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. Tom

    Bob Jones III wouldn't know Jesus if he looked him in the eye. Worse, he would probably even say to Jesus's face that he isn't a Christian. Who is Bob Jones to judge anyone? If he truly believed his own religion then he would let God do the judging instead of a mere mortal and sinner such as himself.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • IXQUS

      A Savior would let the Word be their basis of judgment. Doubting one's relationship with God's Son, that is all politics, far removed from the Father or His Son.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:25 am |
  2. Observer

    Sure wish Republicans could make up their minds to be consistent in the stories they make up.

    So did President Obama spend too little time in church or did President Obama spend too much time in church at the United Church of Christ?

    November 15, 2011 at 3:17 am |
  3. SixDegrees

    Bob Jones – a leader among the American Taliban known as the evangelical church.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:14 am |
  4. Synapse

    This just in...
    Due to his NON-adherence to the basic tenets of the religion- Jesus is questioning Bob Jones' Christianity.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  5. Observer

    "I've no reason to think he's a Christian."

    That's fine. President Obama probably has no reason to think Jones is intelligent.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  6. matthouston

    Wow, this is incredible. Some Americans are so infantile and stupid that they even judge each other by the merits of who believes in the invisible man in the sky more than them. Unbelievable, pointless and counter to the teachings of their own religions.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:10 am |
  7. Riteaidbob

    Obama belkieves in "Collective salvation" and that is NOT the teaching of Christ. Obama is a fraud.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Gaunt

      Of all the many horrible things about you zealots, this is one of the worst. Every single one of you believes in a different version of a different sect of a god, there are dozens of denominations, and hundreds of sub-sects, and even within those you all pick and choose what dictates and lessons you are going to follow to suit your own bigotries and opinions.

      And yet despite the flagrant hypocricy of each and every one of you, you still feel that you are qualified to debate whether a public figure is 'properly Christian' or not. As I (unlike most of you zealots) have actually read your holy book, I'm reasonably certain that the entire NT is REPLETE with comments about it is NOT UP TO YOU to judge the faith of others, or to Judge others at all.

      But for people so founded in hypocricy, I suppose flagrantly ignoring one of the central teachings of their supposed holy book is par for the course.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • Cogito

      RiteAidBob, Clean up in aisle three.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  8. Jon

    Where's the evidence that Bob Jones III is a Christian of any sort?

    November 15, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • johnmichaelmaximilian

      More than that, where's the proof that Bob Jones III is not, in fact, part of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Anyone can step up to a pulpit and pretend to be a Christian minister, but I have yet to see any evidence than Jones isn't a Pastafarian.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • Cogito


      November 15, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  9. Prince of Common Cents

    So, when Obama publicly states on national television that he "believes that Jesus Christ is LORD!" that STILL means that he's not a CHRISTIAN?!? What will it take for the ultra-conservative, Christian right-wing lunatics to accept this President as he is?!? (Without regard to race, color of skin or backbround):

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2rOpXLwiP8&w=420&h=315%5D

    November 15, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • Livelystone

      Good Post

      Ones personal belief in Jesus Christ is the only determining factor for being a member of the Christian religion

      Whether or not someone lives a Christian life is determined only by God and not by Bob Jones

      November 15, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    • Linda

      I think maybe you would be interested in these quotes from the President's own writings:
      In Obama’s book, DREAMS OF MY FATHER..and THE AUDACITY Of HOPE

      In Obama’s book THE AUDACITY Of HOPE

      * He wrote “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

      In Obama’s book, DREAMS OF MY FATHER..


      * “I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites”

      * “That hate hadn’t gone away,” he wrote, blaming “white people — some cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives.”However, while campaigning in Kansas, Obama frequently emphasized that his mother was white, and that he had grown up in a predominantly white world.

      * (Obama) vowed that he would “never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn’t speak to my own. It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.”

      just something to think about

      November 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Linda.... again **sigh**

      Did you get that piece in a chain e-mail? It would behoove you to check out the facts regarding it before your spread it around like a bad cold...


      November 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  10. JoeT

    Good thing I have these Pharisees to judge everyone else's faith.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  11. Kay

    Bob Jones is such a nasty, small-minded, religious bigot of a man. Why would or should anyone be surprised that he's turning out such pathetic kids?

    November 15, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • jorge

      This is what relegion is all about (HATE). And hatemonger like this %&#@ is what turning people away from relegion as a whole.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  12. KPJ

    Who gives a rats azz.......People get a life and quit trying to live obama's. I bet Bob Jones could not pass muster to be President. I am sure he's got lots of skeletons in his redneck closet. Quit throwing stones Jones it makes your sheets show.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:47 am |
  13. Big Wave Dave

    "Please God, save me from your "followers".

    November 15, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Amen to that, Big Wave Dave!


      November 15, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • jorge

      second that

      November 15, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • John

      You are so right.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  14. Cogito

    Who makes this stuff up? The "seed of Islam" passes through the father and the "seed of Judaism" passes through the mother? I suppose the seed of televangelism passes through their a$$es.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • clearfog

      Ergo Bum

      November 15, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Kay

      Why, religious zealots who are in league with the devil are the ones who make this stuff up. Bob Jones is a cretin and I can't imagine that his kids didn']t turn out the same.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Observer


      The whole thing is just too seedy.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  15. Montana

    Bob Jones really needs to go search for the Lord to learn his lessons and most importantly GET A LIFE. This Jones is anything but a leader and one would hope that university could do better.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Mirosal

      When you base your life around a fictional book, just how real can your life really be?

      November 15, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  16. sherm

    Actions speak louder than words and he does not do or live the way Christ like ppl are suppose to!

    November 15, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • clearfog

      You mean like eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their founder.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • Smite Me


      Maybe you could act out your post in charades or something - your words are very weak and meaningless.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • John

      clearfog, the symbolic eat the fleash and drinking the blood is spiritual not literally. Geesh.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • Cogito

      @John: Among Catholics, transubstantiation IS considered literal, NOT symbolic.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  17. Pete from St Paul

    Pretty soon they will invent 'A Church Of America' and let out a statement that to be President one has to belong to this 'Church' Then I will say why the president, how about congress, governor, mayor, sheriff, judges; et al. The leader of this Church Of America (which will be a Christian Taliban) will be required to be Southern Born and will become like a Pope.
    To be elected to any political office in America one will has to be of this faith.
    Okay what about the Jews……. hmnnn
    “The Jews, eh?”
    What the heck…………..damn!

    November 15, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Mirosal

      Go ahead, YOU invent that church. But, there's a little matter of that thing we like to call the U.S. Consti.tution. That might hinder the rest of your point. Sure, you can over-ride that pesky 1st amendment, but it will take the Senators, Representi.tives, and 38 of the 50 states to do so. Yeah, good luck with that.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • Sheesh!

      Earth to Mirosal. Pete from St Paul was using sarcasm.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  18. clearfog

    I do not believe that Obama is a Christian. At least I hope he is not. I have heard him talk. He is way too smart to accept that primitive belief system. He just says he is for political reasons. Nothing wrong with that; it is way better than having someone who really is a Christian as president. Want a list? Perry, Palin, Bachmann.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Kay

      The are more intellectual intellectual Christians out there who have set aside the childish things (all the hocus pocus and literalism) in favor of a modern read of the scriptures that includes what is now known about basic human psychology, mythology, cultural evolution, biology, ecology, sociology, etc. In fact, there are people who no longer believe in a literal heaven or hell, a literal resurection of Jesus, the creation myth, the flood myth, and so forth.

      If you haven't already realized this, the reason you don't hear as much about these people is that they don't tend to make for good soundbites since they actually walk the walk and not just talk the talk the hypocrites do.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  19. Atheist

    If religionists are going to use their pulpit to campaign for or against a candidate, they need to start taxing them, like every other political action committee.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • Kay

      Amen to that! Although, if I had my way, they'd all be taxed anyway. There's no reason for our nation to give special priveleges to the churches while so many are suffering from lack of care.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • polycarp pio

      Dont worry you will eventually get your wish the church will be taxed but that will not hinder the true Christians. I am sorry you have chosen to ignore the measure of faith that is in you and every man, your mind has been blinded by your folly. I do not question the presidents faith when he states he is a Christian and neither should anyone else . We are all at different levels of spiritual maturity, to bad the infants that make these judgments about others and their faith are the ones that get the attention. I hope you come to use the faith that you have and put aside this atheistic snobery. PP

      November 15, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @PP: Faith is believing without evidence. As for the Atheistic Snobery...look in a mirror recently? Atheists are saying that we do not believe in god. We do not have book of refuted myths to live by. Most Atheists accept things with evidence...where is your evidence for what you believe in? We believe that science holds the answers the mysteries of his earth. So if living in the 21st century and according to the updated evidence we have is snobbery, so be it. As least we have grown up and we have stopped believing in fairy tales.

      November 15, 2011 at 4:41 am |
  20. Kenneth

    “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."

    By this train of thought then there is no such thing as a Christian. If we are connected to a religion by birth then how many true Christians, Atheist, Catholics, Hindu's, Muslims etc are there? Can ones religious affiliation be converted to another? Who are we to judge the beliefs of ANY man? Get over this self-righteous, my religion is better than yours mentality. In the end when your body is dust and you have left this plain of existence ... DOES IT MATTER WHAT RELIGION THE LEADER OF A COUNTRY CLAIMS???

    November 15, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • Pickles

      I would prefer, that like finances ... religion of Presidents be put in a Blind Trust ... and taken out (revealed) AFTER they leave office. I want my President to be President of ALL the people. No matter what their spiritual beliefs, party affiliation, moral code, financial or educational background. Don't we all get that THE real problem, is the elitist mentality in Wash DC? Their isn'y representation OF the People, BY the people.... there is only representation of the Special Interests, who can afford to buy access and influence. makes me wanna hurl ....

      November 15, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • Realitybites

      You're being too rational. It goes against the preaching of those like Jones. You see, if the followers of there religon were deep thinkers, can you imagine how many ho&* craps there'd be during a sermon.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:22 am |
    • Smite Me

      Pickles - "I would prefer, that like finances ... religion of Presidents be put in a Blind Trust ..."

      Hear! Hear!

      There is not a whit of a reason for a politician's religion to be part of his/her CV.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:35 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.