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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. Hyo Lee

    Who judges who's Christian or not? Are the religious rights true Christians? Christians are those who accept Jesus as Savior and believe in Jesus' teaching. Confession of faith is a personal thing, and it is a matter of personal conscience. Nobody but the person himself or herself. Often times, the religious rights are self-righteous, but their lives may be full of conflicts against the Bible teaching; as the article points out, you cannot follow all the rules laid out in the Old testaments, and if you believe the Bible literally, why do many religious rights do not follow as the Bible literally says. Do we believe that George Bus is a Christian because he said he is a born again Christian and we do not believe that Obama is a Christian because he did not say he is? Why do we believe George Bush and Romney, but not Obama? The idea of redistribution is actually Biblical, as Jesus told a rich man to give out all his wealth to the poor if he is to be saved. Jesus disciples collected things from believers and redistributed to the needy. Well, it is an issue whether it should be a personal matter, not something government should intervene for. The early believers did it voluntarily. But the current world is so complex and you cannot expect things to work fairly. Human beings are fundamentally selfish and sinners according to the Bible and we know that Laissez-faire does not work. That's why the government must intervene.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • theorycraft

      lol.... and your message is equally hilarious: 'Obama is a Christian because....' '.....Obama should win the election 2012!'

      when did Jesus's disciples redistribute things? And how can you say all people are sinners and also expect Christians to be perfect? And how can you demand that a government run by imperfect people be in charge of who gets what? Not to say this is going to happen, but Mao's Communist revolution began with him promising wealth redistribution to the hard working lower classes and ended up with everyone starving except the inner circle. That's the only reason I don't support big government. Government can control big corporations, but if big government goes awry, who can control big government?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  2. Mbijimbiji

    What is it about CNN,they are neither on left nor on right.It seems that CNN has been campaigning for Romney for a while.
    I only watch two people on CNN Soledad O'brien and Anderson.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      When was Anderson ever in the closet?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  3. theorycraft

    Um...From this article, I gather that his religion lacks faith, except the faith in himself and his fellow man. I don't think he can be considered a Christian just because he agrees with some passages from the bible - they may have well come from any other religious text. Unlike other religions, Christianity is not a social religion - you don't go to heaven just because you went to the right church or acted kind to others.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  4. ianthomasyoung9

    Yes, he's the wrong kind of Christian alright. He wears a ring that has the Shahada inscribed on it. It is arabic that reads: "There is no god but Allah." This is the first pillar of Islam, which is a declaration of faith in Allah and Muhammad his prophet. No Christian would wear such a ring; it would be considered idolatry.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Observer

      Snopes investigated and said it's probably false. If false, it's like nearly every other rightwing email that has told lies about our president.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Sane Person

      No he doesn not have an inscription on his ring. There are photos available for all to see, its clearly not any words, let alone the ones you are trying to lie about. But you fit right in with your party and religion. Lie until you win right?

      October 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  5. Carolyn

    Obama is no more a Christian than a fire hydrant is. This is just a front to fool people into voting for him. If he was really a Christian, he wouldn't be going against everything God stands for. I doubt very seriously that he has ever even read a Bible. Furthermore, both of his parents were atheists, not to mention that they hated America. They were in fact, the lowest pieces of s**t to ever be put on the planet, and our country has had to suffer because of them and their stupid ideology that they passed onto their lowlife son. If he gets another term, we are screwed. We will be made the equivalent of a third world country. Not very pretty, folks! Wake up and wise up!

    October 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Observer

      Carolyn,

      From your obscene judgmental comments, you are no Christian either, so what was your point supposed to be?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • theorycraft

      lmao - I <3 you Observer.... yes, there is some disconnect between 'carolyn''s premise and supporting paragraph isn't there... 'Obama is not a Christian because....' '....he will kill us all'

      October 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Observer

      theorycraft,

      lol.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Hyo

      We were screwed when George Bush was elected.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Thecatwoman

      If you are Christianity, I'll stick with agnostic. Wow, so much hate and filth....you really need to go to church more.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • visitor

      Take another drag of that ciggie Carolyn. Hey the trailer is leaking. Aren't you late for your meeting?

      October 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  6. gman

    obama is just what everybody else is. a sinner. that doesn't mean he can't be president. God sent moses as a shepard not as pharoah to deliver his people because government was so corrupt towards the hebrews that no one person
    could have broken that power. obama can be anything he wants to be. the question is , is he doing the job he was elected
    to do. some say yes, some say no. if god wants to change this nation he will use prohpehts and people willing to take
    a stand for their faith. jesus said my kingdom is not of this world. Should we presume that god is a man who lies. His
    kingdom doesn't rest in the hypocrity of the repulicans or the so called lack of conservative values of the democrats liberal
    party. why even pose such an invasive question to someones faith. if people don't like his lack of affirmation for following
    christ then vote otherwise. but only the foolish would think the republicans as a whole are any better than the democrats
    in their values. time and time again we have seen scandal with both republicans and democrats. what kind of christian
    should obama profess to be ? let him govern to the best of his ability and if you don't like him vote him out.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  7. John P. Tarver

    Einstein's Copenhagen Observations of 1927 still stand as science, as the notion of MU based in determoinistic probabilities is falsed. So then, QM and Relativity require a sentient being outside the universe to make the universe real; even though the NAZI and their like minded followers of today dispute Einstein's finding. It is the Reason Relativity never rcieved a NOBEL; so Einstein invented the Photon as an alternativ explaination.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • sally

      You might try learning how to spell before you take on science you deluded windbag.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Sally-spelling is for mindless bots and has nothing to do with science.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  8. Joe Idiot

    Slow news day CNN? Thinly vailed attempt to make the election not about jobs and the President's track record of killing them. Another distraction of zero value to most Americans. It is also a down payment on the complaining the left will invest in over the next two to four years starting on November 7th, 2012. It will go like this "white racist males steal election, force radical religous cult ....blah ..blah ...blah". Brace yourself for a long over due right turn.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  9. Jesus suffered

    One is a Mormon prosperity minister. The other is a Marxist MalcolmXer. Both are liars by trade. Neither are actually Christian

    October 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  10. Babs

    Is it better to vote for a cultist than an imperfect christian?. That won't make sense to me.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  11. Smokey

    First Republicans made Obama ditch his pastor because he said controversial stuff. Controversial stuff! This is Christianity we're talking about, it is controversial stuff! Groundbreaking, earth-shattering stuff: the Son of God died for you and I! But when you're a politician, I guess that's how it goes: you need a whitebread pastor or none at all. Well, now they say he's not a Christian. He's a muslim/secularist. Tough to figure that one out, but nobody ever accused the GOP of making sense.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • SASP

      Republicans didn't make Obama do anything. Obama dumped his Marxist minister because he was a political liability.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  12. Rod M. Chicago

    THis should read..."Why Will People Tolerate a Lying Mormon?"

    October 21, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The People will elect a Mormon beccause Obama is a failure, religion has little to do with it.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Observer

      John P. Tarver,

      Bush said he talked to God all the time. We ended up with two wars (one started by him for false reasons), the worst attack ever on our homeland, one of the worst hurricanes ever, over a half million people losing their jobs each month and a plummeting stock market.

      Try again.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • sybaris

      Stock Market
      March 2009............. 6547
      October 2012.........13343

      Yeah, some failure

      October 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Observer- Obama is GW's third term. Obama followed the Bush schedule in Iraq to the letter and then made Afghanistan unwinnable by expanding the war to the resident Taliban. Later Obama and Hillary granted al-Qaeda soverignty in Libya; with predictable results.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Observer

      John P. Tarver,

      Bush's 3rd term? Get serious. Not losing a half million jobs each month. bin Laden dead after Bush didn't care. General Motors is alive. Stock market is UP 60%, not DOWN 22% which was the net for Bush's 8 years.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • John

      John P. Tarver, please tell us; what color is the sky in your world?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  13. Detrick

    I don't care if he's Christian or not, as an independent voter I consider both candidates on bases other than religion. For short, qualifications include that they have plans, morals and values along with intelligence, honesty and a history to back it up. Both candidates could be buddhist and I wouldn't care at all, so I guess I don't see how his, or any other candidates, religious views should be important to me.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • sybaris

      actually, your "qualifications" are no better than that of the chrisitan zealots.

      There are only 3 requirements to be POTUS.......... age, birth and residence. The specifics are easily found online.

      *birthers need not respond*

      October 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  14. Matt

    John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me."

    I'd like to know how both Obama and Romney interrupt this passage?

    October 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Observer

      Tough luck for all the millions and millions of people like the original American Indians who never heard of Jesus.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Michael

      I don't care about their personal views on that passage one way or another... what I do care about is the First Amendment. We have religious freedom in this country, which means I couldn't care less whether or not you think I'm going to hell, and there's nothing you can do to force your religion on me.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Matt

      I said I wanted to know how they would answer it; not trying to preach it. Wow, some are very touchy on this issue.

      I don't think either would answer honestly b/c if one believed you'd have to confirm Jesus is the only way, and if you didn't you'd have to deny a verse in the Bible. And if you did confirm Jesus as the only way, think of the backlash!

      October 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Sane Person

      They would have a hard time interrupting it, since they werent there when it was said. However, vote for Obama, and you might just get enough education to not look stupid while commenting on CNN's discuss. I wonder how they would interpret "super cala fragilistic expialidocious". That might have more weight, seeing as it was said by, you know, an actual real person.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Matt

      So we're in agreement...both claim to be Christian, but neither would support this verse. So what does it take to be a Christian if you don't recognize Christ?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • CarolinaSistah

      Do you mean interpret? I'd like to know that too.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • David

      Fun fact: Romans added that "quote" a few centuries after the fact when they decided they needed a flesh and blood god to get people to abandon Mithras.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • sybaris

      We will never know what the alleged Jesus said or didn't say. The gospels were written by non-witnesses 70+ years after the alleged events.

      As a historical account of the alleged Jesus' life the gospels have as much integrity as a bunch of lawyers playing liars poker.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  15. blerg

    I don't think there's a "right" type of Christian because most people 1. have no idea what Jesus actually stood for and 2. religion is fake.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  16. Faux religion

    What lies and nonsense they speak of about our president.
    Why would the author of this article, repeat the lies of one man who claims Obama wants to take out the verse...in God We Trust. This is plain nonsense. I have heard this lie for 5 years that was started by the Right Wing conservative haters.
    Please correct and tell the truths about our president. Not print and carrying on the lies.
    We know that for the past few years CNN has turned to the Right, but really, this article is disgusting!

    October 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  17. John P. Tarver

    Like Einstein, I beleive that Relativity and Quantum Mechanics prove Creationism as science. The whole alternaive of a Big Bang and Evolution as a means to species are just plain false as science. From a religios standpoint I doubt that it matters if one believes in evolution as a means to species or not.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Michael

      Einstein was pantheistic at best. He never expressed belief in a creator God and wholeheartedly rejected the personal god that you worship.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Michael- Einstein invented Photons for fools like yourself.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Observer

      “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
      - Albert Einstein, letter to J. Dispentiere, 3/24/1954

      October 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • sybaris

      Tarver, please stop regurgitating anonymous urban legend emails. It makes you look stupid

      October 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  18. steve

    "No president has ever shared his type of Christianity, historians say." This is getting disgusting. Religion is really dumbing down people and dividing them.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  19. Ryan

    Interesting article, but somewhat ignorant of Christian theology. Obama's home church in Chicago subscribes to liberation theology, a strain of theology rejected by main-stream Christians pretty much since its inception for the manner in which it mixes in Marxism and often reject core christian beliefs in favor of using the Christian message to serve a social agenda that is not inherent to Christianity.

    The other interesting facts in this article were the Unitarian sound of his upbringing, a religion in its own right that is not compatible with Christianity and Obama's statements about the Bible that reveal he really does not know much about Christianity.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Social darwinism, such as is exemplified in our social democracy has traditionally been the enemy of christianity.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Ting

      "Obama's statements about the Bible that reveal he really does not know much about Christianity."

      So I guess you're saying that he is an average Christian?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • steve

      This is how someone identifies another Christian now, with scary words: liberation theology, strain of theology, mixes in Marxism, social agenda that is not inherent to Christianity, and the Unitarian sound. And people say Islam is bad, LOL. Christians really need to reevaluate their beliefs in God, because they have forgotten what he stands for.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Voice1234

      You left out Mormonism, which is considered a cult by "main-stream"Christianity.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  20. Sarah

    Obama pretends to be a Christian so he can get enough votes to win elections. He really in a non-Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Observer

      Sarah,

      Thomas Jefferson wasn't a Christian.

      What was your point?

      October 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Romney is a FRAUD !

      Daughter of LDS Bishop Warns Against Mormonism and Romney Presidency :

      “However, what is never talked about is that Romney has his own goals for the Mormon Church [and] The Mormon Plan for America, and while he is cunning , he lacks the judgment to discern that he will not become a ‘god’ in his next life and receive his own planet.” “While he attempts to portray Mormonism as just another Christian religion, Mitt Romney counts on his skills to shift our attention away from what he truly believes,” she wrote in her book Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters? The Mormon Church Versus the Office of the Presidency of the United States of America.
      “It’s like our eyes are glazed over when it comes to the religion of Mitt Romney,” Erickson told talk show host Thomas Hartmann in further discussing the matter. “If you just knew what Mitt Romney believed, you would run far away from this candidate.” Erickson states that she grew up in a devout Mormon household, and was even married in the LDS temple according to mandated rituals. However, she laments many things that she observed and was subjected to : “It was horrific,” she told WND. “There I was standing naked [at my wedding]. They brought this bowl of water and started washing my body down, and whispering prayers over my body. They stopped over the right and left breast, the navel and knees and prayed specific prayers.”
      Erickson stated that because Mitt Romney is a dedicated Mormon, he espouses beliefs that are very concerning, including that Jesus was not born of a virgin, that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers, and that Romney will one day become one of many deities.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Iceman

      Who cares what religion President Obama is. He is a hell of a lot better President than the village idiot- Geroge W.Bush and let's all pray we get 4 more years for Obama to fix the mess that Repugnicans left after 8 years of dingbat and idiot.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Samson

      Sarah, indeed, as Christ said, 'Let him who has committed no sinthrow the first stone". Your kind of judgemental thinking is the reason for the death of "evangelical" christianity in America. Too many false and rogues prophets are masquarading as "Men of God" who determine who is or is not a Christian. This is so sick that well meaning people have left churches in droves. Let me ask you Sarah, Are you married? Just who is to say that you are or not married? See my point? We'll all go to Heaven or Hell alone!

      October 21, 2012 at 8:47 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.