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In Obama’s first term, an evolving Christian faith and a more evangelical style
President Obama speaking from the pulpit of a Washington church in 2010.
October 27th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

In Obama’s first term, an evolving Christian faith and a more evangelical style

Editor's note: This is the last in a series about the faith lives of the presidential candidates, which includes a profile of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – President Obama’s prayers for a strong first debate may not have been answered, but that doesn’t mean the prayers weren’t happening.

Before he stepped onto a Colorado stage earlier this month to face off with Mitt Romney for the first time, Obama joined a conference call with a small circle of Christian ministers.

“The focus of that prayer was, ‘Oh, Lord, you know precisely what the president needs to say,'” says Kirbyjon Caldwell, a Methodist megachurch pastor from Texas who helped lead the call. “'You know what this country needs during the next four years.’”

“'And so I would pray that your primary will and words that you want the president to say will fall from his lips,'” Caldwell goes on, recalling his prayer.

Obama, for his part, was mostly silent.

“There’s a profound and genuine humility in the presence of Christ himself,” Caldwell says, describing the president on such calls. “I think he recognizes it as a holy moment.”

It was the second time Caldwell and Obama had prayed by phone in as many months. The two had connected in August on a prayer call Obama has hosted on his birthday every year since coming to the White House.

Welcome to the intense, out-of-the-box and widely misunderstood religious life of President Barack Obama.

Though he famously left his controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the year he was elected to the presidency, a handful of spiritual advisers close to Obama say that his time in office has significantly deepened his faith.

The making of a candidate: Mitt Romney’s faith journey

Stephen Mansfield, a former Christian pastor who wrote the book “The Faith of Barack Obama,” goes so far to say that Obama has experienced a spiritual transformation.

“I think we do have at heart a new man, so to speak,” says Mansfield, who worked closely with the White House and with some Obama religious advisers on his book. “He has undergone a pretty significant personal religious change in his first term.”

Methodist minister Kibyjon Caldwell, right, has grown close to President Obama after serving as a spiritual counselor to President George W. Bush. Here, Caldwell and Bush share a stage in 2003.

Obama’s faith advisers say Mansfield goes a step too far, though they acknowledge that when it comes to his faith, Obama has changed.

“There is a deepening development in his relationship with God,” says Joel Hunter, a Florida-based pastor who has been in touch with Obama nearly every week since he took office. “He chooses to stay faithful in daily habits of study and prayer and consistent times of interchange with spiritual leaders.”

“I am not sure he did that before he came to the presidency.”

Whether or not Obama has been spiritually “reborn” in the evangelical sense, his spiritual counselors say the president’s faith has helped shape his first term in ways that haven’t been appreciated by voters or the news media.

And they say the presidency is bringing Obama to a new place in his faith - building on a system of belief and practice that helped bring him to the White House in the first place.

Talking like Billy Graham

These days, when the president talks about his faith, he sounds like a born-again Christian.

Addressing the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington this year, Obama recalled meeting the nation’s most iconic evangelical Christian, Billy Graham, and described his struggle to find the right words as he prayed aloud with the aging evangelist.

“Like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say,” Obama told the gathering, invoking the New Testament.

It was hardly the only part of the speech where Obama was speaking “Christianese” – employing a lexicon familiar to evangelical Christians, who put a premium on quoting Scripture and communing directly with the Holy Spirit.

Understanding Barack Obama’s gospel

At the same breakfast, Obama spoke of spending time every morning in “Scripture and devotion” and dropped the names of “friends like Joel Hunter or T.D. Jakes,” both well-known pastors of evangelical megachurches.

“He was talking like Billy Graham” at the breakfast, says Mansfield, who also wrote an admiring spiritual biography of former President George W. Bush.

Even in the more secular setting of the Democratic National Convention, Obama hinted at an intense White House prayer life, along with his need for God’s grace.

Some say President Obama sounds like an evangelical when he speaks about his religion, echoing the famous evangelist Billy Graham. The two men met at Graham's mountaintop home in North Carolina home in 2010.

“While I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings,” Obama said in his acceptance speech, “knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’"

Such pious talk marks a departure from how the president discussed his faith life before his White House years.

Back then, Obama cited his religion more as a basis for social action than for spiritual sustenance. He would temper declarations of belief with affirmations of doubt.

Asked in a 2004 interview whether he prayed often, Obama, then a candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, responded: “Uh, yeah, I guess I do.”

In a 2007 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama voiced skepticism about Scripture.

“There are aspects of the Christian tradition that I’m comfortable with and aspects that I’m not,” he said. “There are passages of the Bible that make perfect sense to me and others that I go ‘Ya know, I’m not sure about that.’”

These days, Obama forgoes such equivocations in favor of a full-throated Christianity.

To Mansfield, the evolution of Obama’s comments on religion bespeak a born-again experience, prompted largely by the president’s break with Wright and his arrival into a circle of spiritual counselors that includes many evangelicals.

The White House declined requests to speak to Obama.

But Hunter, the president’s closest spiritual counselor, says Obama has technically been a born-again Christian for more than 25 years, since accepting Jesus at Wright’s Chicago church in the 1980s.

But it's in the last four years that the president has become more evangelical in his habits.

He now begins each morning reading Christian devotionals on his Blackberry.

And then there’s the circle of pastors Obama has begun praying with before big events like the first presidential debate.

A circle of evangelicals

After landing in Washington following his 2008 election, Obama shopped around for a new church. But he wound up making his spiritual home instead among a circle of far-flung pastors that includes Hunter, Jakes and Caldwell, the minister from Texas.

Conference calls with the group started while Obama was still a presidential candidate, including on the night of his 2008 victory. The president-elect spoke by phone with Hunter and other Christian ministers, rejoicing in victory but also grieving the death of his grandmother, who helped raise him, just a few days earlier.

The migration from Wright – who almost brought down Obama’s campaign with videos that showed him sermonizing about “God damn America” and “the U.S. of KKK A” – to this new group, says Mansfield, has been underappreciated.

“[Obama] went into the Oval Office … questioning the only pastor he’d ever had,” Mansfield says. “Wright left him humiliated.”

“And there were deeper questions about the theology that [Obama] had received,” Mansfield continues. “Some part of Wright’s religious orientation had failed.”

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

Where Wright is a liberal mainline Protestant, emphasizing liberation and social action, Obama’s new circle of pastors includes theologically conservative evangelicals like Hunter and Jakes, who stress God’s grace and personal transformation.

Mansfield notes that the chaplain who has presided for the last few years at Camp David, where Obama spends many Sundays, is also an evangelical.

Some of Obama’s spiritual counselors credit Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, with leading Obama to a more evangelical-flavored Christianity. Caldwell calls him the president’s personal pastor.

A former associate pastor at a Pentecostal church in Boston, DuBois is the one responsible for sending Obama Scriptures and scriptural meditations five days a week; Hunter does it on the other two days.

The evangelical pastor Joel Hunter, center, and White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Executive Director Joshua DuBois, right, are the President’s closest religious counselors. Here they are in February.

DuBois convenes a daily 8:15 a.m. conference call with pastors to pray for the country and the president, who is not on the call. (Lately, those calls have also included prayers for Mitt Romney.)

And it’s DuBois who organized the president’s circle of spiritual advisers. After graduate school at Princeton, DuBois talked his way onto Obama’s staff at the U.S. Senate, repeatedly driving to Washington to make his case after job applications were rejected.

When Obama launched his presidential campaign a few years later, DuBois was plucked as its faith outreach director.

The 30-year-old White House aide plays down his influence on his boss.

“He has always been on a Christian journey,” DuBois says of Obama, “and the challenges of the office, of being leader of the free world, provides a deepening and strengthening of faith, and that’s what you see with the president.”

“I remember working with him around the Scripture he would use at the memorial service for the miners in West Virginia,” DuBois says, referring to the 2010 tragedy that left 29 dead. “These are obviously moments when one's faith is strengthened.”

The unparalleled trials of the Oval Office have been known to deepen the religiosity of presidents ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan.

Hunter says the same thing has happened to this president: “His faith has been growing as the challenges of the presidency have become more naturally the main part of his own everyday life.”

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One of Hunter’s first Oval Office encounters with Obama came shortly after the president took office, at a time when the economy was shedding 750,000 jobs a month.

“He acknowledged at that meeting what many may know but few remember: that by the time issues get to the president, there are no simple or clear answers or they would have been solved by others,” Hunter says. “So we prayed.”

A few months later, Hunter was in the Oval Office again, noticing that “the unremitting heaviness of the office was setting in.”

“I saw something that has been consistent ever since: He cannot just pray for himself and his family,” Hunter says by e-mail. “At least I have never seen it. His faith, his heart, always includes those who are being left out through no fault of their own.”

Despite the changes they’ve seen in Obama, both Hunter and DuBois are uncomfortable with the word “transformation” when it comes to Obama’s White House faith life.

“The president doesn’t deal in labels,” says DuBois. “He knows God’s grace is sufficient for him and beyond that doesn’t get into labels, evangelical or mainline. He’s a proud Christian.”

Loving God by loving your neighbor

When the Rev. Sharon Watkins and a group of fellow Protestant ministers sat down with Obama at the White House a couple years into the president’s term, she knew the pastors would get wonky about religion.

“You get a bunch of ministers in the room and we’re all church geeks – it’s theological,” says Watkins, who along with the other pastors had come to talk about poverty. “But the president got every biblical allusion and reference. … He’s just a person who is biblically and theologically literate.”

If Obama’s personal theology has grown more conservative, he is inclined to apply it toward liberal political ends.

“I’d be remiss if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends,” Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. “So instead, I must try - imperfectly, but I must try - to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.”

In signing laws that have increased Wall Street regulations and stopped health insurance companies from rejecting patients with preexisting conditions, Obama said at the breakfast, he wanted to “make the economy stronger for everybody.”

“But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years,” he continued. “And I believe in God’s command to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’”

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

Obama went on to frame decisions as disparate as ending tax breaks for the wealthy and defending foreign aid as examples of biblical principles in action, quoting Jesus’ teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required” and invoking the “biblical call to care for the least of these.”

That last biblical reference also loomed large in another 2011 White House meeting between Obama and a group of religious leaders. They’d come to urge the president to protect programs for the poor amid his fight with Congress over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive activist, recalls the meeting:

In pressing Obama to take cuts to those programs off the table, one Roman Catholic bishop told the president that “the text that we are obliged to obey does not say ‘as you have done to the middle class you have done to me.’”

“It says as you’ve done to the least of these, you have done to me,” the bishop said.
“I know that text,” Obama responded. The passage is from the Matthew 25 in the New Testament.

“So there was this very rigorous conversation,” Wallis says, “and we pressed him on applying Matthew 25 to this decision about protecting those who were the least of these.”

Ultimately, the programs that the religious leaders were lobbying for were protected in the debt ceiling deal, though it’s unclear how big a role the religious leaders played.

For liberal Christians, such victories embody the justice of the social gospel, the idea that believers should do God’s work – even aid the Second Coming - by improving society.

“I do notice that sometimes, like on health care, when [Obama] says it’s the right thing to do, it’s him saying you love God by loving your neighbor,” says Watkins, who leads a mainline denomination called Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “He’s doing the best he can to be guided by God so he can be a faithful follower of Christ.”

Skeptics might write off Obama’s Bible talk as sanctimonious window dressing, aimed at no higher purpose than connecting with churchgoers in the purple and red states. But translating the Good Book into progressive politics has always been a mainstay of Obama’s political biography.

‘An awesome God in the blue states’

When Obama landed on Chicago’s South Side in 1985 as an idealistic 23-year-old, eager to start work as a community organizer, he was already a political liberal.

He was also a man without a religion, the son of a spiritual-but-not-religious mother whom he would later describe as “a lonely witness for secular humanism” and an estranged African father who was born a Muslim but died an atheist.

Obama’s work in Chicago, built around causes like tenants’ rights and job training for laid-off workers, was steeped in religion.

His salary was paid by a coalition of churches. And the job took him into many black churches, among the most influential institutions in the neighborhood he was organizing, including Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ.

After a lifelong struggle to fit in, set in motion by his mixed-race parents, Trinity felt like home.

“I came to realize that without a vessel for beliefs, without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith,” he wrote later, “I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart.”

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who brought Obama to Christianity, ignited controversy that almost brought down Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

The changes that Wright’s church wrought weren’t just personal. Baptism and active membership there equipped Obama with an ability to connect with churchgoers he was trying to organize – and, years later, with religious voters he was trying to win over – in a deeper way.

Wright, who did not respond to interview requests for this story, gave Obama a moral framework for his liberal politics. The pastor espoused a black liberation theology that equates Jesus’ life and death with the plight of those who Wright saw as disenfranchised, from African-Americans to Palestinians.

“Wright is the religious version of almost everything Obama already believed without religion,” says Mansfield, who spent time at Trinity for his book. “It’s a support of oppressed people anywhere in the world.”

When Obama emerged on the national stage, his comfortable religiosity and sensitivity to the concerns of churchgoing Americans helped distinguish him as a Democrat.

“We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” he declared to huge applause in his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, catching the attention of young Christians like Joshua DuBois.

But at that same convention, Obama’s party nominated John Kerry, a candidate who eschewed God talk and who lost his own Catholic demographic on Election Day.

Four years later, Obama hired religious outreach staffers like DuBois for his presidential campaign and made a point of meeting with Christian Right leaders who’d never before heard from a Democratic presidential nominee.

Obama went on to win in places like Indiana and North Carolina, evangelical-heavy states that a Democratic presidential nominee hadn’t taken in decades.

If the Rev. Wright had almost brought down his presidential campaign, the controversial minister had also long ago laid the groundwork for Obama to connect with the churchgoing voters who had turned their backs on Kerry.

The politics of confusion

As president, the line between Obama’s personal convictions and his political prowess on religious matters can sometimes be hard to discern.

Obama invited the conservative evangelical megapastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his 2009 inauguration, ruffling liberal feathers. He introduced an annual Easter prayer breakfast as a new White House tradition. He gives shout-outs to young evangelical leaders in major speeches.

Obama asked evangelical pastor Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration, riling some of the president's liberal supporters.

All can be seen as genuine reflections of Obama’s faith and his appreciation for the role of religious leaders in public life. And in a nation where more people believe in angels than in evolution - a fact that the president himself has publicly noted - all promise political benefits.

The same could be said for Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, and for presidents as diverse as Jimmy Carter and Reagan: All had deep spiritual streaks that enabled the political art of courting religious Americans, especially evangelicals.

The irony, in Obama’s case, is that despite his orthodox utterances - there’s “something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective,” he said at this year's Easter breakfast - polls continue to show widespread confusion about his faith.

Only half the country can correctly identify Obama as Christian, according to one recent Pew poll, while 17% falsely believe he is a Muslim.

“He’s a Christian and he professes his Christian faith - I don’t know what else this man has to do to get that into folks’ ears,” says Caldwell, who was also close to George W. Bush.

President Obama at the 2011 White House Easter prayer breakfast, an annual tradition that he started.

But Obama’s public piety has helped him bond with young evangelical leaders, who are less tied to the GOP than their parents’ generation.

“I was struck by the specificity of what he described in terms of theology and what it means to him,” says Gabe Lyons, one such leader, describing a White House Easter breakfast he attended. “His message is very specific and very orthodox.”

Where exactly that new orthodoxy comes from – the pressures of the White House, a new circle of religious advisers or, to a certain degree, from political calculation – may become clearer after Obama's presidency, if he opens up about such matters.

Until then, the president is likely to keep speaking "Christianese" - and resisting Christian labels.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (4,988 Responses)
  1. Mel

    This is a featured story? Where is the Benghazi cover up story? Report on the heroic measures taken by our brave Americans while cowards in Washington watched!

    October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • gg

      CNN you are a lapdog for Obama.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  2. eve

    He sounds like a lot of things but a born again Christian isn't one of them.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  3. Stasis

    This article is a lame attempt to repackage Obama as an evangelical in order to fish for Christian votes.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • FloydZepp

      Evangelicals worship Mammon. They aren't Christian.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  4. Fliprack Flopbama

    If Mitt Romney ditched Mormonism for the flavor of the day religon, like Barry ditched Rev. Wright; the Lib Media couldnt find a font size big enough to post that story. But we know Mitt could never do that because he is a man of character and faith unlike our Chicago Changling-In-Chief.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Truth

      The liberal Romney has more flip-flops than a beach bum. He now supports ObamaCare – again! LOL!

      October 28, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • jnpa

      He wouldn't do that because Mormons are more brainwashed than any other religion except perhaps the Amish. Within the other Chrisitian religions people move more easily between religions...even Catholics move to Episcopal church, so it's not quite a matter character at all. So you really have no clue...you are just president bashing today!

      October 28, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  5. tcdelfin

    "Proud Christians" do not support, nor sign into law, legislation which kills babys AFTER they are born ( partial, post birth abortion, ie murder) . Thou Shalt Not Kill?
    Murder is a crime, not a right, and certainly not a " choice".
    If you " choose" to murder a baby, you " choose" to commit murder..This is NOT the hallmark of Christianity, a " proud Christian", nor a civil society. Obama, as a Christian, would go down defending innocent childrens lives, against all odds, if he were a true "Christian".

    October 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional idiocy. Republicans have done nothing substantive to overturn Roe v Wade, and they won't. The abortion issue is too valuable to them in whipping the base into a frenzy every election season.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • True Christian

      The God that I serve does not bless fornicators with babies. He does not bless rapists with babies. God hates sin and does not send his precious ones as gifts to immoral sinners. Those who can not care for babies without government assistance have no business with them. Those who do not know how to train their children to become decent citizens have no business with them. No Christian needs a law on the books telling who can or cannot have access to abortions. Those individuals who are not born-again cannot be subject to God's laws without a personal encounter with Him. Legislating morality through a state or federal government is not God's will. By the way, God did not bless Bristol Palin with a baby!!!

      October 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  6. Who Cares

    Never going to buy it, he is a FAKE and PHONEY.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  7. Truth

    I like to suck large n1ggers.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Truth

      An imposter, no doubt a n1gger, due to its lack of originality. And humanity!

      October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • gg

      You are one sick puppy.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  8. FloydZepp

    Obama is obviously more true Christian than any TeaRINO for RomneyCrat. They only pray to hate and Mammon now.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • gg

      Barack and Michelle sat for 20 years listening to a racist preacher. They had to have liked what Jeremiah Wright was saying to stay so long.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  9. Truth

    If On1gger was standing before me now, I'd call him another worthless n1gger, tell him fucc you for attempting to ruin my country, and spit in his face.
    Of course, I'd then catch a beat down from the sh!tty secret service, but I'd have a very large grin on my face all the while.
    Some of us still have a backbone, and will die before we let anyone ruin our country.
    Sorry I can't say the same for all of you White n1gger lovers.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • FloydZepp

      You're just made because a n1gger came in your mouth and you liked it.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Truth

      You're just mad because you're just another worthless n1gger :)

      October 28, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Rob

      Wow, ignorance lives on.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  10. Equalizer357

    Barack Obama is a PURE MUSLI*M...and ALLA*H is his "god".....and not a BORN again Christian but a BURN again...hahahahahahahahahaha...

    October 28, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • OhReally

      Thank you for providing proof that ignorance is alive and well...by all means don't let FACTS distract you from spewing your hate speech.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  11. Casey

    You evangelicals with your MEGACHURCHES with Multi-Million dollar revenue from huge marketing campaigns and holy water sales are NOT CHRISTIAN. Quit trying to highjack true Christianity which is a private personal relationship with the Father Son and Holy Spirit.

    The way you spew hate reminds me of when Jesus was ministering the Gospel, demons would be in the crowd trying to expose him as the Son of God and Jesus rebuked them.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Truth

      Stop believing in imaginary men in the sky? This may help you in the long run.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Eric

      Casey, hate is a strong word and according to CNN, it is, probably, likely, and possibly against the "Obama Gospel." Ofcourse we will never know until the cool-aid turns into wine.
      I just hope he can turn poberty into prosperity by borrowing.....

      October 28, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  12. FloydZepp

    I'm a born again Christain, please Jesus shower me with riches and Mammon to worship. I'm a-praying' the Prosperity Gospel! LOL

    October 28, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • jesuguru

      Sarcasm aside, I hope you someday find the true, freeing and eternal-life giving faith behind the cult of prosperity.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  13. gg

    CNN, where is the coverage on Benghazi? I guess a president allowing Americans to be slaughtered doesn't fit in your campaign to get Obama reelected.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • FloydZepp

      Benghazi is a non-story. Try yammering "Solyndra!" Maybe that will work. LOL

      October 28, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • GetReal

      4 people died because the American ambassador didn't have the common sense to get the heck out, like the British did! How many times do you want to read about it!

      October 28, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Equalizer357

      Benghazi is the reflection of of Obamas foreign policy...SLAUGTERED Americans..

      October 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • KarenFaye

      Floydzepp: You are a moron to say Benghazi is a "non story". Tell Charles Woods and other parents of victims that! This President's "religion" is worshipping Barack Obama and trying to turn this country into another Godless mess like Iran, Pakistan or Libya. They need to erect a few spires on top of the White House and turn it into the Mosque it's become. Benghazi is a BIG STORY of deceit, murder, cover up and ineptness by all involved. It makes Fast & Furious look like a practice run for corruption. A reporter in Des Moines finally asked Obama about Benghazi – and he stonewalled and didn't answer the guy. SOMEONE SOMEWHERE will have the stones to get and answer BEFORE Nov. 6th, but it won't be CNN or NBC who are on the WH payroll.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  14. Sane Person

    I don't see being religious as a good thing for a president.. a president should be a rational and free thinker.. not just believe irrational things without evidence because he was raised to.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  15. steviebh

    Let's see. Two weeks ago a full-color, glossy brochure of the "Obama Plan for Middle America," suddenly appeared – because he never had a plan to begin with. Now, CNN is giving us a spiritual repackaging of Obama: he suddenly appears to be a born-again Christian and has undergone a metamorphisis into a believer acceptable to the Christian community. Anyone who reads, understands, and FOLLOWS what the Bible says, knows this: "You shall know them by their fruits (action, outpouring of behavioral change,)" Sorry! This is a kite that just can't fly.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  16. Reality

    Dear Messrs. Obama and Romney,

    The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

    October 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • FloydZepp

      You have a big problem – you can't prove the non-existence of God.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • gg

      Reality,
      The truth is you are one day closer to your death. I don't think you've come to terms with that. Are you headed towards oblivion or not? Mankind is stumbling towards greater understanding of the world, but understanding is not the same as creating. You could not take your next breath but for a power greater than yourself.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection- Jesus as God Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      October 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  17. Bob

    Is a Muslim and is not a christian.. CNN the voice of Liberal Odumbo

    October 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • midwest rail

      Always good to hear from the contemporary "loving" Christian right.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Truth

      Well, the truth must be heard, regardless of the messenger.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • OhReally

      Ah yes...name calling. Always a recommended approach to getting your message taken seriously. Actions speak louder than words, and the President walked away from a lucrative law career to be a community organizer in order to help those who truly needed it. That says far more to me about the man's belief system than some label ever could.

      October 28, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  18. Grace

    I cannot believe there are people still around like you. The Grace of God extends to all things, even hate mongrels like you. I will be praying for the individuals on here who think spewing hate and racial slurs is the only option to make their case and try to start an argument . So sad and yet, not that surprising.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  19. William

    He sat in that church for 20 years because what Rev. Wright said spoke to him. Since Obama has been in DC he has hardly cast a shadow on a church door. What is it about Wrights church that agrees so much with Obama? Why cant the hundreds of churches around DC provide him the same comfort? Why does CNN ramp up their religious stories right before an election?

    October 28, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  20. GetReal

    So is Billy Graham & company Flip Flopping

    October 28, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • William

      You dont have to belong to any particular religion to be duped by a politician.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
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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.