November 14th, 2011
09:41 PM ET

Bob Jones III latest Christian leader to doubt Obama's Christianity

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Bob Jones III, chancellor of the fundamentalist South Carolina university that bears his family’s name, has become the latest conservative Christian leader to publicly cast doubt on President Barack Obama’s stated Christian commitment.

"I've no reason to think he's a Christian,” Jones told National Journal in an interview published Saturday. “Anyone can say he's a Christian.

“Some people will say whatever they think the politically helpful thing would be,” Jones said. “I say, 'Where is the evidence that he is a Christian?' "

Jones is an influential conservative leader in South Carolina, home to one of the nation’s key Republican primaries next year. Bob Jones University, where Jones served as president from 1971 to 2005, is a popular stop for GOP candidates courting Christian votes.

This year, evangelical leader Franklin Graham questioned Obama’s Christian commitment, telling ABC News that for Obama, “going to church means he’s a Christian,” while for Graham, “the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ.”

Last year, Graham insisted that Obama was born a Muslim, though the president hasn’t said that.

“I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim; his father was a Muslim,” Graham told CNN’s John King in August 2010. “The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother.

"Now, it's obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed, and he has renounced Islam, and he has accepted Jesus Christ,” Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, continued. “That is what he says he has done. I cannot say that he hasn't. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said."

Polls show that a minority of Americans can correctly identify Obama’s Christian faith. Obama writes about accepting Jesus in his book “Dreams from My Father,” and he regularly prays with a handful of Christian pastors.

In the interview with National Journal, Jones said that he hasn’t endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as he did in the 2008 cycle, partly because he believes that a Mormon candidate won’t face as many obstacles among Christian voters in next year’s primaries.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity

soundoff (953 Responses)
  1. JohnQuest

    I never thought the President was a believer, unfortunately in this country you can't get elected dog catcher if it is known that you are smart enough to have your own thoughts. I think he's smart enough to know that, most politicians are.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • William Demuth

      Athiest either learn to lie, or they learn to run.

      You can lose your job and even your life by simply saying you think Christianity is a cult.

      But some of us have had enough. It is all lies, from begining to end, that is used as a means to defraud the weak and molest the vulnerable.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  2. William Demuth

    This type of puke is why God invented assasination.

    What a bigoted piece of human waste.

    We either purge our society of these brain washed simpletons, or we fight another civil war.

    November 15, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Mirosal

      You really can't think like that. You're saying what the thumpers say about us Atheists. Please, don't stoop down to their level. Just use your logic and reasoning to make them see that there has never been proof of ANY god .. EVER ... throughout history, and this "god" is no different than the thousands before it

      November 15, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • William Demuth

      Sorry, but the passive athiest is the dead athiest.

      Theese lunatics are dragging my country into the toilet, and our world to the brink of their beloved armageddeon.

      I have seen this before both today and thru the lens of history.

      This is a sickness, a cancer on the collective mind of humanity, and it needs to be removed by any and all means.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • Utah Gary

      WD, if I tossed in a few "those athiests" into your last comment you would be sounding exactly like the Christian nutcases that you aren't fond of. I could be wrong, but it seems to me a non-passive athiest isn't that different from a non-passive Christian; one proclaims "there is" and seeks to influence the process, the other proclaims "there isn't" and likewise seeks to influence the process. While opposed to my faith, your faith doesn't sound all that different.

      All that said...I have a pretty healthy degree of scepticism regarding the alleged faith of ALL the national power-seekers...Obama, Bush, Romney, et al. It seems a little too convenient that Jones and Graham the Young only find it necessary to comment on the Christian/Muslim faith of the Dem but not comment on the "Cult" that they probably believe Romney/Huntsman are members of.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • William Demuth


      Only one group can win.

      They are willing to crush you and your rights. I f you are unwilling to do the same, YOU LOSE.

      I have spent half a century trying to live and let live, and I have had my rights trampled, my country desecrated and my society dragged backwards a thousand years.

      Enough. I stand willing to use THEIR methods against them.

      What will finally wake you up? Mushroom clouds?

      November 15, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Utah Gary

      Different perspectives on the end-game, it seems. Mushroom clouds, Muslim swarms, world plague, Armageddon, second coming...they all end it for us here on the big blue marble. You won't WIN, I won't WIN.

      November 15, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  3. Doc Vestibule

    An evangelical Christian asking "where is the evidence"?
    Perhaps we can ask some of the geologists on the teaching staff what the evidence is for the Young Earth Creationism that is taught at BJU. Oh dear – no geologists you say?
    Being on the forefront of Christian acceptance and love, BJU began accepting black students a mere decade after other schools had been legally forced to integrate – and even then would only accept married black students.
    In order to live up to their Chrsitan ethos, they made the new students feel ever so welcome by adopting harsh penalties against not only practicing, but merely advocating interracial relationships right up until the millenium.
    Current reasons for expulsion include any hints of hom.ose.xuality, possession of p0rn, or political activism not expressly supported by the school.
    It seems that in order to fit their bill of what a Christian should be, Obama will have to publically reject scientific consensus and condemn his parents for their unholy, interracial union.

    November 15, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • John Richardson

      Exactly. Bob Jones U is every bot as big a joke as it sounds like it would be. These people are thoroughgoing bigots, always have been, always will be.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  4. david mann

    I went to school with BJIII. He was a hypocritical petty tyrant then and he's still one. All the Jones HATED Billy Graham because he left Bob Jones University and went to Wheaton College. It was the unforgivable sin to disagree with anything THEY said. You couldn't be a christian if you didn't think everything that fell out of old BJ's mouth was the absolute "Gospel". I lasted 2 years there then I went to Wheaton myself. Much better school. Bobby III is a total wingnut

    November 15, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  5. angryersmell

    I stopped caring about what Bob Jones III thinks of President Obama's religious beliefs as soon as I hit the word: "fundamentalist".

    November 15, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  6. AtheistSteve

    I put this up as a reply to Jacqui on page 9 who brought up the whole Jesus died on the cross thing.

    Of all the times I post on this blog it never ceases to amaze me how people believe in this Christianity thing without giving a moments pause to some fundamental problems within their doctrine. A few topics back I asked any believer to provide even one tiny detail about their God... I got nothing!!!
    So todays question is this.
    Why does your God require sacrifice...of any sort? In the Old Testament god was appeased by animal sacrifice. Remember that Abel was favored by god for his burnt offering of flesh while Cain was chastised for merely offering his crop of produce. In the New Testament Gods requirement is escalated to human sacrifice...of his own son no less. Why is the taking of life necessary to God? How can any thinking individual agree that this is a reasonable need for an all powerful being to accomplish his ends? Further if God "must" have a life offered to accomplish his ends then such a being is more desreving of contempt than worship. But perhaps there is something I'm missing here that some Christian can enlighten me about. Do tell...Why is god so blood thirsty?

    November 15, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • Mirosal

      You'll never get the true answer that man made "god" and man is blood-thristy... but I DO hope some thumper uses their moldy book to answer your qustion

      November 15, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @AtheistSteve: The christards have probably seen this and are off praying to the sky daddy to deliver you from evil while thinking that if you don't repent you'll be burning.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • Mirosal

      Don't you just love how the thumpers think that anyone who isn't like them is evil, and either pray for our conversion (read:brain-washing) or our ruination ... gee what lovely atti.tudes reading that book gives you huh?

      November 15, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yup. "God loves you. If you don't believe in Him, he'll burn you."

      Gotta love that line of thinking. To what end would a supreme creator make a world full of people, allow them free will, and then threaten them with eternal damnation when they choose freely? Why does such a being require fear? Worship? Obedience? What purpose does this creation of His serve? Is it just His personal X-box 360?

      November 15, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Mirosal: Wanna hear brainwashing?? An old friend of mine posted on facebook that her 6 year old daughter told them she wanted to read to them and then proceeded to give her version of Luke 15. Not cute in my opinion, when a 6 year old has been given that as a guiding force....a mere babe with no comprehension of what the buybull stands for outside of what her parents are drilling in to her little head.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Mirosal

      If this "god" really needs worship and obedience, then "god" hasa MASSIVE inferiority complex and needs serious therapy. I'm not going to be an enabler!!!

      November 15, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      LOL @ Tom Tom

      Yeah ...Gods very own version of The Sims.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Mirosal

      If those parents are proud of that fact, then your old friend needs new material. Might I suggest anything from the 21st century, like a Leap-frog, rather than something from the first century?

      November 15, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • JA

      @Atheist Steve,

      Even as a Christian, thoughts like yours pop into my mind from time to time. If He is so powerful, referring to the OT, why do we have to kill an innocent animal for our sins? My honest answer? That's a good question. I'm not sure how I am compared to other Christians, but I take it as it is. Ive stated in other blogs about why animal sacrifices were required in the OT. But this isnt about that. This is about "above all Why?" I cannot give you a reason because I believe His love and works are beyond all human fathoming. Oh, and I am not that kind of Christian who condemns everyone for not believing the same way I do. Do I think you are goin to that burning place? Nope, not my call. For all I know you are a good person and just hasnt been provided with enough evidence to support a belief in a deity. I do commend you for searching. I just hope that one day my belief is right and I get to spend eternity with all my friends and family. Thats all I rely on. Take it or leave it. It's all I got.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @JA: At least you're open-minded to the fact that others believe differently. AtheistSteve may not be a believer but he's one of a kind. He saved me from an abusive relationship; has supported me through 2.5 years of healing from that; he goes out of his way for people and is always there when asked. Steve was raised as a catholic and most of his family are. We attend church for funerals and weddings to support our loved ones and friends. The bottom line for us is being happy.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • JA

      I'm glad you're happy. Take care.

      November 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • AtheistSteve


      Thanks for your reply. At least your response of "I don't know" is intellectually honest even if part of the justification uses the tired old "God works in mysterious ways" line.

      Part of what I'm trying to do here is highlight foundational unknowns around which the Christian faith is built. If you step away from the Bible and ask these questions it becomes apparent that no answers are forthcoming. When I posted my first question.."What or Who is God?" I was accused of asking a loaded question. I don't think it's loaded at all. The entire foundation of religious belief is centered around the existence of this God but all we have to go on is Gods resume(what he has done, what he wants, what he offers etc.)...not the tiniest description of who or what God IS. That's a pretty glaring gap.
      The list of unknowns is large and each is central to the foundation of Christianity.

      Who or what is God?
      How does one determine that they possess a soul? Or that an afterlife exists?
      What does a perfect being(God) need worship for?
      Why would a perfect being(God) be angry or jealous? Those are petty human failings.
      Original sin? Adam and Eve were created perfect yet even they fell from Gods grace. And all of humanity since is tainted with sin. This is moral?
      Why does God require sacrifice? It is within his power to simply forgive isn't it?
      Why bother with the entire Jesus, son of God, drama. God could have simply absolved all OT sin without the screenplay.
      If God has a plan for how things will occur, then what use is prayer? Isn't that like asking him to alter his plan?
      Why does God allow Satan to thwart his plan? How is it fair to be merely human and toyed with by a supernatural, evil, spirit(Anti-God).
      Why Does God allow Satan to possess the souls of sinners? Why Did God permit Satan to establish Hell?
      The OT abounds with mind numbing, grandiose physics defying miracles..The NT has Jesus performing parlour tricks by comparison...today we have...nothing.

      I could go on and on but you get the idea.

      And as an example of a real loaded question here is one we atheists confront all the time.
      What is the meaning of life? This question is loaded because it begins with the presupposition that life was created with INTENT. We have no verifiable way to determine is this true.

      November 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • JA

      @ AtheistSteve

      All very good questions you have, and I would like to know the answers to most of these also. Do you think everyone would believe if they knew all those answers? I think possibly. Do i believe that God wants us all to believe? Definately. But if He did exist, do you think He would hand all those answers to you on a silver platter? Or do you think He would want you to work for those answers. Maybe some of them cannot be answered untill we were face to face with Him (if He exists anyway). Do i think All the answers are in the Bible. No. But i do believe it is a tool to point us in the right direction to find them. It's like that saying....If football was easy, everyone would do it. But that saying is also true for atheism. It's not easy on both of our parts. We both receive a lot of disrespect and negative feedback. I wanna thank you ahead of time for being respectful with me. I know we both wont get that much in these blogs. Take care.

      November 16, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • J.W

      I like how there were like 5 insults here before anyone ever had a chance to answer the question.

      November 16, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • fred

      If we cannot understand the simple things of God how can we possibly understand the complicated? One cannot take calculus without knowledge of algebra and before that it would be helpful to understand addition and subtraction. Most children learn addition and multiplication through flash cards and the like via repeti-tion. Is it logical to assume this is how we learn?
      The oracles of God were given to the Hebrews then through the writings of Moses and the Prophets the “will of God” was made known to them through the Scriptures. The reason I bring this up is because the God of the Abraham presents himself as the one true God. Everything we know about this one true God from the time of creation to now is contained in the Word of God. We cannot discuss this God without reference to Scripture anymore than we can discuss calculus without the truth in various texts. In order to do that we cannot skip some of the books and jump from addition to binomial equations then spend our lives arguing about why the author used a plus sign instead of a smiley face for the operation of addition. As an atheist Steve you should find it intellectually dishonest to demand someone discuss God without the use of Scripture that contains the revelation of God as presented to man. If this is the case then we can make progress in reconciling the atheist world view and the Christian world view.
      So, what about blood sacrifice? In the Garden which God created there was perfect relationship between God and man. There was no death only perfect life in unity with the creator. This was the design and when God completed his work of creation he said it was very good. Man rejected God which forever shattered perfect unity. Man without God was exposed, naked and sinful before a Holy God. God killed an animal bringing about the first death in that perfect creation. Life was in the blood of the animal and that life was taken, blood was shed, as a covering for man before a Holy God. In children’s pictures we see Adam and Eve in the Garden with typically a leopard skin outfit. Here we have Gods first flash cards for his children. Blood was shed for mans sin. Back to my first paragraph it is how we learn so this card is shown over and over. Why? It keeps the source of trouble right in front of us at all times. It is important for our spiritual maturity and a foundation for redemption. This is what sin does (separates us from God, brings death), this is the origin of sin (man rejects God); this is the key to redemption (we are covered by Christ and in Christ we are again united with God). It is finished Jesus said on the cross when his blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin.
      Steve, generation after generation of Hebrews through ceremony and tradition would display the blood sacrifice flash cards each time reinforcing the acknowledgement of their sinful nature and a Holy God who not only created them but made a way for them to return to God in perfect unity. The Catholics keep this tradition alive but, they added some twists of their own. Even so Catholics are reminded by their tradition of the blood that was shed. Such slight twisting will not keep one from unity with God and as a flash card it does a decent job of reinforcing key doctrine.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  7. Stephen

    Why does CNN make a point of digging up hateful losers like this and giving them cred by quoting their filth as news? This guy is as Christian as Jaba Hut. While I sometimes enjoy a good laugh at breakfast, there's so much of this idiocy that it is nauseating.

    November 15, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  8. Jen

    I don't think Bob Jones III is really a male. He should take off his pants and show the world his penis. This moron should NOT be in the news! Get a LIFE!!!!! Worry about how this country is going to overcome the financial mess that is a reality now. Focus on the millions of children starving in Africa. Focus on reading the Bible in totality and learning that God doesn't want us to JUDGE PEOPLE. Bob Jones is a bad Christian. He judges people and that is a sin. Bob Jones, shut your mouth, please.

    November 15, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Jen; the only difference between him and you is the version you spew. He claims to be christian and so do you, so who are you to judge him? Neither of you can possibly demonstrate that what you speak has any basis in reality or more specifically the 21st century. Neither of you can demonstrate that this god creature said anything. Neither of you can demonstrate that this god creature even existed.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  9. Rich

    These born agains are easily led thats why W was kinda elected twice...And they are still at it with the religious garbage.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  10. johnmenacherjr

    Seriously I really don't give a cr@P!!! This guy is not even showing himself asa socalled christian. Who is he to cast judgement? This is my President. So throw your hissies.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  11. Rich

    Why not close all the schools and just listen to the Bob Joneses of the USA.This is why we are behind most countries education.
    We are more interested in who is closer to some fictional god

    November 15, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  12. Ted

    Notice how it is usually the "evangelicals" who talk this kind of smack? Seems like the "other Christians" don't carry the same kind of hatred around.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • angryersmell

      Even if Obama proved to be a "secret muslim", us "other christians" would still dislike Bob Jones III more.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  13. Lee

    SOmeone raised the question of who cares what religion the President is, and they ae right. I remember when Kennedy was elected they made a big deal abouthim being the first Catholic president, but that's where it stopped.....no one questioned how Catholic he was...so why is Obama being questioned? The reason is because right wing fumdamentalists havetaken over this country and they care !!! I wouldnt care if he was Muslim...themanhas devoted his life to making a difference in our lives by taking the worst job in the world to do it....I woulnt care if he was Atheist...WHO CARES !!! Its not like he's going around the country trying toconvert people to his religion...why are right wing Christians so afraid....?

    November 15, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  14. Really

    Why is the christian right-wing so unchristian? I certainly don't want to be like them or study christianity along side them.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  15. kofi

    non-accredited university. I omitted the University

    November 15, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Question Please

      Does that mean that a "degree" from there has no real meaning anywhere else? Don't bite my head off, I just want to be clear on what that means please.

      November 15, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I can't imagine many employers who don't share precisely the same values as Bob Jones having much respect for a degree from his university.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  16. Erik in Houston

    Of course, it's his grandfather that once said he'd "rather have a n***** in the White House than a Catholic [Al Smith]." That's not Christian at all. So, just consider the kind of mindset Bob Jones and his progency have, and you'll quickly dismiss their comments as insipid.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  17. kofi

    Why wont he hate Obama. His for profit , non-accredited is not being allow to fleece students by Obama Executive directives and so he is mad as hell.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  18. joe

    Come on people. And Media. It's time to come out of the closet and admit that Christianity just like Islam or any other religion is a farce. It's useful life is over. It's now the scientific era not the "we don't understand how the world works so we'll make up an omnipotent God that can't even defeat his arch rival and then threaten the masses with banishment from the group" era.

    The religious in this country are an embarrassment.–uneducated, irrational and ceaselessly trying to force their ignorance on others.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Lycidas

      Your factless and biased opinion has been noted.

      November 15, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Lycidas: care to point out what is factless about this?

      November 15, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  19. some guy in New Hampshire

    I doubt whether Bob Jones is a Christian. He might profess belief in the resurrection but, as William Penn said, "To be a Christian is to behave like Christ." Don't see a lot of that from the Bob Joneses of the world.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  20. A. Anderson

    Hence the false doctrine of the Bob Jones family line.... no one comes to the father but through Christ and the judgement of Bob Jones. South Carolina should distance themselves from this kind of heracy.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:39 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.