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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. Mark

    WOW! To what degree must I be able to speak in and understand the speaking of 'tongues' to validate my Christianity. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." and nor should you/we/I judge, then Mr., Bro., Pastor, Omniscient Jones, prove that Pres. Obama, or anyone else is false to their claim of worship. Furthermore, I am a Christian – please don't assert that I am wrong, but my teachings are based in the following of Jesus Christ, instead of say Marx, so I am a Christian....the is no Christian to the nth degree – You are or You are NOT!

    November 15, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Mark contains an instance of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      November 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Paul

    “I say, 'Where is the evidence that he is a Christian?' " -> Obama care, he wants to stop insurance from rejecting people after they get sick with cancer ... now, if that is not Christian, then you conservative Christians are a bunch of stupid gullible dishonest individuals.

    November 15, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Linda

      he also wants to make it the law that you must have insurance or suffer consequences for it.......do you think it's ok for the govt. to "make" me buy insurance?

      November 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  3. Temperance1

    Who cares if he's a Christian or not??!? This is a country based on an inclusive doctrine to include all religions, or lack thereof.

    There's a reason for separation of Church and State. And I'm happy to be a part of that.

    November 15, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • Paul

      spot on .. the USA were born on the very idea of avoiding religious persecution, of course, today religion is power ... so these guys tends to forget that

      November 15, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • The Veteran

      It is just a ploy to cast doubt, so people will choose old "mittens" over him. Make him not a Christian, so mittens will look like the best option in November...

      Conservatives are a cult. They are Christian when they act like it. They do the most damage to Christianity, and are the main reason (I believe) that Christianity is in decline in America...

      November 15, 2011 at 5:46 am |
  4. Paul

    Conservative Christian leader = racist

    November 15, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  5. Kathy

    Bob Jones and other crazy religious freaks are why we have Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Rick Santorm and Newt running for President. Well maybe not Newt as much since he talks about how religious he is but loves that new younger meat in the hospital parking lot while his wife struggles with cancer in a hospital bed.....

    November 15, 2011 at 5:07 am |
    • Paul

      yeah .. Kathy ... it's always the usual story .. and and no he has a $5000'000 account to buy jewelry ... yeah a real Christian who cares about his fellow citizens ... sure

      November 15, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  6. Tatmanca

    Obama is smart...smart enough to be an atheist and hide it.

    November 15, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • Paul

      I can live with that any day ... better than an idiot in WH, like we had with Bush

      November 15, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  7. AtheistSteve

    "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."

    And once again we have the "No True Scotsman Fallacy" at play. Funny how often Christians flip from one extreme (that person isn't a "real" Christian) to (This is a Christian nation or Christians comprise 85% of the population). You can't have it both ways you know. They're either in your camp or they're not. Christian ideologies are so varied that I doubt any one sect could claim even a large minority. No surprise to me however since it's all in your head and as such each persons faith has a membership of ONE.

    November 15, 2011 at 5:04 am |
  8. Tom Adams

    I never thought that right wing fundamentalist so-called Christians were very smart, but it seems that somehow they are always able to find a new level of stupid. Almost like a game, they try to outdo each other to show the world just how stupid they can be. Does anyone actually believe that your religious belief is passed down from your father encoded in your DNA?

    November 15, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  9. buckup

    what do expect from a hypocritical, non-christian facsist?

    November 15, 2011 at 4:47 am |
  10. ghaleon

    Because the #1 issue facing America is the president's religion.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:40 am |
    • Ohio Lady

      Better fight to keep Newt out then, for he dumped his wheelchair wife, and he dumped his other wife, and had multiple affairs which even he acknowledges.

      November 15, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • Mirosal

      yeah, that's MUCH more important than his views on the economy, foreign affairs, trade agreements, job market, educational reform ... yea the thing everyone needs to know is to which monument to mythology (church) he pays lip service to "god" .... if this is your primary concern, get your head out of that moldy 2000 year old book filled with 3000 year old stories and take a look at the REAL world around you. To quote a movie, "We have serious problems and we need serious people to solve them"... "god's" 15 minutes of fame are up, and no magical mystical super-natural being is going to swoop down kiss our boo-boos and make it all better by dinner time.

      November 15, 2011 at 5:05 am |
  11. Sfsteve

    Bob Jones represents a fringe wing of Christianity that promotes bigotry and hate. Unfortunately his university is pumping out a pipeline of idiots to further his cause. The emboldening of right wing Christian leaders to attack the president should be met with immediate removal of their church designation.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Ohio Lady

      You are absolutely correct. They have cameras all over their campus to spy on the students. If students hold hands or kiss, they get kicked out. But why do they even give an article like this the time of day on CNN.com? Who is stirring the pot, do you think?

      November 15, 2011 at 4:39 am |
    • Linda

      Sfsteve & Ohio Lady...wow you both seem to know so much about BJU that it sounds like you have been there...What?? You haven't you are just spouting inanity that you think you know about or have read rumors about the campus.
      First and foremost I am saved by the grace of God....I am a servant to my students in a public school setting....I am an earth nut....animal rescuer....fairly liberal in my beliefs and (gasp!) have may G&L&T friends....
      Yet I am also a graduate of BJU....so Sfsteve....you are so very wrong.
      His son is actually the president of the university and while I would definitely agree that the rules back in my day were very hard to live....students nowadays are actually treated like adults and are independent.
      Steve...there is no church designation.....they pay taxes like every other university.....it is a non-denominational school...check the website.
      Ohio Lady....there are no cameras watching students every move....sigh
      it is always the stupidity that spews forth from individuals like you that annoys the hell out of me......time to throw back a glass of wine....oooohhh wait did I just say that??
      Get over it

      November 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  12. government cheese

    Funny how the liberals turn from persecuting religion, to defending it, when protecting Obama.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • Ohio Lady

      Funny how conservatives claim to be spiritual, but acuse and condemn. I know lots of liberals, and I have never met any who persecute religion. Where do you get this crap?

      November 15, 2011 at 4:41 am |
    • government cheese

      Ohio lady- why don't you just read the comments, numb nut.

      November 15, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • Thatguy371

      Govt cheese, why don't you stop reading repub talking points and expecting us to get in line with them. You aren't doing anything but making yourself look daffy. 'Oh look, I learned these new things from Fox today. Lemmee go on what I consider a leftie blog and extrapolate' Pffffffft

      November 15, 2011 at 5:55 am |
  13. David in Cincinnati

    Why are Bob Jones' opinions interesting?

    November 15, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • susan m

      Probably because he influences, and represents, a lot of Americans. It is a way of keeping us informed of the criteria that a portion of the electorate consider important when choosing a President. Don't misunderstand - I find his viewpoint frightening. But I would rather know about it than be in the dark.

      November 15, 2011 at 5:00 am |
    • Mark

      Susan m.....learn about it. It was one individual's sole opinion. What he teach us, you that any uniformed person could not improperly (for the sake of discussion) assert? What history has taught us as a lesson learned is that to holistically trust the word of a "professed" man of GOD is to be weary.....learn that!

      November 15, 2011 at 5:25 am |
  14. End Adult Fairytales

    I hope he, like most sane Americans is an atheist. We are the only ones who can be trusted to make logical impartial decisions that would benefit the majority of Americans, free of the influence of dragons, unicorns, old mother Hubbard, and oh yes... god.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:35 am |
  15. Peggy

    Up until about 30 or 40 years ago, a political candidate for any office did not have to jump up on the pulpit to shout about how religious or Christian he or she was. Yes, Jimmy Carter talked about his faith, and he lived it, but until Reagan, none of us really cared. Well at least I didn't care. And I still don't care. I don't care if the President parades in and out of church every Sunday. Or is a "secret Muslim" or worshiped trees for that matter. I want someone who leads. Am I a "True Christian." Not as defined by the fundamentalists, for sure. Do I try to live a moral life? Yes. And that's all I care about with the President.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:35 am |
  16. Ohio Lady

    Bob Jones and his clan don't even think Billy Graham is OK. Who are they to judge Obama? Obama "confessed with his mouth that Jesus is his Lord." According to Jesus, that is good enough for him. Obama even did this in a court full of Muslims in Cairo, Egypt. Obama exhibits more Christ-like traits than any of these judgemental oafs. I'd like to see what secrets are hiding in the Jones' closets! And since it is about a political figure, what about Newt Gingrich's faith, then, or Herman Cain, or any of the other lineup?

    November 15, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • Linda

      well he wasn't asked about the other candidates so that's one thing....next since when can't someone anyone in this country freely speak about beliefs? Also....you realize he was asked these questions and gave honest answers....then we have our president.....read his book and you will find...
      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 FOUND A SOLACE IN NURSING A PERVASIVE SENSE OF GRIEVANCE AND ANIMOSITY AGAINST MY MOTHER’S RACE”

      * “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.”

      so...think...read.....freely speak we are in America

      November 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Linda, Did you receive that piece in an e-mail. It would behoove you to check things out before you spread stuff like that around...

      http://www.factcheck.org/2008/06/obamas-dreams-of-my-father/

      November 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  17. jpfromtheA

    Why must we keep going through this crap? Who is this nut to question someone elses religion? And who the freak cares what he thinks? Get a freaking life!

    November 15, 2011 at 4:23 am |
    • Linda

      why can't he question someones religion? it's called freedom of speech one of the great things about living in America....you get your say he gets his say.....

      November 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Mirosal

    Want to see just how much of an idiot ol' Mr. Jones is? Get someone running for office who publicly states that he or she is an Atheist. Watch little Bobby Jones scream at the top of his lungs how "evil" that person is simply because of a difference of ideology.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  19. Tim

    Some super elderly, moronic, uneducated redneck was at the store the other day where I was ranting on about Obama, saying "Obama said if he has to make a choice, he'll chose Muslim over Christian". I thought "Where the heck did that crap come from?" and the clerk talking to him explains to the old man that Obama is a Christian, he was born in the US and said he wasn't completely happy with Obama (because like all politicians, Obama lied about things to get elected). I gave the clerk a thumbs up and I plan to shop in his store as much as I can (I think it was the owner) because I live in a very Conservative area of California. If he's willing to speak the truth and his mind in a civil way, he probably can use all the support he can get. Personally, I vote for whomever seems like the best candidate, and the GOP has nothing going for them, and hasn't the last few elections. Maybe they'll have someone that's not a crazy conservative in 2016, because they'll quickly lose the 2012 election. Maybe in 2012 Obama will live up to more of his promises? He's not doing too bad, considering, but he could do a whole lot better!

    November 15, 2011 at 4:21 am |
    • Tim

      Pardon, that should say where "he was ranting about Obama", not "I was ranting about Obama". haha.

      November 15, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Linda

      Tim.....this could be where he got the idea...from Obama's own writings....just a thought

      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 FOUND A SOLACE IN NURSING A PERVASIVE SENSE OF GRIEVANCE AND ANIMOSITY AGAINST MY MOTHER’S RACE”

      * “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.”

      November 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Linda, Did you get that piece in an e-mail? I think that you should check things out before you spread them around.

      http://www.factcheck.org/2008/06/obamas-dreams-of-my-father/

      November 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  20. jared

    this is why i have turn to budda, enough with the christain extremist

    November 15, 2011 at 4:18 am |
    • Temperance1

      If I can be so bold, Amen brother!

      Buddhism is the only religion that doesn't require a belief in God. You can believe and still be a Buddhist. Or you can not believe, and be a Buddhist. I'm happy to qualify myself as a Buddhist. (Keeps the Jehova witnesses away when you tell them that ;))

      November 15, 2011 at 5:12 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.