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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. sisquoc

    There is no such word as "predominately"; what you're looking for is "predominantly." Hire some competent proofreaders.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Neal Cassady

      Clearly you aren't competent to pick up a dictionary to learn that both "predominately" and "predominantly" are legitimate words. Good job buddy, quick to judge there, hire yourself a new brain.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  2. rskibins

    Since the United States is a secular nation, the religious issue is moot.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @rskibins

      You think the "religious issue is moot" ? You must not be paying attention to not only how people will be voting, but/and even more importantly the people (especially the hyper-religious) that are running for and getting voted into office are with zealotry... attempting, and in some cases passing laws that are based on their "religious beliefs."

      Are you not watching at all what is happening in this country ? To say "religious is moot" just because we have a secular country means you are a bit out of touch as to the reality of the situation.

      Peace...

      October 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  3. Steve

    I dont think Jesus would be liberal or conservative in the sense that americans practice it. Reading the gospel shows how opposed to violence in any form that Jesus truly was. When he was getting arrested he admonished Peter for cutting the ear off of one of the people who were coming to arrest him and crucify him. He then healed the mans ear and went willingly to the cross instead of using his power to slay everyone and escape. Even though the book of revelation may have some violent passages it is always God the father committing the acts and never his followers. I think the idea of man invading another country enforcing his will on the people goes against the new testament teachings that reserve that power for God the father only.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Ha Ha Ha ! ! ! Have you ever read a Comic Book where the "hero" does not prevail ? Can't sell books that have a hopeless ending. Halejulia !

      October 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • SteveB

      I have to agree with you here Steve.
      We see this clearly in the gospels– when the people want to come and make him a king by force (after the feedings of the thousands)– he slipped out and no one could find him. When Judas Iscariot tried forcing Jesus' hand to show his power at the betrayal, Jesus rejected this demand to become Israel's political Messiah without first being their sin sacrifice. Each group in Jesus' day who wanted Jesus to be political were left standing at the door.
      Jesus has another goal in mind– dealing with the sins of humanity. Once all that has been resolved, and everyone has had a choice with regards to Jesus' goals– this is when, and not a moment sooner will Jesus become earth's King.

      The irony is– in the garden of gethsemane, when the guards came to take Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword/knife, and cut off the ear of the high priests' servant, Malchus, Jesus rebuked Peter, and upon healing Malchus' ear, tells Peter– don't you realize that I could call 12 legions of angels to deliver? Last I'd heard– a legion was 7,000-12,000 soldiers. Perhaps that's a pittance, but the point is that if Jesus was more interested in being politicized, and just being a political ruler– he had his opportunity and knew it, still choosing to die to take our place in judgment, to bring God to us first.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  4. Dorothy

    I remember all to well being raised Catholic and being told that all those who were not Catholic ran the risk of eternal damnation.....especially the protestants because their ancestors had once known the only true faith and had turned away from it. My how times have changed. The evangelicals are just as narrow minded as the Catholics once were. Obama has the type of faith that does not silent God in the miracle of science and social awareness. It allows the Word of God to remain alive rather than shrouding it in the binder of the most read, but yet the most misinterpreted book ever written – because many of those who read it, read it through the eyes and mind of an ancient civilization that was only beginning to understand the mysteries of creation.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • SteveB

      Dorothy.... I think that you've missed the point.
      As a follower of Jesus, I am not opposed to science, nor social awareness. I am opposed to social reconstruction which demands that I use my taxes to pay a massive overhead of running social systems which have already demonstrated themselves to have failed, when my gifts could do 10x's as much on a local level, with no overhead, and allows me to make the choice at this local level– who can, and who cannot benefit.
      I encourage you to read the bible more closely. God has called those who follow Jesus– stewards. We are responsible for the distribution of the wealth God has given us to most effectively demonstrate the social workings of God's Kingdom. You'll find this rather extensively throughout the letters of Paul, John, and James.

      When the government takes my money and distributes it in a manner that is destructive to human life– that is not a godly use of the resources that God has given me. And when I say human life– I'm referring to everything from freeing people to choose, to providing resources for their choice to live, and that does not include murder, drug abuse, welfare systems that do not promote living a life of personal responsibility.

      I don't mind helping people that cannot do for themselves– but when it comes to those who refuse to do for themselves– I will not pay for them to lay up, and do nothing, while taking my money, and doing as they please with it.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Actually Steve, I have not missed the point at all. Your assumption is that social programs have supported things that you personally do not condone. That is exactly why social programs should not be left exclusively in the hands of charities whose biases will limit who will and will not benefit from them. As a country, we should have programs and laws that are based on equality not on the whims of the richest not-for-profit charity.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  5. Hugh Mann

    There are two kinds of Christians throughout the world: Those that practise what the Rabbi taught, , , and those that make up their own rules...

    October 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Rabbis aren't Christian.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Hugh Mann

      neither was Jesus

      October 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • SteveB

      LivinginVA,
      He was referring to the fact that the word Rabbi means teacher. Jesus is a teacher. Therefore, Jesus was a rabbi.

      And no, Jesus was not a christian. He defined what being christian is by his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Christianity did not exist until AFTER Jesus' resurrection.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  6. sweetkittty

    Obama is not a Christian, he is a Humanist. He does not speak Christian. That is not to say he is a bad person. Many atheists, agnostics and people of every other faith around the world are good people. That doesn't make them Christian. When Obama admonishes people to read their Bibles, it is done in a snooty, snotty, know-it-all way. He is trying to say that the religious right is a monolithic group that all thinks and votes the same way. He is saying that the religious right are the Pharisees of today, spouting their own rules and laws while ignoring God's law. His whole Christian schtick falls flat because he does not speak Christian. He does not want to be Christian and he has closed his mind to trying to understand and lead people on the right, and not just the rabid wingers, all people to the right of Obama are bad in his point of view. He is just not a good President and no, he's not a Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • rskibins

      He most certainly IS a Christian. More Christian than the Tea Party members. And Romney is NOT a Christian at all.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • visitor

      He does not speak Christian

      LOL! Then you say OBAMA is snooty, and YOU know the "Christian" language?

      What is that? Hmm, let me guess, the way you talk, right? YOU and YOURS speak the Christian language.

      LOL.

      Jesus deliver us from the small minded, before they inherit the earth.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • visitor

      By the way, Obama BENT OVER BACKWARDS for the right wing who lied about him the entire time. If you pay attention, you would know that. But since you DON'T, you don't.

      It is pretty easy to be snooty about the ignorant. Obama isn't, but I am. Delivery us from ignorance, Lord.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Boy, am I glad I don't have you as a next door neighbor! Enjoy your Last Judgement!

      October 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Hugh Mann

      You are a Twist Christian

      October 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • LouAZ

      My God can kick you God's - !

      October 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Ms. C

    When you start questioning others about their faith, you need to question yourself. Are you the right kind of Christian? Are you a Christian at all? What ever your answer may be, you do not have the right to judge President Obama or anyone about their faith. I think that Christians do the best they can on their walk through life. What are you doing? God never asked for his people to be perfect because if we were, we would not need Him to fix our mistakes or bad decisions. The way you are judging President Obama is the same way you will be judged about your mess. At least President Obama sticks with his position but Romney is all over the place. People are running around complaining about what promises President Obama did not keep. What promises didn't you keep? Why? Was there a reason? Get your life and stop judging!

    October 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • lewies

      No, we are not to judge the soul of the person, but surely we can come to an obvious conclusion about someone by judging their actions. Obama is no Christian... just because he went to church before his election doesn't make him a Christian. He's not been in church since then. He rarely supports anything the Bible stands for. During Ramadan he had no jewelry on 'because his wedding ring and watch had to be repaired'. Really? You need to repair a wedding ring for a month? Then it comes out his ring says 'There is no god but Allah' in Arabic. No, dear lady, we can ABSOLUTELY questions someone's faith – and they need to answer, not by using mere words, but by acting like Christ, since THAT is what it means to be a Christian. Even Jesus had a few words to say to the so-called believers of His day.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Jay

      Reply to Lewies: Your post shows either your ignorance or your willingness to make false charges with no respect for the truth. Every charge you make has been completely debunked.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  8. mc

    CNN becoming Fox News. I guess if you can't beat them you try to be them.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jay

      I have no clue what you're saying, but I will defend your right to say it - but THREE times? Enough!

      October 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Jay

      I have no clue what you're saying, though I will defend your right to say it - but THREE times? Enough!

      October 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • I'm sorry...

      What did you say again?

      October 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Creel Snider

      With almost 78 per cent of the media owned by Republicans and the overused phrase "liberal Media" they only help with the dumbing down of the TV watching public. Why are we not talking about Romney and his Mormon religion and the way they treat women and why don't they get to go on missions. The right will try anything except the truth.. I wonder how how Ted Turner feels about his flagship news operation turing into Fox New 2. Any way we have freedom off religion so does all of this BS matter.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  9. mc

    CNN becoming a complete joke in its efforts to be Fox News. I guess if you can't beat them you try to be them.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  10. jungleboo

    Obama/Biden 2012. His upbringing is a model of freedom of inquiry, access to all information, and non-judgemental of the details. The overriding philosophy he espouses is one of kindness, concern for one's neighbors, direct conversation, and a desire to reach the truth of human endeavor. Romney The Grim Reaper is as two-faced as a man can get. His pasted on perpetual smile is inherently dishonest, and his words are twisted, back-handed slaps at the fabric of America, time and time again. He is all about profit, a money-changer in the temple if there ever was one.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Karen

      Part of his upbringing was as a Muslim is that the part you are referring too? That's why he took the name Barack Obama, his Christian name was Barry Soroto.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  11. mc

    CNN is rapidly becoming a complete joke in its efforts to be Fox News. I guess if you can't beat them you try to be them.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  12. Wolf

    Is CNN the "wrong" kind of media? Contrary to the oft parroted "liberal media bias," mainstream media is subordinated to a bias filtered toward the corporate interests of its private media owners, of which many are right leaning. Think about it.
    (To aroomadazda, CNN knows that many folks won't interpret those quotation marks in the astute manner that you did.)

    October 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  13. Pixietrixter

    Is cnn the "wrong" kind of news network? Garbage in, garbage out.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Pete

      The fact is that Obama was born as a Muslim, raised as a Muslim boy in Indonesia, then somewhat changed his religion to Christian later on in his young adult life. Why the liberal supporters are getting all up set when the media bring up the facts. It's all about freedom of speech and freedom of expression which the lib supporters can't seem to handle. Shame!

      October 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He wasn't Muslim. He isn't Muslim. And even if he WERE Muslim, he'd still be a better choice than Romney.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Cecilia

    If Presdent Obama is the wrong kind of Christian I don't want to be the right kind. If you had said educated or different or up to date kind of Christian if wold not have been so bad.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Breezio

    I believe that the U.S. has gone so far down the liberal path that we have forgotten how much was accomplished by churches and charities. The role of government is not to be a charity redistributing wealth to the benefit of one group or another. The problem with many americans is they now believe it is christian to force someone to pay for social services that have traditionally been funded by people who voluntarily gave with love for their fellow man.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • jungleboo

      The role of GOOD government is to tax its population, using the proceeds to invest in GOOD works that benefit the ENTIRE population. That's how we get airports and interstate systems and NASA. A little welfare helps, because good people get caught in the mire and need the hope of getting out of it. J. K. Rowling was on benefits while composing the first book of Harry Potter, and she's just ONE example of someone who turned her life around. And she didn't set out to wreck her life through indolence. What is the POINT of being so cravenly miserly that you can't afford to care for the poor, elderly and sick? That's not what is bankrupting America! It's the wars, stupid! Go ahead, cut off the poor and see what you get as a harvest.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  16. Tim I

    Whoever wrote the totally misleading headline for this piece should be fired. That headline is an unjustified attack on President Obama's religious views. I t is not in any way supported by the content of the article, which does a decent job of explaining the President's religious influences, going back to Martin Luther King.

    Nowhere in the article is it in any way suggested that Obama is somehow a 'wrong' kind of Christian . He comes from a long tradition of Christians working to improve the lives of ordinary people, particularly the less fortunate among us. This is very much in accord with the gospel of Jesus Christ, who taught that how we treat our fellow humans, will determine how we are judged.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • aroomadazda

      Including quotation marks around the word "wrong" in the headline should have tipped you off as to the author's feeling on the subject. Clearly he is criticizing those who are questioning his beliefs, not to mention the whole notion of there even being a right or wrong kind of Christianity. If the headline had not included quotation marks around 'wrong' you might have had a beef, but those quotation marks should immediately get you thinking that the author is going to be critical about those who may say that. And in the end, the author seems to be hoping that the President, and others who believe as he does, can lead a revival of progressive Christianity.

      October 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  17. TRH

    This article is quite biased against the President. If the writer is suggesting that the President isn't a Christian because of the use of drone strikes I would remind this person of George W. Bush attacking Iraq sending 4200 men and women to their deaths, no to mention destroying the country and it's population including 10% which were Christians now GONE!! Civil war and chaos!! I pretty much judge a person's Christian convictions on how they act and the way they speak. We are no longer support the Republican Party because of the hateful and mean spirited way many act. We are Independents and have always voted for the person we consider to be the best person, BUT this writer has much to learn about what a Christian should be and do.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  18. Britton Gildersleeve

    Bad healine, guys. Old journalist here, and this is totally misleading, and plays deftly into the hands of the religious right. What were you all thinking??

    October 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • aroomadazda

      As an old journalist, you should have been tipped off by the quotation marks around the word 'wrong.' As soon as I saw that I knew it was going to be an article criticizing those who question the presidents' beliefs, and that it would also call into question the whole notion of there being a right or wrong brand of Christianity. As a bonus, the author also seemed to be hoping that the president can lead to a revival of progressive Christianity.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Jay

      I'm not sure about you, but I AM an old journalist, and the headline is fine. The story said exactly what I expected it to say. The idea of firing the headline writer is silly and just plain mean-spirited.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  19. sweetkittty

    He's a CINO. One big difference between Obama and Romney and their religions is how they accept Christians, which most Americans are. Obama acts like Christians have to accept the Muslim faith as a legitimate faith and he is overly concerned about offending Muslims. On the other hand, he doesn't care if his Muslim family background on his father's and stepfather's sides is offensive to Christians. He doesn't care that his attendance at Rev. Wright's church made a negative statement to many Christian's when Wright said "God damn America." What kind of Christian would ask God to curse the land they live in. the land where their ancestors gained freedom? I'll tell you what kind of Christian does that, not a real Christian. If Rev. Wright isn't a real Christian, then neither is Obama. Romney is a Mormon, also not a "real" Christian in the traditional Christian viewpoint, since they worship Elohim. Merely acknowledging Jesus does not a Christian make. However, Romney has never degraded or questioned ANYONE's faith, not even Obama's. Romney is far from perfect, but when it comes to religion, he is much more acceptable as a person who seperates church and state than Obama. There is a recent meme that "progressives" are trying to get to take hold with an undercover video of secret Mormon rituals and handshakes. The purpose is to cause Christians to be horrified and reject Romney because of obvious departure from tradittional Christian views. The reason this won't work is because never once has a terrorist been a Mormon trying to kill people in the name of Elohim. Christians who kill in the name of God are wrong, and while mislead, mentally ill Christians might do something like that, our God does not tell us to kill people for him. Yes, in the old Testament there were specific battles where the Israelites were told by God to kill their enemies. Only people who intentionally or unintentionally misread the Bible would claim that we are supposed to kill others for God. Except, of course, Muslims, many of whom believe in the whole 72 virgins for killing infidels. No President should support a religion that in this day and age encourages men to harm and disfigure their wives or daughters as punishment for disobediance. The only religion that does that is Islam.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • HS

      I would like to know why everyone is labeling Obama as a muslim. He is not a muslim. Did he ever admit to you or anyone that he is a muslim? Besides not all muslims are terrorist against the US, I know muslims who are decent professional. You may get sick one day and the person who take care is a muslim doctor. Then what would you?

      October 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • bingo

      I don't think Christians are supposed to judge ANYONE, therefore, anyone that does...perhaps should look at their own faith and Christianity. First, the anti-Obama people were saying that he wasn't a Christian at all, now they are saying he's the "wrong" kind of Christian? And some even go so far as to say he's the anti-christ?? People, I think that arromadazda said it, the whole notion of right and wrong kinds of Christianity is called into question. This is one article, with one man's opinion, I say get a life, stuff your opinion, and let the best man win. And you know, as far as Elohim goes??? goodness, that's who you need to question!!! Not if the President is the "wrong" kind of Christian!

      October 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  20. Will Hendershot

    I think the more apt question is, "Is CNN the right kind of news outlet?" My God says no.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • aroomadazda

      Then why are you displeasing your God by being on CNN's website? And anyway, I think you missed the fact that there are quotation marks around the word "wrong" in the headline, thereby signaling that the whole notion of right or wrong kinds of Christianity is going to be called into question.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Jay

      So where would your God have you go? Fox News? I would love to know which news outlet has God's endorsement.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:28 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.