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December 17th, 2012
01:16 PM ET

My Take: Obama's Newtown remarks show presidents as pastors in chief

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Presidents wear a lot of hats. They serve as commanders in chief. They nominate Supreme Court justices. They veto congressional legislation. Increasingly, they are also coming to serve as our pastors in chief.

In his remarks Sunday night at an interfaith service at in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama vowed to use “whatever power” he has to prevent more mass shootings, and he all but promised to push for stricter gun control laws in the next U.S. Congress. But policy was not top of mind yesterday for either the president or a grieving nation.

Obama began by quoting from the second letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians:

Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away ... inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1).

He then reminded us that, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once put it, we are all “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny.” The tragedy that visited Sandy Hook Elementary School could have been visited on any school in any town in America, Obama said. So Newtown’s grief is not its alone: “All across this land of ours, we have wept with you."

As a pastor among pastors at Sunday's interfaith event, Obama spoke of sadness and comfort and evil and inspiration. As a parent among parents, he referred to "caring for our children" as “our first task” as a nation.

Presidents are often tasked with posing difficult questions about foreign or domestic policy. In this speech, Obama asked philosophical and theological questions instead: “Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose?” He then spoke, as Lincoln did at Gettysburg, about moving through the darkness, without easy answers, “often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.”

In his famous hymn to love in his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote that "the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). For me, the most surprising turn in Obama's speech came when our president did the same.

"Love" is not a word that typically comes flowing off the tongues of our chief executives. But on Sunday, Obama spoke of love nearly a dozen times. In an uncertain world, he said, love is the “one thing we can be sure of."

Then he read the names of the 20 children who died.

Earlier, Obama had spoken the names of the six teachers and administrators who were killed. As he did so, the wailing in the auditorium was audible. When he read this litany of the children, the wailing returned. He read the names slowly. He read them surely, like someone looking out loud for a fallen friend on the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He then asked for the blessings of the Almighty on those who were killed and his comfort on those who are grieving.

It wasn't a speech. It was a sermon. And it is worthy of the talents of our current pastor in chief.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Bible • Christianity • Faith Now • My Take • Opinion • Politics • Schools • United States • Violence

soundoff (1,110 Responses)
  1. ORChuck

    "Pastor-in-Chief"?

    I was not aware that President Obama had been ordained?

    Would you also call him our "Doctor-in-Chief" and let him conduct your next surgery?

    Pastor is a specific qualification and should not be applied carelessly.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • jb

      Absolutely. Pastor in chief, really? What is this nation coming to.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Leaping Lenny

      Qualifications are indeed important for the witch doctors of religion. Especially the Republican propaganda sound byte spinning course.

      Qualifications. Yeah right. None of them actually know what's in their bible.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "Pastor is a specific qualification"

      LOL, qualified to tell lies to the deluded.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  2. the_dude

    Just more bloviating from the anti-christ himself

    December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • sam

      Calling Prothero the anti christ is a little harsh, don't you think?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bob58

      That would be Dick Cheney.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  3. jb

    Why is that anyone in their right mind cannot post to an article such as this, regardless of religion, creed or political views, without taking a harsh stand or being hurtful? Think of the innocent lives that have been lost, their families and those who died in the attempt to save lives: this is and can be the only thing to cross our minds. I, like so many others I am sure might not agree with President Obama on a host of issues, but The Leader of our Country made the finest speech of his Presidency and We as a nation should be grateful. This tragedy, one of such unimaginable proportions, must be viewed without bias and the only thing We must do is come together in spirit and hope that all those so horribly wronged and traumatized by this senseless act can find the strength to move forward. All other opinions are irrelevant and should be put aside. And it is most decidedly fair to state that our Prayers, whatever faith, are with all of the families so hurt by this tragedy.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Leaping Lenny

      Why is it in these moments that there is always some dingbat who insists everyone should stop having freedom of speech and debates and all that, and obey some narrow behavior? Most of us are great distances from the event, not directly connected to it, and unable to do anything but perhaps donate money. Why do people think you must stifle yourself, especially when religious people have widely blamed this on atheism for kicking god out of schools?

      I prefer freedom of speech.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  4. Nik

    Yes Obama is god, he is amazing, lets all worship him.

    Forget that the economic and social structure of America is the worst its ever been.

    Bunch of idiots.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • sam

      So you completely missed the point and decided to air some imaginary political grievance. Aren't you special!

      December 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Nik

      No Sam, I am just stating the facts.

      Also I am not a Christian, and don't care for preaching.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Roger Rabbit

      Obama and his crocodile tears. He does not care that during abortion, babies heads are crushed and then left to die.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam

      You opinion is not 'facts'. Go grind your axe somewhere else – no one cares.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bob58

      That would be the 1930's ....... you know, after the last time the GOP ruined our economy.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      If only Roger Rabbit's skull had been crushed. If only.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • 3vilmonkey

      Nik – You're another GOP thug, aren't you? Your entire existence is based upon hate, lies, bigotry and ignorance. You KNOW Obama inherited a horrible catastrophe from Bush, and yet you make yourself believe that somehow Obama caused it, when the facts show that the economy has continuously improved from the depths of depression since he took office. You, Nik, and those like you are pathetic, subhuman filth. Now go buy more guns to make yourself feel better.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Bob58

      The writer refered to ALL Presidents as "Pastor in Chief" ....... but of course, like everything else, the wing nuts only take exception to THIS President.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • DC-Law

      Nik, you miss the point, this is not at about you, or what you like. The use of Biblical reference and tone of the the speech can be viewed through religious eyes, or non-religious with the Bible quotes seen as parapble or philosophy. The President aimed to provide comfort, and did so with class, and in a manner fitting the occassion.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • jb

      This guy shouldnt use those kind of words comparing the Prez to a pastor or Jesus. Should never be used in that context.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      You are an insensitive @ss. The president did not go to that town for political purposes, he is genuinely trying to help and I think he did an exceptional job doing so. I hope nothing bad ever happens in your life.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Jason

      What a sad, small minded expression. I wonder if you experienced such a tragedy personally would there still be room in your heart for such petty tripe.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  5. DC-Law

    The President rose, and showed himself as a leader while addressing this trajedy. He showed himsel a voice of compassion and concern befpre a heartbroken community and Country. Bless all of those impacted by this unimaginable horror, and a Country saddended by such senseless loss.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jim

      Rather, Obama showed himself to be opportunistic in his ongoing efforts to distract from the fact that he is a muslim.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • MertonPrice

      Barack Obama is groovy.

      December 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  6. lionlylamb

    5.Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.-Albert Einstein

    6.The scientists’ religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.-Albert Einstein

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/einstein/

    December 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  7. jayross495

    You GOPers are so disingenuous. What about all the millions that you guys make from the guns a product designed to kill? Where is your pro-life activism when you and your fellow GOPers pollute the air, water, and food with chemicals that are directly linked to cancer and other diseases. You look the other way to make a quick buck. What about working conditions that contribute to the lack of safety for those people on whose backs you make millions while you pay as little as the you can. You are driven by greed and self-interest. Under the guise of freedom you create schemes to reduce the life blood of others. SHAME on you! and so as Matthew 7:2-5 says: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      jayross495,

      While you make a righteous stand your words will go unheeded by the lots of mobbed atheists whose atheism is meant to be a sarcasms against those Godly who dare to enlighten the befuddling atheists who only impart their word of ingenuousness accruals sedimentary fodder. :-(

      December 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Man oh man

      I hate it when people use big words they don't know in an attempt to sound smart. It would be funny if it weren't so painful to read.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Man oh man,
      Just cause you do not know "big" words does not mean the word's author doesn't! What an atrocious idiot you are to entangle such wordage against an author of said likenesses sakes! I know I am an idiot so don't let others know it!

      December 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  8. Ryan

    If I wanted to listen to a sermon, I would go to a church. Thankfully, CNBC was gracious enough to simulcast the Patriots game so I wouldn't have to listen to such fake emotional bullcrap

    December 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • al

      Then why did you feel the need to come here. read the story and make such a heartless, selfish comment? No one cares what you believe or what you don't but there is never an excuse to be cold hearted, uncaring, and unfeeling simply because you are so full of hate.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • DC-Law

      This is not about the President, it is about solidarity and unity with fellow citizens that are suffering. Glad you didnt miss any of the football game.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, this fount of wit and wisdom posted something even more adorable lower down the page.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  9. Vista53

    If what was said by President helped the parents of the children killed then more power to him, and who cares what God you belive in, can't please everybody.......

    December 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  10. kato

    guess what swedenman....this is not a secular nation..if you use the american currency it clearly states In God we Trust...this nation was built on Godly principles and it will remain that way. if you think a president offering condolences to the families is offensive by the use of Biblical lingo, you missed the most offensice part of this issue: innocent lives taken without reason. Sorry to give you this wake up call USA is not a secular nation.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      You are incorrect.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam

      ?? Having it on the money makes it so? Oy vey.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • al

      No, we are a secular nation. So do you worship money as your god?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  11. eddie j

    The killing of one child is the killing of every child,America wake and take responsibility cus this power handed over to you is divine if you can fight for freedom to gain independence so we can fight to gain peace for all mankind and i know we can win

    December 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  12. Thinkergal

    Thank the good Lord we have President Obama and not Mitt Romney.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • jorge washinsen

      Should leave that love you have for the families.They have a long time to recover from this.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • d l

      why?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam

      Shove it, wheatley.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Ryan

      Don't thank god....thank the retarded voters who think wealth distribution is a right

      December 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bob58

      mmwheatly – thank you for reminding us of the ignorant, simple mindedness that we voted against last month.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • sam

      Watch out everybody, we've got an Ann Coulter fan in the house.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • al

      mmwhealey: Do you live your life so full of hate that you have to be insulting, petty, and just plain rude?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  13. Rick CT

    Living in a town that borders Newtown, I can attest that the grief in the entire area is enormous. Regardless of politics, thank you Mr. President for coming to our beautiful little area of this great country and being a part of this moving memorial to the little angels and their mentors who are no longer with us. I don't care what the label, pastor or otherwise, that is not important. What was important was your genuine expression of grief and understanding along with the words of hope for the families, those associated with SHES and the people of Newtown (and be extension, the surrounding area) that we will recover and be stronger. It was also inspiring and most appropriate that you expressed in no uncertain terms that you will not let our loss be in vain, but instead press to do whatever you can to ensure that this be your last such trip. We look forward to in the days a weeks ahead you using your office to do whatever possible toward making that goal a reality.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  14. whozits

    They call the Presidentcy (sp?) the Bully Pulpit for a reason. He is not the first President to use it. He is not the first President in my over half century of life to use it. Kennedy used it to "ask not what your country can do for you"; Carter tried when he wanted us to become less dependent on foreign oil and more responsible in our energy use; Reagan used it to see us Voodoo Economics and StarWars; Bush2 used it to sell us on the war in Iraq. FDR was excellent at it. Obama has used religious vernacular more often than his predecessors, though I noticed this particular speech made some effort to be religiously inclusive (the mansion in the sky was the 'turtle house', for example) recognizing that,though fewer in number than Jews and the various sects of Christians, Sandy Hook is also home to Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists. He is himself most familiar with Christian cant and so he paraphrased many NT passages.

    I feel sorry for those one trick ponies who must rail at this time for their pet peeves. It isn't just here, it is throughout the internet where some use the massacre to drive funding for third world children or for antichoice or for right wing racist poolitics. Sad that for just these few days, we can't just let ourselves mourn over slaughter where slaughter is least expected. It isn't that twenty children died or that they died by gun violence for that happens around the world in some spot or other almost daily for political or monetary reason. It is that in this little town of comfortable, safe homes and quiet streets, of church going families and apple festivals, of gingerbread houses and interfaith services one mentally ill man armed with a semi-automatic weapon, some high impact ammunition and two quick load semi-automatic pistols killed 27 people, 20 of them children who hadn't even lost their first baby teeth yet.

    Leave off the politics, leave off your issue rants. Mourn the loss of innocents.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Mourning is well and good and all, but it seems a better way to remember those who died is to, as a nation, come together and have a rational discussion of the causes of this tragedy and how we might prevent similar travesties from occurring in the future.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • j sweeney

      Please

      December 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  15. Just call me Lucifer

    Funny how when tragedy strikes everyone turns to "god".,. even though if a god existed one would expect him to be god-like and prevent it.
    Silly humans. There are no gods to save you. Save yourselves.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Chad

      "A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating." - C.S. Lewis

      December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bob58

      There is only one God.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Real

      How do you save yourself when you die?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Ghani

      Lucifer, the fallacy of your argument is in the presumption of what God "would've". For in it, is another assumption that God is "All Good". And within that, is yet another assumption that the "All Good" God is naught other, that is an assumption of negation. What you've rejected, therefore, is simply the "All Good" argument of God, a traditionally Christian position that does require some unfathomably difficult mental models to conceive and crystalize.

      However, your conclusion of God's non-existence from this "argument" is equally presumptuous and incomplete, and cannot stand to logical scrutiny and deconstruction. For there are certainly other religious traditions that do not view "God" as a positive All-Good only, incapable of allowing no wrong and evil. Such a position would be incongruous with the fundamental principles of a purely monotheistic faith like Islam which posits that while God is the source of all good, He permits evil.

      Ultimately, of course, these are human constructs, interpreted through the prism of human experience and culture, history and location. A true God MUST be above human interpretations, not limited to time and space, otherwise it is not and cannot be "God".

      Your logic in support of an atheistic position is severely flawed. May you be enlightened in your search for Truth and meaning; beware, however, of "facts".

      December 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      @real...

      Funny thing about when you die. You're dead. You have no eternal soul that "lives" forever. There is no lake of fire that burns eternally with the souls of the unrighteous. There is no eternal Disneyland for those who believe they've kissed enough god-butt to get their ticket stamped and go inside. When you die it is as before you were born. Nothing. How do I know? I'm the fvcking devil, thats how I know.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  16. Chad

    Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away ... inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1).

    thank you Mr. Obama for acknowledging the God of Israel, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in your official capacity as President of the United States of America.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Ascension

      Well said. Best post that I've read.

      December 18, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  17. Reasonable Ronan

    The real solution is to force two people to vouch for the mental stability of anyone wanting to own a gun. If they go off the deep end, then prosecute those who vouched for him as an accessory to the crime. I don't think it would have stopped this most recent POS, since he stole the guns, but I doubt two people would have vouched for his crazy Apocalyptic gun-nut mom. So he might never have gotten access in the first place. The second part of the problem is people stealing guns from responsible owners. Mandating better guns locks might be a solution, but I'm open to suggestions.

    You don't have to be psychic, but you should have to trust a person enough to give them the right to wield a weapon that makes it very easy to kill. I know plenty of people for whom I would vouch. This puts gun ownership tilted in favor of caution. If you can't convince two people that you are sane and cool-headed enough to own a gun, then sorry... IMO this would insure that most of the guns get into the right hands. It would also stop the anti-social weirdos from getting them as well.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • jorge washinsen

      Who is going to vouch for the voucher?We can talk about all the troubles in the world but trying to figure out a human mind is a problem too big for us.I have heard said", time will heal all", but no proof of that yet when it comes to a loved one.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • ramblnrev

      So you are willing to open your medical records to every one and anyone who wants to see them? I believe you need to rethink this.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  18. Tim

    I am new age believing in a higher power, but despise any organized religion. Yet I respect each person's choice in life and openly accept their belief. I'm certain those directly affected by this tragedy would not have an issue with the words spoken by the President and found them to be as comforting as they could be.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  19. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    This is a requirement of the office.

    Something in the vicinity of ~85% of Americans hold religious beliefs. In times of national grief, any discussion without a reference to divinity will be met with opprobrium and scorn as 'godless'. Such behaviour is political suicide.

    Lincoln did it in the Gettysburg address. referring to 'this nation, under God'.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • freya

      Just stop it okay if you still believe in kindness and human decency stop it. Parents lost their children children lost their mothers you playing politics with their grief is not helping you being identify as human.

      December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Chad

      If it is your view that Obama is merely pandering to the populace by acknowledging the God of Israel, your opinion of him must be quite low indeed..

      December 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Chad,

      no, our President says he is a Christian. His words, actions and policies are consistent with this and it is my opinion that he is indeed a Christian.

      I have absolutely no objections to anything our President said last night.

      My comments at the top of this thread are directed at the thesis presented by Prof. Prothero that "pastor-in-chief" is a role that a President is expected to play. It is.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  20. swedenman243

    It disgusts me what people are proud of in this country. Not only is Obama only pretending to be Christian because (sadly enough) you can't get elected in this country if you're not, but his speech was incredibly offensive to non-Christians. I mean, all the stuff he said about the fellowship among the school kids and teachers was quite touching, but I was tempted to just turn off the TV after he started quoting scripture. I don't care what you believe, there were children murdered that day who weren't Christian, and I can only imagine how insulting it must be to the families of Muslim and Atheist children who were killed that day (and whatever other religions that were represented there). This is a secular nation. It's time we start acting like it. The way we treat non-Christians in this nation is disgusting.

    December 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Akira

      He's Christian.
      Get over it.
      The way people treat *him* is just as appalling.
      Grow up.

      December 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • freya

      You criticizing the President in sharing whatever means of words of comfort he can offer is divisive and disgusting. I am not a Christian I am hovering between being a Buddhist and a witch and my religion might not get accepted by them. You don't offer anything of your own beliefs you offer them their own. This time around what we need is unity and holding each other in this time of deep sadness. Even my Goddess understand it and so was the Buddha, he call it COMPASSION.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • soulscore

      You want to be able to speak of your beliefs or disbeliefs without question. Our president was speaking in his beliefs to comfort the grieving. If this coutry isn't politically correct enough for you, go back to sweden, swedenman!!!!

      December 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • yvonne

      Speaking as an Atheist, I do not find anything offensive about the Speech. I thought is was beautiful and was meant to give comfort to those who are grieving. One thing I think religion gives to society is during times of great grief and hardship it gives comfort and hope. Just because I do not believe in God, doesn't mean the comfort doesn't feel good. Tolerance is needed.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Steve Stein

      swedenman243

      I do not believe that either Atheists or Muslems were insulted by President Obama's words of comfort. He was using scripture to provide context to the idea that People (All people) can move on and treat each other well and lean on eath other. I do not believe his words or quotes were at all devisive nor intended to leave out non-Christians. We are all sadden for all of the lost lives. I am sorry you are so insulted. I believe you have a bigger problem with the man than you do his actual words.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam

      Someone tried to give some general words of comfort, and you're offended? Dude, get a grip.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • marley

      Actually, (newsflash) this is a Christian nation. It was built on Christian principles and values. The fact that Obama quoted the Bible gave comfort to those who know God and possibly planted a seed of truth to those who are not yet acquainted. Because at the end of it all, there is only one truth, and that is Jesus. This nation has increasingly become a case of stripping away various rights and traditions to please a minority. Pretty soon nobody will be able to celebrate or acknowledge anything because it just might offend someone somewhere. May God comfort those families and give them the knowledge that their children are in heaven and rejoicing in such a state of happiness that we cannot even begin to comprehend.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • jb1947

      I am agnostic, raised Catholic, 65, and I found nothing offensive in our Presidant's speech. He spoke of humans being there for other suffering humans beings. Are you a citizen?? Do you do nothing but hate? If you cannot read a person better than criticizing him you are without insight. He was moved, and moving, emotional even as he tried to be strong. Nothing pretended there. You have the problem

      December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • sam

      No marley. I know you want it to be so, but this is not a christian nation. We are not a theocracy.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • DC-Law

      Swedeman: Whether the US is a Christian nation is not at issue here. The President chose words he felt could transcend the religious context of the Bible and provide a sense of confoirt, a sense of reason to everyone that listened. Please put aside your unearned sense of righteous indignation, and compelling need to show yourself some kind of intellect, and alllow for the fact that this is simply about a leader trying to provide comfort to the inconsolable and sense to the unexplainable.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Tony

      You sir are so way out of touch with reality I wonder if you even reside the the USA.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Our God knows of all our pains,
      Our God loves yet He refrains.
      My God is your God too,
      Your God is my God ever so true.
      Their God is our God one and the same,
      God cares for all creatures even the lame.

      G.O.D.
      God's Oldest Dreamer

      Love Lettuce,
      Love Let Us.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jm

      Jeepers if you were that offended by the Christian language of Obama you must have been apoplectic when the young Muslim sang and when the Muslim cleric prayed for the victims and their families. Did you run screaming from the room too when the Rabbi spoke?

      December 17, 2012 at 5:08 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.