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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. Rational Humanist

    The President violates the First Amendment and because they share the same delusion, Christians see NOTHING wrong with this criminal act.
    It's all "oh, those people needed comforting" so it's okay if I rob a bank and give the money to the victims?

    This is why Obama would have lost had there been someone with more common sense running against him.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • heterology

      Aren't you just so rational!

      December 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Harvey

      Criminal? Look, I am against any intrusion of religion into government, but politicians are allowed to have their opinions, even stupid religious ones, and there is nothing in the First Amendment that probhibits them from talking about religion in speeches. It's probably best that they do say it so we can find out what crazy things they believe under the veneer of expensive suits, like with Mourdock and Akin.

      He is not making any laws establishing religion. Sorry, but that speech is not illegal. Stupid, but not illegal.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      heterology, you are obviously some sort of idiot. People like you always look the other way when crimes are committed.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I'm actually going to agree with heterology and Harvey. This was not a violation of the First Amendment, and I really have no problem with what Obama said in this unofficial speech.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • heterology

      People like me. Me. You are not only not rational, you are also not intelligent. Any intelligent person seeks to know more rather than insult others. Since I am intelligent, tell me more about yourself, but try doing it rationally.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • jb1947

      the president was at a interdenominational service last night not a stump speech. I was not offended at all, it was the correct setting. He was speaking the same languange as everyone else there. If he would have done so in a nonreligious setting then he would have been offensive. He did nothing against the 1st ammendent.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Let me get this straight: You guys think that just because he meant well and was clueless about what else to say beyond a bunch of religious babbling, it's okay that his OFFICIAL speech was done in violation of the First Amendment as well as the Equal Protections clause of the Fourteenth Amendment along with violating his Oath of Office ......just because he "meant well."

      Okay, are we on the same page yet?

      December 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Humanist

      I'm not aware of this being an official speech. As far as I'm aware, he made remarks on a huge tragedy, not exclusively as the president, and more as another citizen of this country. I think you're blowing this far out of proportion.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • jb1947

      OK mr rational I looked it up. The 1st ammendant: Prohibits the MAKING OF LAWS respecting an establishment of religion or impeding the free exercise of religion or abridging free speech or infringing on a free press or interfering the right of free assembly or prohibiting the petioning for a govermental redress of grievances. The amendant refers to these laws to those made by congress. Now point out where the president was trying to make laws about establishing or empeding or abridging or infringing on religions.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      jb1947, I am glad you finally looked it up. Funny how you didn't know what it said before, eh?

      Since you are still in kindergarten, I can only hope you will continue your education on the laws of this land you live in.
      I am getting tired pointing out the obvious to the oblivious. Go educate yourself some more and quit talking about stuff you are still learning about and maybe we'll get along better. No guarantees, though.

      December 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Rational Humanist

      You really need to demonstrate how this was a violation. You're blowing this hugely out of proportion, and not backing yourself up.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  2. ImIrish

    I am a Conservative, but this is NO time to be political! And for those offended by the religious comments....how very, very sad for you.

    I thought the speech was very moving.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Yes, I'm sure your bowels are moving wonderfully now. Time for your meds you Catholic idiot.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Pete

      Amen. I think most people felt the same way.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Akindofmagic

      @ Rational Humanist,

      Firstly, you are neither rational nor a humanist. What you are a witless drone who doesn't believe in anything therefore you scoff at those who do. How very sad for you.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Oh, fake pity from a mental cretin.
      However will I live it down?

      December 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  3. Pete

    Wow! The haters are coming out of the woodwork.
    This was a great article. This is not the Presidents first funeral. What else is appropriate to say to the grieving? And we are not the only ones grieving.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Jim

      This was not the president's first funeral. Woah!? You mean he came back to life, brah?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • sam

      They're mostly folks who see Obama's name and flip out without reading the article or caring what it's about. They can't seem to help themselves.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Jim

      And Sam (i hope you don't have a son) is looney liberal who talks first and thinks later. He's a drooling idiot who sits in his mother's basement waiting to pull a Lanza.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • It's the return of Zombama!

      Yes, Zombie Obama is having yet another funeral! There is a Zombie who knows how to put the fun in funeral!

      I do enjoy the writing skills of some people here. Almost as funny as the crazy things they believe.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • sam

      Thanks for the accurate demonstration, Jim.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Jim

      I tried to be positive when describing you. Hope it wasn't offensive.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  4. jacksonowsky

    Interesting how Democrats who don't believe in God have no problem with last nights speech and yet when a Republican speaks about religion they call him a fool. Why can't either side be objective?

    December 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  5. Philo99

    So it was Obama's God that caused all this pain in Newtown?

    December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  6. Mohammad

    As a muslim am not offended by the speech and quote of Bible. We actually believe in word of God given to Jesus. So Amen.

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

      No we don't. The Quran specifically states the people of the book corrupted their scriptures. I am offended. He should have quoted from the Quran.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Mohammad

      Mahmood – you need to read Quran with full meaning and not listen to youtube videos. Go back to Afghanistan where they attack girls for learning. Every muslim believes in books given to Jesus as to David and Moses before him. Why should the president read from Quran when he is not a muslim? Our heart goes to the families in this tragedies and hope this World wakes up to the crazy news we hear from all over the World everyday.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Mahmood

      You're no muslim but an imposter. If you knew Islam you wouldn't misrepresent it or think my home is Afghanistan. Do you believe in fiqh? Haddith? Do you know them? Obama is a brother and should read from the Quran and not Christian corrupt Bible.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Nik

      Mahmood, "Mohammed" is a liberal donkey. ITs probably a liberal white female trying to spread misinformation.

      You are correct Muslims do not believe Jesus to be the son of god. Honestly as a non-Christian Democrat I wonder about Obama. Why does he evoke religious passages in his speeches? Many members of the Democratic party are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu etc. etc. or Atheist! But all the sheep in the new Democratic party gloss over this and begin worshipping Obama.

      So goes America in its declining years at the start of the 21st century!

      December 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • sam

      Yawn. America's supposedly been 'declining' for about a century now; it's the rallying cry of the moron.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  7. Lenny Pincus

    Ahh, the defenders of the unborn, rising up angry.

    Every year 15 million children die of hunger

    For the price of one missile, a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years

    More than 100 million children will die from illness and starvation every decade. Those 100 million deaths could be prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers, or what the world spends on its military in two days!

    The next time you dolts want to play all high and mighty, consider what childhood really is for the vast majority of your world's children.

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

      "Dolt"? Your vinegar ain't catchin' any flies.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Philo99

    It was so kind of the President to stop by Newtown for a photo-op, do bad he couldn't take the time to write a coherent speech.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Yeah

      "do bad"? Nice coherency.

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

      His speech was heart moving careless words from you

      December 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • jb1947

      you didn't look or listen, he was not on a photo op and person who has children or grandchildren, saw sincerity. You sir have mistaken politics for common decency. Look up the word decency before you pretend to enter into discussions here.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  9. Independent Voter

    Our President is a caring man. He is a class act all the way. America made the right choice in re-electing this President. Thank goodness.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  10. TJ

    Pastor in Chief? Is this the same man who will not stand up for the rights of the unborn and allows abortions and calls it pro-choice? I think not on "Pastor in Chief", this man should never be confused with a real minister or pastor. At least he could have had the decency to allow the funeral services and burials of these innocent victims before getting on the anti-gun soapbox.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam

      Dumbass, stop acting like he's wandering around forcing people to have abortions. Abortion has been legal in this country a very long time. GO AWAY.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • TJ! Your order of hypocrisy is here

      You know, by your standards, Reagan, and both Bushes killed millions of children too. I wonder why you were so totally silent during Republican administrations? W had control of both houses of congress, and still did nothing. Why is Obama suddenly your whipping boy?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  11. Fed Up

    Obama is worse than Lanza. His policies have killed many more children.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • sam

      Really? Any excuse to be a pinhead on the internet, uh?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Fed Up's Psychiatirst

      If you forget to take your meds, your schizoid delusions return, just like you are now experiencing. You must keep to your regular doses of thorazine or we will have to have yo wear the snuggy jacket and go sit in the soft room again.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Fed Up

      I forget the Junior High mentality of many Democrats. Can't defend the fact that Obama's child-murdering record has yet to be broken by other mental serial killers, so try to distract with puerile insults.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • sam

      This must be such a proud moment for you. Congrats on being able to come in here, miss the point, get political for no reason, and then fake outrage when you're called out on it.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Fed up

      Abortion has been ruled by the Supreme Court as a legal medical procedure up to a certain time in the pregnancy. Get over it.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • calm down, jerk

      Why don't you show us on the doll where the mean Democrats touched you?

      Save it for another day, weirdo.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Fed Up

      Did I hit the nail on the head or what? Now these youngster democrats are coming out of the woodwork, but still can't deal with the fact that they and Obama have made child-murdering ok. They know their relativistic morality has produced Lanza and prevents them from condemning his actions because their own actions are no better and certainly not moral.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Fed up

      You have said nothing of real worth, so you haven't been hitting the board, let alone the nail. Your trolling here merely shows the complete idiocy of the ideology of the far right.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • jb1947

      fed up, go away to an abortiion site and leave this site to discuss children gunned down in their classroom and the president who must adress it. You seem to need a box to stand on, this isn't the place for you

      December 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Fed Up

      Hawaii, you've been hittin the waves too much, dude. The sun ain't only bleached your hair, it's gone to work on your brain too. You couldn't figure it all out if you tried. Ah well, hang ten for me, K? Or is it hang loose?

      December 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Fed Up

      Hawee, but jb, I'm talkin bout child murderin too and how Obama's the biggest hypocrite in the world cuz he murderz kids left and right. Getcha head on str8 or go away yerself.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • sam

      Fed up...get down off your soap box before you fall and break your neck.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Fed Up

      Wow you really don't having anything worthwhile to say even when called out on it. Oh well I'm done then. Talking to useless people like you has no purpose.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Fed Up

      But sam, I'm just trying to reach up to rescue you from that pedestal you've placed your self-important self upon. It seems you have farther to fall.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Fed Up

      Run along now, hawaii. There's a big wave a comin.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • mama k

      Now exactly what policy of the President are you speaking of, Fed Up? Hmm???

      December 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Fed Up

      Are you sure you want to wade into this now mama? I mean with you aborting your lovechild with Obama and all?

      December 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • mama k

      You obviously don't know anything about me, Fed Up. Now, exactly what policy of the President are you speaking of, Fed Up? Hmm???

      Are you afraid you don't have an answer to that question? You should – you seem ready to blame him for something.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • mama k

      Yeah – I didn't think so. A lot of screaming and yelling, and then when you ask someone to back something up – opps! They are gone!

      December 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  12. Fawning

    I appreciate the consoling words of our President, but to refer to him as anything other as our President, i.e. "Pastor," is a tad fawning.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Don

      Prothero is a provacateur, CNN's equivalent of a shock jock.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Please pay attention

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

      December 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  13. KRHODES

    It is shameful though to use this tragedy for political points but what can you expect from Obama.

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

      Funny that I've never seen you say that against Republicans or blatantly partisan religious leaders. Double standard much?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Rice

      Yeah, I'm sure he would be flipping out at Democrats who said the same thing about Romney had he won.

      Hypocrisy, thy name is conservative.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Rolufer Morganus

      What is wrong with you? This is what Presidents do and what they are expected to do. Are you offended that he is quoting the Scriptures? Or just another sore, sore loser.

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

      Yes, krhodes. It is shameful the way you're doing it.

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

      Oh...are there republicans out there trying to gain points off the murder of children...no...that is democrat modus operandi.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • KRHODES

      sam

      "Yes, krhodes. It is shameful the way you're doing it."

      Really...what am i trying to gain by pointing out the obvious?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • sam

      Yes, krodes. It's obvious that you're missing the irony of your own post.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • gee

      idiot

      December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • JREV

      Time will disprove you. A total gun ban will make America safer and I applaud the President for using this as a catalyst for change. Having said that, barely anything will happen due to those who cling to religion and guns.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @KRHODES

      Yes they are. See Mike Huckabee. Let's also not forget that this just happened, and we have yet to see how other political heavyweights deal with this.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Akindofmagic

      What political points? He's already been re-elected for his second term. You must still be smarting over Mitt's disappointing campaign who had him believing he actually stood a chance against the better candidate and the better man.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  14. Rational Humanist

    In violation of the Constltution, the President gave a religious sermon and violated the First Amendment like he has done in other ways many times since he first took office in 09.
    I voted for this guy but not for him to start screeching scripture from his bully pulpit. I voted for him because he wasn't as pathetic or stupid or disgustingly dishonest as Romney.
    Had anyone with more sense showed up as a candidate, Obama would not be President right now.

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

      Huntsman would have gotten my vote.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • JREV

      As a fellow atheist, I say to you: get over it. I think religion is a waste of time and serves up most of the evil in the world. However, I was moved by his speech, and you have to look past his biblical references. What were you expecting, Obama to disavow Jesus and not make any mention of it? He's Christian dude, get over it. Some Atheists are just as bad as the religious extremists they hate so much. Not saying you are one of those people, but seriously, chill out.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • heterology

      Rational humanist? Your stubbornness is not consistnet with "rationality". If you were truly rational, you would not have posted a comment that conveys such a single-minded perspective. You would have offered the humble statement that no human mind or epistemological position can smugly discount another perspective. You would have engaged the person with rationality and not emotional haughtiness. Your bluff has been called.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • EasyTiger

      People have had their lives torn apart and your beef is that the president talked about God? That's what's upsetting you? Come on. This is a time of tragedy, let's come together and hold each other up. Also, as a side note, every president before Obama has invoked the name of God at one point – publicly.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Obama crossed the line. Sorry, but just because every President has always gotten away with violating the Constltution they swore to uphold and defend gives ZERO legitimacy to your argument.
      A crime is a crime. Fostering mental illness in the rest of the population is also a crime.
      He has zero business as President to be making religious speeches. PERIOD.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  15. guadalupeparishnj

    I wasn't sure how to take the blog – is this a criticism or an endorsement of what Obama had to say? And why is it an issue, again? Reading some of the negative comments, I see where this is going.

    There is such emptiness in this country. In a nation that celebrates diversity, how is it acceptable to criticize a man for exercising his values and sharing his faith with the nation? I applaud Obama’s spiritual diversity and courage to step forward and provide comfort. Shame on you if you see that as flawed or inappropriate. We're all adults here and should respect each other's right to express our despair freely, without complaint.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  16. EasyTiger

    Look at the comments out here... How tragic. 20 innocent little children were murdered and there are people out here insulting the concept of faith? The problem with this country is that we've lost our moral center as is emphasized by the comments out here. Instead of grieving with those who are grieving, instead of thinking about the suffering of that community or the parents and families of those beautiful little children – you are arguing about who is more right about belief vs. non-belief and getting upset that our president would dare to invoke the name of God. For one minute, pretend that was your baby, your sister or brother, your niece or nephew and try to imagine the heartbreak - then tell me why it's offensive for someone to try to comfort you. How about we wake up as a nation and start loving one another despite our differences.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  17. Nicole

    As I am reading these responses, I am starting to get angry all over again...here is the problem, this nation has lost its way...all "we" do is worry about "what i believe and how you are insulting me"...who cares. "freedom of speech" and "religion" issues are now such that the slightest thing bother EVERYBODY!! EVERYBODY wants you to address them personally, no one cares what you believe and i will not change what i say just to make you feel included...regardless, if you believe in a higher power or NOT, if your higher power is GOD or if it is a lamp, who cares. He spoke on the majority in this country and at the same time, why are you people worried about what GOD he prayed to, the more serious issue is THERE WERE CHILDREN KILLED, NOBODY'S GOD (OR NOT) SHOULD PRAISE THAT OR THINK IT OK. even if you don't believe in GOD, you still shouldn't believe it ok to harm children....GET OVER YOU PERSONAL WANTS and look at what the bigger picture is....

    i won't even get into this mentally ill subject, bc more people have been able to use that as a bargaining tool to get off of whatever wrong they've done. You were smart enough to conjure up this plan so it doesn't seem you were so mentally ill, does it. ANYBODY who can think, plan, and excute such an act is not mentally ill...stop using that as a cop out

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

      Ok, ok. Outrage, outrage.

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

      Nicole you coulnd't have said it better. 20 children died and 6 teachers/administratiors died trying to protect them. I dont' care if he quoted the Bible or not, I could certainly care less about politics right now... the victims families and the community need comfort and healing in any form they can receive it. I'm not religious at all but I found his words touching and hope they provided some comfort to the families.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  18. al

    Al l the ex Fox trolls full of hate and fear are out here today with their hate filled anti Obama rhetoric. They have to come here to be mean. spiteful and just nasty as they can be or they believe they are failing in their political duty.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  19. certainly uncertain

    Although I understand that in horrific events like these it is necessary to unify the American people, I wish there could be a different way than involving 'god' and the bible. I know the majority of our country is religious, but god/religion was not involved in this atrocious act of violence, neither is involved in any aspect-good or bad- of our conscious lives. WE have control of our own destiny, we make decisions, we manufacture easily consumable assault weapons, we are people–some are mentally ill, bad, and ignorant–and WE have the collective mental capacity to deal with these problems. I know Obama had to involve religion and god to get the majority of the American people on his side before transitioning into the real problems that we face and making the statement that we cannot sit back and do nothing. I understand the politics of his speech-which is what it was- I just really don't want to hear the word "Jesus" ever escape the lips of my President in a public speech. I know we are far from a secular nation but what the hell does "separation of church and state" mean?

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

      Ilistened to President Obama's speech and did not hear Jesus mentioned. Even though other religions have other names for God, we all believe in one of some kind.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Nicole

      so bc YOU dont believe...no one is supposed to mention it? right?...we should all do what you want, is that what you're saying?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      separation of church and state means two things: First that there be no religious test to hold an elected office and neither shall there be any form of state religion. Secondly, that the government shall not infringe the right of people to worship in the manner of their choice, even if that be in no manner.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • jacksonowsky

      Please spare me your "rationality" that only masquerades as your apparent inability to see anything beyond your own little philosophy which impresses no one but yourself. God is not insulted by the likes of you. You and your words are nothing compared to the Almighty.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      It is abundantly clear that Bill Deacon has no idea what the First Amendment means beyond two things.

      I guess someone who can count higher than two should weigh in, eh?

      Here's a clue that should put you on the correct legal path regarding the First Amendment: The Consttution is the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND.

      That means NO religious laws can legally take any precedent or have any pre-eminence over the Consttution whatsoever.

      For the President, who swore an Oath to protect and defend the Consttution, that means his duties are to the Supreme Law of the Land as the Executive Officer of that law.

      Religious people always have a mind-block against this aspect of our nation's laws and why religious people are overwhelmingly more likely to commit crimes of violence if they "believe" that their religious reasons for doing so gives them carte blanche to do so.

      I'm not saying he can't give private sermons if he feels so inclined or worship privately in his own delusional brand of idiocy.

      I'm saying that AS PRESIDENT, he is Consttutionally BARRED from using his office as a vehicle from which to promote his individual religion no matter how many people share it or how hard he was trying to help.

      Look, I voted for the guy knowing he would be doing more of this because we have virtually zero accountability in our government anyway. I'm just pointing out the legal facts of the case here knowing that nothing will be done to set the guy straight on these legal mistakes he is making.

      He is not a pastor but a President. He is no longer a common citizen but an Executive Officer of our Consttution as well as Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces.

      He has no free speech rights anymore, you numbskulls. He has no business acting like a preacher at all.
      Get it? No free speech rights for him now. He will not be free to give sermons until he is out of office. Period.

      December 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  20. J. Davis in Knoxville, TN

    President Obama is the kindest President I've ever known in my lifetime. His words are always comforting to those who have experienced great loss. He truly is a man of peace. His re-election is about the only good thing that has happened in 2012.
    I just hope the Republicans will go along with changes in our gun laws, getting rid of assault rifles forever. Too many innocent children and adults have been killed by these evil weapons.

    December 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Roger Rabbit

      Yeah lets get rid of the freedom of millions, beacuase of one crazy loser.

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

      Roger equates assault rifles with the freedom of millions. LOL

      December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Roger Rabbit

      I love my assoult rifes. Come and get it from me.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • R M

      -> Mr. Roger Rabbit: Freedom of millions? Freedom to do what with what? Reading many of these posts it's clear that there's a lot more than just "one crazy loser." When gentle and heart felt words of the President can be met with such vitriol I can only say: Have you no shame sir? Have you no shame?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Nicole

      so bc YOU dont believe...no one is supposed to mention it? right?...we should all do what you want, is that what you're saying?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Philo99

      Man of Peace? How clueless can people be.

      He has sent more troops to Afghanistan than the war master Bush. We have lost more American lives in Afghanistan under Obama than all years under Bush.

      Would a man of peace send drone planes to kill thousands of innocent civilians?

      December 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Kill da wabbit! Kill da wabbit!!

      Let's see, should we have living children, of assault rifles. Hmmmm. Tough choice.

      December 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      KDW You present a false dichotomy. Where is fallacy spotter when we need him?

      December 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.