you want a great laugh on how ludicrous 'Man' is about ALL religions!

      October 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  13. J2

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    October 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  14. Decency costs Nothing

    NO true Christian[Obama] or Catholic [Biden] supports Abortion! Period.

    I could call myself Jennifer Lopez – It wouldn't make me a beautiful Latina!!!!!!!!!

    October 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • J2

      Really? The guy on the cross next to Jesus was a murderer. Jesus told him that he would be with him in heaven that very day.

      David was a murderer. Moses was a murderer. Paul had seen to the persecution of the Christians before his conversion.

      Jesus said that to be angry with anyone was murder in God's eye and to look at someone lustfully was adultery.

      Since, if one actually believes in the Bible, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Scott

      I'll save everyone the trouble and kindly remind them No True Scotsman doesn't apply here – some who identifies as a Vegan but grills and eats steak every weekend isn't really a vegan, now are they.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Gwenie

      So you would rather support Romney who believes that we all are Gods and that God and Jesus himself were men who lived on the earth , and was married with a wife and children...That Jesus amd Luficer were brothers...That you baptise people once they're dead?....Who's the heretic here?....Surley not Obama...

      October 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • visitor

      Well Romney supported legal abortion as Guv of MA. Then he didn't. Now he is in the middle. Different answers for different audiences.

      October 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • visitor

      It is amazing that the true standard of being a Christian is the ability to get a government to govern what is inside a woman's body. If that is Christianity, I am proud to keep my daughter away from the zealots. Go join your Taliban friends.

      October 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Scott

    Jim Wallis and Sojouners interviewed in the article on Obama's religeous beliefs huh? What a coincidence...

    October 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  16. pntkl

    I would have a hard time accusing too many people, globally or locally, of being Christian. Faith without works is dead.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      Excellent post. God Bless you .

      October 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  17. Observer

    jonat,

    Give us a hateful statement Rev. Wright made.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      You mean the PUBLIC, hateful rants where he foamed at the mouth, calling Jews foul names? You know – the ones he had to PUBLICLY apologise for?
      Where the he!! were you?

      October 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Indecent, why is it you can't cite a single one or even quote any?

      October 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Scott

      Not God bless America, God DAMN America

      Look it up yourself, it ain't hard to find. The tape with him SAYING it has only been played on just about every conservative talk show.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then you should be able to post it here in context. In addition, you should be able to post every sermon your preacher ever gave so we can all do a fair comparison. After that, prove that anything Rev. Wright said resulted in one single decision Obama made.

      Idiot.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Scott

      Tom Tom I ain't here to do your homework for you. Many of the things Rev White said are publically acessable, as are many other pastor's sermons. You are perfectly capable of answering your own question.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If you can't prove it, then you lose. The onus is on you to provide evidence for your claims. If you can't, the debate is over and you lose.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Scott

      Well shoot, if you say the debates' over, then I guess it's over. Sorry, didn't realize we were invoking the Second Grade rule. First of all, what I said is something that Rev Wright said – it's on tape, and you can go on your internets and find it. Don't confuse me with anything anyone else clamined. There's also a bit in there about America's chickens coming home to roost from the same quote. In other words, Rev Wright says America sucks, and that's a common theme with him. It's called google. So consider that proved. Second, YOU are the one who challenged the authenticity of the Rev. Wright quote to begin with, so YOU prove that it doesn't exist.

      Yeah Tom, you won trying to make me prove your position. Enjoy your internets.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  18. Observer

    The reason that a lot of Christians dislike President Obama may be that he tries to follow the Golden Rule.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: as Jesus said, the Golden Rule was the SECOND greatest command...
      In order to actually follow the second, you have to be following the first.

      Obama is appealing to the second in order to trump the first. That's not following a religion. It's creating a new one.

      October 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      – Matthew 7:12 “Treat others as you want them to treat you. THIS IS WHAT THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ARE ALL ABOUT.”

      October 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: keep reading. Mt.22:37-40. Restated. The second is contingent on the first (unlike other religions).
      And what is love in this story? the Cross (Jn.15:13).
      And no other major religion claims "God is Love" (1 Jn.4:8).

      But Love is not whatever WE want it to be. It's a person.
      It's something He did. It's something He defines.
      Knowing love & showing it to others is all about knowing Jesus & sharing him.

      Per your point about all the law, check out Lk.24:27,44. All of the OT is about Jesus in his own estimation.
      It's not rules. It's a person – and what he did. That's love.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  19. jonat

    Attending Rev. Wrights church of 'Hate Whitie" isn't being a Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • J2

      Hate and racism define the white church in this country, now and historically.

      And the Republican party.

      October 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Scott

      No YOU'RE racist...really? How about a reasoned argument for a change. For every racist "white" church, I'll show you a "white" church that runs inner city programs, or sends missionaries with food and medicine to every corner of the earth. Talk about racism...

      October 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      Well said Scot! Kudos to you for the truth. [makes a nice change here]

      October 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  20. Lon Pardun

    Obama has also said he is a muslim...which is it.? A follower of Christ does not support killing babies, they support Israel (Gods Chosen) and whether or not they agree with someone they love them. I cannot vote for the current president for his beliefs. I don't care what color the candidate is. I pray for him just like I do any other political leader, but as an American I have the right not to vote for him.

    October 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • J2

      Speaking of killing babies, how many babies were killed in Iraq?

      Speaking of being 'pro life', how many non-aborted babies have American Christians adopted? If they practiced what they preached, there wouldn't be any kids in foster care.

      October 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • sally

      Why don't you give us a quote with a reference. Uh huh. I didn't think so...... Idiot.

      October 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      Oh, give me a break. You'll be voting for a candidate who "kills babies" no matter who has your vote. Admit it: You think it's fine to kill babies so long as those babies are brown, Muslim, and die by bombs or bullets instead of surgical instruments. Hypocrites like you make me feel ill.

      And just to clarify: Obama is not a Muslim.

      October 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Observer

      Lon,

      Obama NEVER said he was a Muslim. Do some research NEXT TIME so you won't make such an ignorant statement again.

      The Bible NEVER mentions abortion. Why not read it?

      October 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      Observer – the Bible says "Thou shalt not KILL" If you don't understand that get an adult to help!

      October 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      J2 – You're doing an Obama! This is about ABORTION – the systematic mutilation and murder of 53 of your OWN unique, never to be repeated human beings

      October 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, in fact, Indecent, it doesn't. The correct translation, according to most Bible scholars, is that the commandment says "Thou shalt not murder."

      Furthermore, the Ten Commandments have no bearing on law in a secular nation. None. There is no law that requires anyone to honor his parents, and no law that prohibits coveting one's neighbor's belongings.

      You can be against a woman's right to choose all you wish. If you are opposed to it, then don't ever, ever have an abortion. What you believe is not relevant to laws which protect the rights of women as equal citizens.

      Don't like it? Tough.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Observer

      Decency costs Nothing,

      The Bible says not to kill and then gives a LONG LIST of commands to kill people and then it says to kill anyone who kills anyone.

      Get some child to explain this to you.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The only one doing any avoiding here is you, Indecent. You haven't adopted any children who were given up, have you? You don't do anything to help the poor who have too many children to feed, are you? You can't be bothered about the children already born who have been killed in the wars Bush started, can you?

      The only thing you really are concerned about isn't even the fetus. What you really want to do is punish women because they get pregnant.

      October 21, 2012 at 4:14 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.