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My Take: Obama delivers Lincoln's Third Inaugural
Obama took the oath on two Bibles: one used by Lincoln in 1861, the other the “traveling Bible” of Dr. King.
January 21st, 2013
04:32 PM ET

My Take: Obama delivers Lincoln's Third Inaugural

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

Equality. That's what today's inauguration was about. And we have Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to thank for it.

President Obama took his oath of office on two Bibles: one used by Lincoln during his 1861 inauguration, the other the “traveling Bible” of Dr. King. And during his second inaugural address, Obama read U.S. history through the words and actions of these two men.

In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln turned to Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence to argue that the United States was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In his "I Have a Dream" speech, King argued that our national commitment to equality demanded that we emancipate ourselves from segregation as well as slavery.

In his second inaugural address, Obama began with an extended quotation from the Declaration of Independence. At least five times he referred to equality as our common "creed." And he repeatedly challenged his fellow Americans to act on that creed - to turn the United States into King's "beloved community" and Lincoln's vision (borrowed from the Constitution) of "a more perfect union."

The emotional heart of Obama's inaugural address came when the president connected the civil rights struggles of our own time back to Lincoln’s efforts to free the slaves and King’s efforts to end racial segregation. And he included among those struggles the movements for women’s rights, civil rights and gay rights:

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

In other words, the struggles for women's rights (at Seneca Falls), civil rights (at Selma), and gay rights (at Stonewall) are American struggles, efforts to put into practice our "common creed."

Today's inauguration itself also put that creed into practice, featuring a black president, a white vice-president, a gay poet, a Hispanic female justice, a Cuban-American priest, and the first woman to ever deliver an inaugural prayer: civil rights icon Myrlie Evers-Williams.

The monopoly of the English language was also broken twice, once in the poem by Richard Blanco - which included words in Hebrew, Italian, Sanskrit and Spanish - and again in the benediction by Luis Leon, Episcopal rector at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., who asked for God's blessing on the president and vice president in Spanish, then translated it to English. Leon said that, with God's blessing, we can see that all of us - "whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation immigrant American or Daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor" - are made in God's image.

The 2012 election has been widely (and rightly) hailed as a diversity election in which the votes of blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans turned the tide. This was the diversity inauguration. But notice how traditional Obama's address was. Yes, it made the case for gay rights, and it channeled Dr. King. But the words of our 44th president were animated throughout by the vision of our 16th. This was Lincoln's Third Inaugural.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Bible • Black issues • Latino issues • My Take • Obama • Politics • Race • United States

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  3. .

    261 Ministers Proclamation

    As Christian clergy we proclaim: the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.

    In repentance and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches and in our world. We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. The Holy Spirit compels us:

    -to affirm- that the essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives by grace in relationship with God, with compassion toward humanity;

    –to embrace- the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters in all areas of church life, including leadership;

    –to declare- that the violence must stop. Christ’s love moves us to work for the healing of wounded souls who are victims of abuse often propagated in the name of Christ;

    –to celebrate- the prophetic witness of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity, especially LGBT persons, who have met hatred with love;

    Therefore we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons, in and outside the church..
    ..

    YeahRight
    Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

    The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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    .
    . Elaine
    .
    In Genesis 18, the story about the angels coming to Lot's house, we learn that the reason they were coming to destroy Sodom was because of the wickedness that ALREADY existed in the city. The exact form of wickedness is not mentioned in that story!

    Let's just reinforce this CRITICAL piece of information. In the story of Sodom, in Genesis 18, God had ALREADY decided to destroy the city BEFORE the attempted rape of the angels – which incidentally was perpetrated mainly by heterosexuals since ALL the men of the city were involved, and we know that throughout history, gays have only represented about 10% of the population. Also, if they were homosexuals, why would Lot suggest that they take his daughters instead? That just doesn't make sense if the men were gay.

    So just to get this straight, the event that took place at Sodom was an act of violence and rape, mainly by heterosexuals. It had nothing to do with a loving relationship between two people of the same sex, and homosexuality was NOT the sin of Sodom in whatever form. The story of Sodom in Genesis 18 was about violence and domination, the same type of event that takes place in prisons and occupied countries, but it was NOT the reason for God's decision to destroy the city, and to use this story as a basis for prejudice against homosexuality in general is like comparing rape to marriage. There is NO similarity!

    The aftermath of Sodom aside, let's take a look at other passages of Scripture that mention the sin of Sodom. Here are 14 references to Sodom and not one of them mentions homosexuality!!!!! The overwhelming themes are idolatry, immorality and inhospitality! To me, this indicates people like Bob and HeavenSent have taken things out of context!

    Deuteronomy 29:17-26 – the sin – idolatry and images to false gods – "Why has the Lord done this to the land? . . . It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord . . ."

    Deuteronomy 32:32-38 – the sin – idolatry – "He will say 'Now where are their gods?'"

    Isaiah 1:2-23 – the sin – idolatry, rebellion, injustice, murder, greed, theft, covetousness, mistreating the poor – "They have rebelled against Me."

    Isaiah 3:8-19 – the sin – idolatry, arrogance – "Their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying His glorious Presence"

    Jeremiah 23:10-14 – the sin – idolatry, adultery, lying by priests and prophets – "Both prophet and priest are godless. . . . They prophesied by Baal and led My people astray."

    Jeremiah 49:16-18 – the sin – idolatry, arrogance, oppression, pride of the heart – "The terror you inspire and the pride of your heart have deceived
    you. . ."

    Jeremiah 50:2-40 – the sin – idolatry, pride, false prophets – "Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror. . . . . For she has defied the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. . . . . Their shepherds have led them astray."

    Lamentations 4:3-6 – the sin – cruelty and failure to care for the young and poor – "My people have become heartless."

    Ezekiel 16:49-50 – the sin – "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned: they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me."

    Amos 4:1-11 – the sin – idolatry, oppression, mistreating the poor – "I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom . . . . yet you have not returned to Me."

    Zephaniah 2:8-11 – the sin – idolatry, pride, mocking – "This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the Lord Almighty. The Lord will be awesome to them when He destroys all the gods of the land."

    Luke 17:26-29 – Jesus speaking – No specific sins mentioned

    II Peter 2:1-22 – the sin – idolatry, living after ungodliness, lawlessness, arrogance, blaspheming, adultery, greed, corruption, depravity, boasting, lust – "But there were also false prophets among the people . . . . ."

    Jude 1:7-8 – the sin – sexual immorality and perversion, i.e fornication after strange flesh (angels, see Genesis 6:1) KJV

    The dictionary defines "perversion" as "a sexual practice regarded as abnormal". That means that a heterosexual practicing homosexual acts is perverted as in the case of ALL the men of Sodom wanting to engage with the angels (strange flesh). However, since sex with the same gender is normal for a gay person, there is no perversion associated merely by the sexual act.

    Note also that, while the word "abomination" has been used with reference to homosexuality, the biblical interpretation of the word "abomination" relates to any act of uncleanness as set out in the Holiness Code, such as eating shellfish, trimming your hair, touching the skin of a dead pig (should we stone the entire NFL?), wearing clothes of two kinds of material (polyester/cotton) – the list is long. How can we discuss one sin to the exclusion of all others?

    This is an enormous subject, which has been reduced to simplistic values. It is plain and simple prejudice to portray homosexuals as immoral just because of the gender to whom we are attracted. Of course there are immoral homosexuals, just as there are immoral heterosexuals, but simple orientation carries no implication of morality or immorality.

    Our sexuality is God-given. God made us the way we are. It follows naturally that He loves us exactly the way He made us. So long as we embrace marriage with the same standards as any monogamous, loving heterosexual relationship there should be no barrier against us.

    When gays are only asking to have their loving relationships acknowledged and respected, why is there so much fear and anger? To strengthen marriage, why not take a stand against divorce and separation, instead of opposing love and commitment? Jesus spoke of divorce, but he never mentioned homosexuality. I believe that was because homosexuality was not even an issue in His day. Love was love. Love IS Love!

    "Protect marriage? Puhlease. With a 50 percent divorce rate, rampant domestic violence, Las Vegas drive-through chapels, and I wanna-marry-a-really-rich-guy reality TV shows, there's no way gays could trash marriage the way straight people have."

    This letter only refers to the sin of Sodom. There are actually six "clobber verses" which are used against gays. Space does not permit an explanation of each one, but just as the sin of Sodom has been misrepresented, so have the other verses. There is an explanation for each one that clearly indicates that, just as slavery was condoned by Scripture for many years, ("Slaves obey your masters . . . . ." Eph. 6:5-8) and civil wars were fought to protect the ownership of people, we now know that Scripture was interpreted incorrectly, for God would not have people to be possessions.

    We now have a fuller understanding of Scripture with regard to slavery. It's time to accept a fuller understanding of homosexuality based on new research into language, concepts and customs when these words were written.

    So please choose acceptance and inclusiveness whether or not you understand fully. One of us is wrong. Many of you think it's me. I think it's you, based on solid research into Scripture from another perspective. Yes, God encourages us to question Scripture.
    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, REPROOF and instruction in righteousness." II Tim. 3:16
    If there is even a chance that I could be right, do you want to take the eternal risk of rejecting some of God's children, and slamming the doors of your churches to those of us who wish to enter? That's what you're doing when you treat us as less than yourselves simply based on our orientation.

    If we have done the research, and it is our understanding that God loves us, including our orientation, then why not just let God be the judge? He will be in the end anyway. If one of us is to err, why not err on the side of love and acceptance? Now that was truly Jesus' example!

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    .
    .YeahRight
    Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

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    .YeahRight
    Like their heterosexual counterparts, many gay and lesbian people want to form stable, long-lasting, committed relationships. Indeed, many of them do and that large proportions are currently involved in such a relationship and that a substantial number of those couples have been together 10 or more years.

    Research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Research examining the quality of intimate relationships also shows that gay and lesbian couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.

    A large number of gay and lesbian couples raise children. Children and teenagers whose parents provide loving guidance in the context of secure home environments are more likely to flourish – and this is just as true for children of same-sex parents as it is for children of opposite-sex parents. Based on research findings, mental health professionals have also reached a consensus that the quality of relationships among significant adults in a child’s or adolescent’s life is associated with adjustment. When relationships between parents are characterized by love, warmth, cooperation, security, and mutual support, children and adolescents are more likely to show positive adjustment. In contrast, when relationships between parents are conflict-ridden and acrimonious, the adjustment of children and adolescents is likely to be less favorable. These correlations are just as true for children of same-sex parents as for children of opposite-sex parents.

    Assertions that heterosexual couples are inherently better parents than same sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, have no support in the scientific research literature. On the contrary, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.

    ..
    .
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    .John
    Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

    Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

    There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

    Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

    Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

    Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

    That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

    ..
    .
    YeahRight

    Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."..
    .

    .
    .Brent

    Religion-based bigotry is the foundation of anti-gay attitudes in our society and in the minds of a majority of Americans, particularly persons of faith. The term religion-based bigotry was coined because it best fits the description of the problem. The term religion-based bigotry encompasses the attitudes of prejudice, hostility or discrimination that are falsely justified by religious teachings or belief. We will never see full and equal rights unless we address the root of people’s anti-gay attitude.

    Religion-based bigotry is not synonymous with bigotry. It is a uniquely vile form of bigotry as the prejudice, hostility and discrimination behind the words are given a moral stamp of approval.

    Faith in America’s core message is that religious-based condemnation and rejection of LGBT people cause great harm to LGBT individuals and our society.

    We have learned that when we focus on the harms caused by religious hostility toward gay people – its destructive role in the lives of gay and lesbian Americans and explaining that being gay is not a lifestyle choice but is how you are born– persons of faith can understand why religion must no longer be misused to justify hostile attitudes and actions toward LGBT people.

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    .
    .James
    .
    As usual, Bob is wrong again. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

    ..
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    .YeahRight

    Again, you're a proven liar, Bob. We've pointed out over and over again you are using reports from well-known hate groups that the experts in this country have proven are false. The experts have stated that heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    Like their heterosexual counterparts, many gay and lesbian people want to form stable, long-lasting, committed relationships. Indeed, many of them do and that large proportions are currently involved in such a relationship and that a substantial number of those couples have been together 10 or more years.

    Research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Research examining the quality of intimate relationships also shows that gay and lesbian couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.

    A large number of gay and lesbian couples raise children. Children and teenagers whose parents provide loving guidance in the context of secure home environments are more likely to flourish – and this is just as true for children of same-sex parents as it is for children of opposite-sex parents. Based on research findings, mental health professionals have also reached a consensus that the quality of relationships among significant adults in a child’s or adolescent’s life is associated with adjustment. When relationships between parents are characterized by love, warmth, cooperation, security, and mutual support, children and adolescents are more likely to show positive adjustment. In contrast, when relationships between parents are conflict-ridden and acrimonious, the adjustment of children and adolescents is likely to be less favorable. These correlations are just as true for children of same-sex parents as for children of opposite-sex parents.

    Assertions that heterosexual couples are inherently better parents than same sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, have no support in the scientific research literature. On the contrary, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.

    .
    ..
    .
    .
    Erik

    Being gay is not a choice science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

    All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

    Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

    In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

    The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

    On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

    Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

    But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

    This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

    The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

    Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

    Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

    Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

    ..
    .
    .
    .
    .Don

    The most beautiful word in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is "whosoever." All of God's promises are intended for every human being. This includes gay men and lesbians. How tragic it is that the Christian Church has excluded and persecuted people who are homosexual! We are all created with powerful needs for personal relationships. Our quality of life depends upon the love we share with others; whether family or friends, partners or peers. Yet, lesbians and gay men facing hostile attitudes in society often are denied access to healthy relationships. Jesus Christ calls us to find ultimate meaning in life through a personal relationship with our Creator. This important spiritual union can bring healing and strength to all of our human relationships

    Biblical Interpretation and Theology also change from time to time. Approximately 150 years ago in the United States, some Christian teaching held that there was a two-fold moral order: black and white. Whites were thought to be superior to blacks, therefore blacks were to be subservient and slavery was an institution ordained by God. Clergy who supported such an abhorrent idea claimed the authority of the Bible. The conflict over slavery led to divisions which gave birth to some major Christian denominations. These same denominations, of course, do not support slavery today. Did the Bible change? No, their interpretation of the Bible did!

    Genesis 19:1-25

    Some "televangelists" carelessly proclaim that God destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of "homosexuality." Although some theologians have equated the sin of Sodom with homosexuality, a careful look at Scripture corrects such ignorance. Announcing judgment on these cities in Genesis 18, God sends two angels to Sodom, where Abraham's nephew, Lot, persuades them to stay in his home. Genesis 19 records that "all the people from every quarter" surround Lot's house demanding the release of his visitors so "we might know them." The Hebrew word for "know" in this case, yadha, usually means "have thorough knowledge of." It could also express intent to examine the visitors' credentials, or on rare occasions the term implies sexual intercourse. If the latter was the author's intended meaning, it would have been a clear case of attempted gang rape. Several observations are important.

    First, the judgment on these cities for their wickedness had been announced prior to the alleged homosexual incident. Second, all of Sodom's people participated in the assault on Lot's house; in no culture has more than a small minority of the population been homosexual. Third, Lot's offer to release his daughters suggests he knew his neighbors to have heterosexual interests. Fourth, if the issue was sexual, why did God spare Lot, who immediately commits incest with his daughters? Most importantly, why do all the other passages of Scripture referring to this account fail to raise the issue of homosexuality?

    Romans 1:24-27

    Most New Testament books, including the four Gospels, are silent on same-sex acts, and Paul is the only author who makes any reference to the subject. The most negative statement by Paul regarding same-sex acts occurs in Romans 1:24-27 where, in the context of a larger argument on the need of all people for the gospel of Jesus Christ, certain homosexual behavior is given as an example of the "uncleanness" of idolatrous Gentiles.

    This raises the question: Does this passage refer to all homosexual acts, or to certain homosexual behavior known to Paul's readers? The book of Romans was written to Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome, who would have been familiar with the infamous sexual excesses of their contemporaries, especially Roman emperors. They would also have been aware of tensions in the early Church regarding Gentiles and observance of the Jewish laws, as noted in Acts 15 and Paul's letter to the Galatians. Jewish laws in Leviticus mentioned male same-sex acts in the context of idolatry.

    The homosexual practices cited in Romans 1:24-27 were believed to result from idolatry and are associated with some very serious offenses as noted in Romans 1. Taken in this larger context, it should be obvious that such acts are significantly different from loving, responsible lesbian and gay relationships seen today.

    What is "Natural"?

    Significant to Paul's discussion is the fact that these "unclean" Gentiles exchanged that which was "natural" for them, physin, in the Greek text, for something "unnatural," para physin. In Romans 11:24, God acts in an "unnatural" way, para physin, to accept the Gentiles. "Unnatural" in these passages does not refer to violation of so-called laws of nature, but rather implies action contradicting one's own nature. In view of this, we should observe that it is "unnatural," para physin, for a person today with a lesbian or gay sexual orientation to attempt living a heterosexual lifestyle.

    I Corinthians 6:9

    Any consideration of New Testament statements on same-sex acts must carefully view the social context of the Greco-Roman culture in which Paul ministered. Prostitution and pederasty (sexual relationships of adult men with boys) were the most commonly known male same-sex acts. In I Corinthians 6:9, Paul condemns those who are "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind," as translated in the King James version. Unfortunately, some new translations are worse, rendering these words "homosexuals." Recent scholarship unmasks the homophobia behind such mistranslations.

    The first word – malakos, in the Greek text-which has been translated "effeminate" or "soft," most likely refers to someone who lacks discipline or moral control. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament but never with reference to sexuality.

    The second word, Arsenokoitai, occurs once each in I Corinthians and I Timothy (1:10), but nowhere else in other literature of the period. It is derived from two Greek words, one meaning, "males" and the other "beds", a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Other Greek words were commonly used to describe homosexual behavior but do not appear here. The larger context of I Corinthians 6 shows Paul extremely concerned with prostitution, so it is very possible he was referring to male prostitutes. But many experts now attempting to translate these words have reached a simple conclusion: their precise meaning is uncertain. Scripture Study Conclusion…No Law Against Love

    The rarity with which Paul discusses any form of same-sex behavior and the ambiguity in references attributed to him make it extremely unsound to conclude any sure position in the New Testament on homosexuality, especially in the context of loving, responsible relationships. Since any arguments must be made from silence, it is much more reliable to turn to great principles of the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not judge others, lest you be judged. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love . . . against such there is no law. One thing is abundantly clear, as Paul stated in Galatians 5:14: "...the whole Law is fulfilled in one statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself".
    .

    .Sarah

    Let me make one thing clear: being gay is not wrong. It is not unnatural. It isn’t immoral or gross or something that should provoke disgust. What is wrong, what is unnatural, what is immoral and what is gross is intolerance and discrimination against fellow human beings for their sexual orientation and active pursuit of preventing loving and committed homosexual couples from legally being married.

    I believe in God, and I identify as a Christian, and this identity as a Christian has provided me with the insight to know that people who oppose gay marriage based on “religious reasons” are just making excuses for their homophobia. The idea that homosexuality is sinful is a farce. The Bible never actually condemns homosexuality. You know what the Bible does condemn?

    Winking. “He who winks is plotting perversity.” Proverbs 16:30

    Rounded haircuts. “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” Leviticus 19:17

    Tattoos. “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.” Leviticus 19:28

    It is unacceptable that some modern Americans think it’s alright to toss rules like these aside and yet still vehemently oppose marriage rights for homosexual couples.

    As a Christian, I’ve been taught to love my neighbor. Somehow, active public discrimination against homosexuals and barring fellow human beings from marriage rights does not seem very loving or neighborly to me.

    Homosexuality isn’t a disease: it’s an innate way of being.

    Nobody is going to “catch” gay.

    Nobody is going to be “cured” of their homosexuality.

    Sexual orientation is personal and affects nobody but the individual and is absolutely not the business of anybody but the individual.

    The fact that people continue to suggest otherwise and perpetuate this idea that homosexuality is wrong and attempting to make outcasts of people who identify as gay is unbelievably disgusting and frightening and old-fashioned.

    It’s 2012, and we should have come much further than this by now.

    This matters. This is an issue that, if left unfixed, tacitly permits discrimination and harassment.

    The prevalence of anti-gay messages encourages bullying and hate crimes, and there are literally confused, hurt, frightened young people who actually kill themselves over issues like this — and yet people still insist upon calling homosexuality a sin.

    The cruelty and hypocrisy is infuriating and unacceptable.

    It needs to stop.

    Until marriage equality is legal in all fifty states, I hope Americans will have the courage to end hatred and homophobia.

    January 25, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  4. Teapatriot

    B. Hussein's REAL agenda – http COLON SLASH SLASH goo DOT gl SLASH FbL9P

    January 25, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Teapatriot

      Any congressman who votes for ONE MORE RESTRICTION on guns, beware in his reelection campaign. we will be after him with a vengeance. GO second amendment! GO second amendment!

      January 25, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  5. Teapatriot

    President B. Hussein will be remembered by history as the worst president ever.

    January 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Teabagger. You lost. Get over it. Obama will not be viewed that way at all while Nixon and Bush are still remembered.

      January 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Observer

      Teapatriot,

      LOL. Since Obama's first day in office, the stock market is up 85% after Bush left it plummeting. We are adding jobs each month after Bush left us losing a half million each month.

      Unlike Bush and the Republicans, President Obama hasn't started any $1,000,000,000,000 wars for false reasons.

      Worst ever? You're about 5 years off.

      January 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Teapatriot

      Only those for big gub-mint are for Prez. B. Hussein. This is a unamerican idea, that the government will take care of you, and you dont need to do anything.

      January 25, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Teapatriot

      Your messiah promised us 8% unemployment? what is it now?

      your messiah wants to take away my guns.. I can see thru this "reasonable steps" nonsense, that is the ultimate goal.

      he wants the government to manage my healthcare.

      all in all, remember "the road to hell was paved with good intentions"

      January 25, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  6. aflygirl2

    You call yourself educated? Goodness gracious President Lincoln was more magnanimous to the South and those that killed nearly 300,000 northerners in his 2nd Inaugural then Mr Obama was in his. Hopefully CNN did not pay for this childlike writings.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  7. Teapatriot

    all you socialists celebrate at Prez. B. Hussein's win. When the govt comes to take away what it gives you (see stalin) then you will cry.

    January 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • You lost!

      Get over it

      January 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • sally

      Get ready for Hillary in 2016 Teapot!

      January 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  8. Russ

    @ Stephen Prothero:
    read "Stone of Hope" by David L. Chappell. There is a huge difference here between Obama & MLK:

    MLK called out a racist culture from WITHIN the biblical framework to which they claimed to adhere.
    Obama is calling an anti-g.ay culture to IGNORE the biblical framework to which they claim to adhere.

    MLK was so successful precisely because he was pressing conservatives with *what the Bible says* on the topic.
    Obama has no such luxury. The Bible clearly stands against the practice of ho.mo.se.xuality.

    And there's the rub: MLK was pursuing social change that was actually FAITHFUL to their religion.
    Obama is asking them to CHANGE their religion.
    That's anything BUT a "common creed." Just ask Louis Giglio.

    January 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Sam

      Good luck in getting stevie to read the 'Stone of Hope' even a stone may have hope but Stevie, no!!!

      January 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Akira

      Of course we'll never really know what MLK would think today; as he was a fierce defender of civil freedoms and equality for the marginalized, I would like to think he would be an advocate for gay rights.
      Of course, this is only my opinion, and the above essay is only Stephen Prothero's opinion; feel free to disagree, as you have.

      January 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Sergio

      http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765620734/Two-Ceremonies-Three-Bibles-No-Scriptures-The-2013-Inauguration.html

      January 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Science

      One way to move forward .

      Supreme Court to Decide if Human Genes Can Be ... – Reason Online

      reason.com/24-7/2012/.../supreme-court-to-decide-if-human-genes-c

      Nov 30, 2012 – The justices' decision will likely resolve an ongoing battle between scientists who believe that genes carrying the secrets of life should not be exploited for commercial gain and companies that argue that a patent is a reward ...

      January 23, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • James

      "The Bible clearly stands against the practice of ho.mo.se.xuality."

      The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      January 23, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Russ

      @ James: your position is simply historically inaccurate.

      Read Plato's Symposium, Aristophanes' Speech. He clearly and distinctly describes se.xual orientation in exactly the same manner that we describe it today (a la "Jerry Maguire"... love = "you complete me!"). And realize what that means: 400 years prior to the NT, here is a MAJOR intellectual work that was prominently celebrated in He.llenized society. Aristophanes was arguing that the WHOLE being is oriented toward another of the same s.ex (including & in particular le.sbians) in the exact same manner as heterose.xuals. While it does not mean everyone agreed, it is a clear statement that such belief existed... again, 400 years PRIOR to the NT. So, it is historically inaccurate and nothing short of cultural elitism to claim (basically) "those ancients just didn't love like we do."

      And furthermore, do you really think an intellectual like Paul (who was highly educated and interacted directly with various societal norms throughout the Roman Empire) was unaware of such celebrated beliefs, if not the works of Plato himself? It's exactly what he's calling out in Romans 1, just before he calls out Christians for their own hypocritical sins in Romans 2.

      And more problematically for you:
      You can't have it both ways: either ho.mo.se.xuality has been around for a long time (and is particularly condemned by the Scriptures) or it is a recent innovation (which would beg for a whole separate critique, though I have yet to meet someone who seriously entertains this notion). And in both cases, the original point holds: Obama cannot hope to press conservative Christians from WITHIN their own biblical framework (which was MLK's genius, just like William Wilberforce). The only argument left for the g.ay lobby is to attempt to CHANGE their religion. And that's why this topic is so incendiary to biblically minded Christians.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Todd

      "Read Plato's Symposium, Aristophanes' Speech. He clearly and distinctly describes se.xual orientation in exactly the same manner that we describe it today (a la "Jerry Maguire"... love = "you complete me!"). And realize what that means: 400 years prior to the NT, here is a MAJOR intellectual work that was prominently celebrated in "

      Same sexual orientation was not studied the way we understand it today until the 19th century, that speech is only about male and female relationships, there's no mention of same sex.

      January 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Melvin

      "You can't have it both ways: either ho.mo.se.xuality has been around for a long time (and is particularly condemned by the Scriptures) or it is a recent innovation (which would beg for a whole separate critique, though I have yet to meet someone who seriously entertains this notion)."

      The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us - relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling - are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

      January 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Melvin: you are presupposing a distinction that history does not make. Go back & read Plato's Symposium, especially Aristophanes' speech. As I said before, that's 400 years PRIOR to the NT. See what it says... which leads me to Todd...

      @ Todd: you clearly did not read the speech either. Aristophanes speaks of THREE different types of beings the gods split (to torture them & keep them from wholeness & happiness) – male/female, male/male, & female/female. These 3 DIFFERENT types of beings then spend their life looking for the other that would complete them. (Again, that's Jerry Maguire's "you complete me" definition of love – speaking psychologically, physiologically, etc.) There are your 3 distinct s.exual orientations and they are being carefully described and celebrated FAR beyond mere physical interactions. Again, completion (love) brings wholeness & happiness.

      That's a famous, influential Greek philosophical text describing *3 distinct s.exual orientations* (het.ero/male g.ay/le.sbian) in the same manner we describe it today. And that's 400 years PRIOR to the NT. You can claim they didn't use the same vocabulary as we do, but you can't claim they didn't feel/act/celebrate/wrestle with the same depictions and interactions that are being debated today. The underlying concept is clearly the same.

      SUM: as such, Paul knowingly denounces the SAME, pre-existing idea of hom.os.exuality in Romans 1 that is being advocated today. It is not (as so many are attempting to claim) a radically new version which they couldn't fathom. To make such a claim is simply historically inaccurate. All one has to do is read what they wrote.

      January 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Akira

      Obama is calling for the equality of rights among all people. Period.

      January 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Todd

      "Aristophanes speaks of THREE different types of beings the gods split (to torture them & keep them from wholeness & happiness) – male/female, male/male, & female/female"

      Actually it says "The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, of which the name survives but nothing else."

      Oh yeah and then he talks about 'because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon." This just shows that he has no idea of sexual orientation that we know it today.

      Plus you even admitted they are talking about gods, not human nature, hormone levels in the womb, the brain. You must be getting your information from a conservative christian site.

      January 25, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Russ

      @ Todd: you are merely demonstrating your cultural elitism. instead of looking for ways to shallowly dismiss what's being said, hear what is being presented in its own context.

      The ancients were more honest than us. We can mock them by saying that Aphrodite never existed, etc., but we have a society at least (if not more so) enslaved to s.ex than they did. They had a practical way of owning that. We feign sophistication and don't realize how equally owned by it we are. Don't be that guy – hear what's being said.

      Yes, "the se.xes are not as they are now" because Aristophanes is describing how it was (according to his story) BEFORE they were broken in two/separated. He's describing how it was when they were happy & whole. He's giving you the goal. And hear it: in order to be happy & whole, these people (with three different & distinct "opposites") need to find their completion / other half. And not simply for physical reasons, but for psychological, sociological, existential, etc. Again, love as "you complete me" (a la Jerry Maguire).

      Yes, it talks about gods (and as a Christian I clearly don't believe that), but hear what is being stated. This is a design narrative. Aristophanes is claiming this is what we were made for. We were – to use the ever so popular phrase now – "born this way", created like this. It's the very same tact the g.ay lobby is using now. Love is about completion in your "other", they claim, regardless of gender. And here it can be found 2400 years ago on the pages of Plato – who notably ALSO didn't believe in the gods.

      You cannot so lightly dismiss the complexity of understanding in the ancient world. To do so – as I've said repeatedly now – is both historically inaccurate & cultural elitism. Virtually all of modern philosophy is fundamentally indebted to these texts. And despite your protests, I'm not getting my information from secondary sources. I've read the primary material. I'd encourage you to do the same.

      Which gets back to the original point: here we find se.xual orientation described as a concept in EXACTLY the same way as it is now being advanced and wrongfully claimed to be "new" – and that's 400 years PRIOR to the NT condemnation of the VERY SAME idea.

      January 25, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Erik

      " to use the ever so popular phrase now – "born this way", created like this."

      Today it's about phenotypes. All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      There are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      January 26, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  9. Albert Camus

    Gah! Obama is NO Lincoln.

    I swear, is this going to happen everytime we elect an African-American President?

    Lincoln ran the country like a police state. Lincoln did NOT free any slaves till way into his Presidency. If he wanted to all along he would have done it right off the bat and NOT free just those in the rebellious states.

    Lincoln was a white man trying his best to be President in unique times.
    Obama is a black man trying his best to be President in unique times.

    January 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  10. SurelyUjest

    Considering that Abe Lincoln as a congressman jumped out the second story window of an Ill. state capital building to avoid a vote tells us that Able Lincoln did exactly the same thing once as the Democrats in Wisconsin did not 7 months ago. Try to block a vote by not attending. Is this the "honest Abe" we all know and love my Republican brothers and sisters? This is a fact not made up, Lincoln once agree to a dual which was against the law at the time, the reason he didnt dual was he being the defender of the dual request chose "broad swords' as the weapon of the duel. At 6 ft 5 inches he had 1.4 ft reach on the shorter James Sheilds who had to withdraw his duel request and forefit. This was breaking the law in 1839.....so much for Honest Abe. BTW these facts are not intended to take away from how great of man Abraham Lincoln was but to not allow the current day republican party to paint Lincoln as a Saint and President Obama as Satan himself.

    January 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • small 'c' christian

      Logic

      (Note: Intended to erase the quote before posting.)

      Or did some greater power stay your hand, I wonder?

      January 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  11. EK

    This attempt to paint Obama as a second coming combo of MLK and Lincoln is a huge stretch and ill-conceived. We are still looking for our next Lincoln and next MLK. Obama certainly isn't it. We can only hope he or she appears sooner rather than later.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Raider4Life

      EK, be honest. I want you to truly think about your comment and reflect. During both Lincoln's and King's days, neither were iconic at the time. Do you agree? Indeed, it was history that made them iconic. And, I promise you the years to come, it won't sound like a "huge stretch". I'm guessing you are not a history major.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Akira

      Raider: correct.
      Both men were extremely unpopular by their detractors in their time.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  12. Chad

    Obama ends oath with 'So help me God"

    January 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Akira

      Probably because he believes in God.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Chad

      @Akira "Probably because he believes in God."
      => Exactly !!!!!!

      January 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      So what?

      January 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • sam

      Time for Chad-logic.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      You've lost us, what does that prove? That Obama, like many many presidents before him, believe in god.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Our presidents swear in on the bible, reference him continually, and yet somehow it's the christians who are "oppressed" in the US. Christian logic. Go figure.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Chad

      It proves that no matter how discouraging and down I get, I can always remember that we have a Christian in the White House, and as long as that is the case, God may use that person to turn this nation back to Him.

      Obama endorses social policies that are unmistakably wrong, but I would rather have a Christian in office than a Mormon. There is ALWAYS a chance that God will correct Obama's viewpoint.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Ugh, what a weak response. "Unmistakeably wrong social policies"? That's opinion, and a bad one at that.

      "Rather a christian in the white house than a mormon" – Considering Mormons are also followers of christ I fail to see the distinction.

      Stop, before you embarras.s yourself any further.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Cosette

      @Chad-Do not be disheartened. God can use any person to bless our nation and turn it back to its strong foundation on biblical principles. :)

      January 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Cosette/Chad

      If god could do that, why can't god, the all powerful, just do it himself, or send down another jesus, or just appear, I am positive if god just waved down from the sky and spoke to America, the nation would turn to god REAL quick.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Cosette

      @Chuckles, That is true that God can change the tides in a swift second. All I know is that we have been endowed by our creator with a purpose in life and we need to fulfill that God given purpose in this life and be kind and compassionate.

      January 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Cosette

      and how do you "know" this? Did you read it in a book? Did god tell you "Hey Cosette, I've endowed you with some stuff, be really nice to people! Except of course the bad ones, the jews, the muslims, really any heretic, gay people (got to hate gay people) and so on. Wooooo compassion!"

      January 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Cosette

      @Chuckles, Yes, you can start with the Bible and pray to God for discernment. I am sure you will find your God given purpose when you read the Bible and ask God for help.

      January 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Cosette

      Seems pretty presumptuous to think I haven't already read the bible. That was foolish of and this whole "ask god" thing. I did once but he kept saying "Kill all infidels"

      What does your god say to you in your head?

      January 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Cosette

      @Chuckles, God of the Bible asks me to be a charitable Christian.

      January 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Cosette

      Shucks! My god of the bible is way meaner, is it because I'm a better christian than you and so he entrusts me with a greater mission?

      January 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Cosette

      @Chuckles, I see a kind, loving, compassionate God in the Bible and yes he is to be revered and worshipped.
      Probably Chad can answer your question better.

      January 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Cosette

      Which bible are you reading? Mine begins by literally drowning the entire earth and then forcing a family to inc.estually restart earth's population, there's also the whole smiting other people like the egyptians because they're heretics, or the amalekites and so on. Guy seems pretty terrible.

      THEN, and just you wait, THEN god decides to impregnate a virgin, thus making her give birth in the most painful way ever and completely ignoring the sancti.ty of marriage so he can have a kid who will get tortured and killed in a gruesome way.

      Your god seems pretty mean, that or we're reading two separate bibles, which is entirely possible.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chuckles -

      Cosette is one of Chad's sockpuppets. Don't let him play you.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Really-O?

      Fair enough.

      Noted

      January 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Really-O?

      The following quotes were posted by Chad on this blog in a single thread. Just thought the forum might be interested.

      (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/21/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-monday-january-21-2013/comment-page-1
      Starting at January 21, 2013 at 10:17 am)

      "I sure am proud to have a Black Christian as the president of the United States of America."

      "I'm proud that the USA finally elected a Black President."

      "That's why I'm so proud of the nation that we were able to continue to move in the right direction and elect a black president."

      "The more you live and work in an environment that has people of all nationalities, races and genders...the less you tend to think about race or gender."
      -–Really? So if one didn't work in a mult-cultural environment, race and gender would be pressing issues? And what about sexual orientation, Chad? Still OK to discriminate against the LGBT, right?

      "I'm proud that the USA continues to elect Christians as President."

      "what atheist ever did anything of significance for the civil rights cause?"

      I'd wager Dr. King would be disgusted by Chad's discrimination against those who's sexual preference is different than his. Chad dishonors Dr. King's legacy when he trots his name out as support for his smarmy ploy

      The concept of race (based on phenotype – such as the amount of melanin in the skin – this is what Chad means when he uses the word) has largely been discredited and discarded due to our recent understanding of the human genome. Any discrimination (sexual orientation included, Chad) is reprehensible. Seems clear to me we have a closet bigot on our hands and I'd be willing to bet Chad is in denial.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "Cosette: Probably Chad can answer your question better."

      LOL. Chad is simply pathetic

      January 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Science

      Chad tends to insert foot into his mouth on a daily basis lately....
      Science

      NEW see date .

      Evolution at its best !

      Published on Jan 15, 2013
      Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans—people physically identical to us today—left their African homeland and entered Europe, then a bleak and inhospitable continent in the grip of the Ice Age. But when they arrived, they were not alone: the stocky, powerfully built Neanderthals had already been living there for hundred of thousands of years. So what happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did we make love or war? That question has tantalized generations of scholars and seized the popular imagination. Then, in 2010, a team led by geneticist Svante Paabo announced stunning news. Not only had they reconstructed much of the Neanderthal genome—an extraordinary technical feat that would have seemed impossible only a decade ago—but their analysis showed that "we" modern humans had interbred with Neanderthals, leaving a small but consistent signature of Neanderthal genes behind in everyone outside Africa today. In "Decoding Neanderthals," NOVA explores the implications of this exciting discovery. In the traditional view, Neanderthals differed from "us" in behavior and capabilities as well as anatomy. But were they really mentally inferior, as inexpressive and clumsy as the cartoon caveman they inspired? NOVA explores a range of intriguing new evidence for Neanderthal self-expression and language, all pointing to the fact that we may have seriously underestimated our mysterious, long-vanished human cousins.
      CategoryEducation
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R00ZT_1JU1g

      Education works BEST !
      So does your DNA, take a blood test and figure it out !
      Simple to do OK !
      To many Adams and Eves in gene pool for the bible's creation story.
      Courts have ruled can't teach creation as fact in public shools in the US.
      Means evolution WINS hands dfown, it is time for god(s) religion to get tghe HELL out of the way OK
      Peace

      January 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Logic

      Ahhh, so courts are always right then? I'll wager that you can find some laws that you find offensive. So that means it's decided once and for all, because the "almighty court" has made it so?

      As for evolution winning, why have scientists NEVER been able to show ONE SINGLE piece of proof of observed speciation?

      Courts have ruled can't teach creation as fact in public shools in the US.
      Means evolution WINS hands dfown, it is time for god(s) religion to get tghe HELL out of the way OK
      Peace

      January 23, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • Logic

      (Note: Intended to erase the quote before posting.)

      January 23, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Jim T

      The Devil believes in God too. Believing in God doesn't mean you're right with Him. You can disbelieve or believe in Judges in a courthouse and still commit crimes. Either way, the Judges exist and you'll eventually face them. Either you'll be surprised and it'll shock your mind or it wont. You're still going down.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  13. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    And again Stevie P missed an important point about BO's election: (from a PowerPoint slide)

    The irony of ironies–

    IF THE PILL AND MALE CONDOMS WERE USED PROPERLY, ABORTION WOULD NOT BE AN ISSUE AND OBAMA WOULD NOT BE PRESIDENT.

    Added details available upon request.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    January 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Akira

      And again there have been numerous Presidents since Roe V Wade that that have been elected for the same reason BO was: they got the most votes.

      The abortion issue has NOTHING to do with why BO was elected, twice, and you this fallacy on every page ISN'T going to make it so.
      Print your public service announcement; just stop with that erroneous garbage about Roe V. Wade being the reason he was elected. It's not.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Roger that

      I thought Reality was implying that Obama would not be president had his dad used a condom.

      January 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Akira

      Lol, funny!
      Nah, that's not what he meant; read his other posts on this blog regarding his opinion on why BO won the election this time; he links it to abortions.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Reality

      As requested:

      Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

      Once again, all the conservative votes in the country did not help the "pro-life" presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?
      The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

      2008 Presidential popular vote results:

      69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

      2012 Presidential popular vote results
      65,899,660 for pro-abortion/choice BO 60,929,152 for pro-life MR

      And the irony:

      And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

      The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      January 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Spam, spam, spam, spam....

      January 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I love Roger That's interpretation! It makes a lot more sense than the idiotic premise of Reality's interminable drivel.

      Sofa king stupid.

      January 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the new members of this blog. All others, please scroll to another item.

      The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
      - (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      - (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
      Followed by:
      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      January 22, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Akira

      Reality, you are assuming that every one who voted for BO IS pro-choice; that simply isn't true, and all you did was post the popular vote for each candidate.
      So?
      There are MANY people who are anti-abortion that voted Democratic, and I rather dislike your insinuation that all Dems are _________(insert you stereotype here) and all Republicans are _________.
      You are just furthering divisiveness- and do we really need more of that?

      January 28, 2013 at 1:46 am |
  14. Aili

    dood.. you can't even compare the two because 1) lincoln was white obama is well not. 2) lincoln was honest and obama is not and 3) lincoln changed the lives of millions by fighting for civil rights while obama the only thing he's done is changed how American's view democrats.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Aili

      exscuse me a filthy piece of crap? really? hun I'm already in hell and I can tell you this it'd be so much better without people who jump to abortions and calling people pigs. you sure do know how to come up with a fantastic rebuttal to my cleary right point. bravo give yourself a pat on the back

      January 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Sly

      Ho ho ho ... Aili, disregard Brenda. We love having folks like you on here to remind us how smart Sarah Palin is.

      You cannot imagine how fun it is to watch you TeaBillies cry in your panties, while your party goes down to what, 11% Republicans now?

      President Obama will have another great 4 years, and then Hillary or Biden will run this great nation for 8 more years.

      You are actually wrong about point #1, as President Obama is indeed white. Every read anything about his mother.

      Anyhow, our President is a hero, there is nothing in Congress that can stop him, since the American people view Obama in a 65% favorable rating, while they view Congress, because of the Republicans, in a 18% favorable.

      Suffice to say, our President WILL get gun control, health care reform, and gay marriage – all providing civil rights just as President Lincoln would want.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Aili

      whoa first off I'm not republican. Second off sarah palin is a joke and McCain was an idiot to have chosen her as vp. But just cuz I'm not republican and that I am democratic doesn't mean I have to agree with Obama. The only heroic thing about him is that he is the first black president. Honestly, our country would be way better with Hillary as our leader not some idiot who still isn't getting how to run our country and fix bush's mess.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • US Christians

      "1) lincoln was (100%) white, obama is (50%) white. –
      2) lincoln was honest according to what was written about him by friends but everyone who knew him personally is dead.
      3) lincoln changed the lives of millions by fighting for the rights of a young black or half black man wanting to become President, or any other nationality for that matter. Obama accepted that honor and will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had. History is written by the winners so there is no doubt in my mind how Obama will be remembered while most will have already forgotten old Willard Whats-his-name...

      January 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • icurheinie

      Errr, and Lincoln was a Republican.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • mama k

      Listen, Aili – I like Hillary, but guess what – she would have had to deal with the idiotic House of Representatives as well. No politician is very honest. That goes with that type of work. Maybe you should read a bit of Will Rogers before you try to differentiate Lincoln's honesty versus Obama's.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • sam

      ESL, or public school dropout?

      January 22, 2013 at 5:04 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.