June 28th, 2012
04:36 PM ET

First lady implores black churchgoers to get political

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama made an impassioned pitch for black churchgoers to embrace political action on Thursday in a speech to the country’s oldest black religious denomination.

“To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better,” Obama said at a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Because ultimately, these are not just political issues,” she said. “They are moral issues.”

With Election Day a little more than four months away, the first lady decried what she suggested was voter apathy in the black community.

“How many of us have asked someone whether they’re going to vote, and (they) tell us, ‘No, I voted last time,’ or ‘Is there really an election going on?’ ”

“After so many folks sacrificed so much so that we could make our voices heard, so many of us just can’t be bothered,” she said.

Obama said that while some voters were “tuning out” and “staying home,” powerful interests are busy raising money to influence Washington.

Barack Obama took 96% of the black vote in 2008, and strong turnout among African-Americans and other minorities will be crucial if he hopes to win a second term, analysts say.

Surveys show that African-Americans attend church in higher numbers than white Americans do, and Democratic politicians have long made a habit of speaking from black pulpits in the leadup to Election Day. The AME Church has a general convention every four years.

The first lady also spoke of her husband on Thursday, telling the story of a photo hanging in the Oval Office that shows the president meeting a 5-year-old African-American boy at the White House three years ago.

White House photographers change the photos hanging in the West Wing ever couple of weeks, Michelle Obama said, except for that one.

“If you ever wonder whether change is possible in this country, I want you to think about that little black boy in the Oval Office of the White House touching the head of the first black president.”

She said blacks had to actively make good on their centuries-old legacy of political activism, mentioning names like Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks.

“Today, the connection between our laws and our lives isn’t always as clear as it was 50 years or 150 years ago,” she said. “And as a result, it’s sometimes easy to assume that the battles in our courts and legislatures have all been won.”

In her speech, Obama promoted causes like investing in roads and schools, creating jobs and taking care of veterans.

“Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal,” she said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (671 Responses)
  1. lynn

    time to kick these whiny gop punks to the curb .

    June 29, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  2. Jack

    Hello, everyone is invited to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 29, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • God-less America

      Don't bother...its BS

      June 29, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      spam spam spam. I think Monty Python based that skit on Jack here.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  3. hippypoet

    address everyone or preach bias....it is that simple.

    June 29, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  4. Really....

    You know if the white comunity had a white church and had a white person saying to the white church that we need to talk about the issues in church then there would be all kinds of people yelling racist and calling the people of the church biggots and there would be law suits. I believe that this country has started to become racist for every single people group that use to be a minority but now are a majority

    June 29, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Primewonk

      Perhaps you need to go back and re-read and re-watch all the republican candidates (Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, etc), who campaigned in churches in every state with a primary?

      June 29, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  5. dyslexic dog

    this is wrong!!! The republicans hijacked religion and the flag decades ago. It's theirs I tell you ... you democrats can't have it! Oh the nerve!!! I'm going to watch FOX News to make me feel better.

    June 29, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • NorthernVirginian

      Brilliant And accurate satire.

      June 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  6. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    Great, just what we need, to infuse even MORE religion into politics. Here I thought the Obama's were for snuffing this kind of stuff out.

    June 29, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      If Obama doesn't get re-elected we'll have the Christian Taliban, led by a Mormon cultist, (oh the irony) running the country. The Bible and the Book of Mormon will be our children's only allowed text books.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Woah, paranoid much? Can you name me any policies Romney had in place in MA that were based solely off of his Mormon faith? I'm as much anti-Romney as the next guy, but he has never done anything to indicate his religious beliefs would intermingle with his political policies. You can usually tell a lot about a guy based off of his previous examples.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      didn't you see what the school board did in Texas? Completely vetted all school books to suit their christian beliefs.

      not paranoid (I stand chastized and corrected) and I don't reeeaaaallllyyy think that "The Bible and the Book of Mormon will be our children's only allowed text books." but I fear that the texas schoolboard incident will happen more and more often

      June 29, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Yeah I can see that but I don't think it will become the norm. I'm all for people practicing their religion but it is pretty much just forcing it on people. Look at the gay marriage ban. I have no stake in either side but I can see it is a ban based solely on the Bible and that is a violation of the Consti-tution.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  7. Andy

    I thought we had separate of church and state in this country, Obama? Hypocrite.

    June 29, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Primewonk

      A few months ago the web and TV were full of stories on Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, et al, speaking in fundiot churches in every state they campaigned in.

      I don't seem to remember you condeming them. Why the double standard?

      June 29, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      @Andy you troll

      June 29, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Andy

      Because, Primewonk, Santorum has the strength of his religious convictions. The Obamas, on the other hand, only use it for politicial gain. His flip flop on gay "marriage" is a perfect example of this.

      The story indicates that they must have the support of black churches, so this is just political pandering. I guess it depends how many black churches are pro abortion and pro gay marriage; they will probably vote for Barry again.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Huebert


      Why was Obama changing his mind on gay marriage a flip-flop? Can leaders never change their mind?

      June 29, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      A flip flop is only a bad thing if you don't admit your previous mistake. If you try to pretend like you never changed your mind and this is what you always believed, then you are an idiot.

      Obama has one thing right, you have to leave religious convinctions at the door when you are president.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Andy

      Huebert, I feel he only did it to pander to the far left base. Yes, leaders can change their minds but for him it looked very shady and played.

      Meanwhile, the economy is still in the toilet. Let's see how he addresses the unemployment rate in the months leading up the election.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Huebert

      Gay marriage isn't a far left issue. Center left maybe, more likely just plain center. You are just so far to the right you would call Reuters communist.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Andy – So it's OK when fundiot tea baggers campaign in churches. But not OK when Christians like the Obama's do it?

      Right. Got it.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      Andy, the economy is in the toilet after 8 years of Republican policy left it in freefall. Do you really think that that big a disaster can be fixed and everything would be rosy again in 3 years? Go and study some economics.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Andy

      Dyslexic dog:

      You first called me a "troll" then you come up with something this weak? Blaming Bush when Barry has been in office for years now?

      Sounds like a surrender post. 🙂

      June 29, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      once again I say, 3 years is not enough time to undo the 8 years in the making disaster that Obama inherited ... and especially not when the Republicans have done nothing but obstruct every step of the way. (sorry about the "troll" post too btw 🙂 )

      June 29, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Que

      @Primewonk – Obamas Christians? LOL!!!!!!!

      June 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  8. lastofall

    Although we as Christians may plainly see the injustice and apathy of this secular world, it is unbecoming of us to involve ourselves in worldly matters, because we are no longer of this world. They who are the world speak of the world, and it is the world that hears them; but we who are of God hear God's Words exclusively, without the testimony of this world.

    June 29, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • God-less America

      Either increase or decrease your dosage...The dosage you are currently on is clearly not working.

      June 29, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Mirosal

      So... you're all a bunch of .... aliens? Not of this world? Do your fingers glow when you "phone home"? .. I mean.. when you talk to your "god"?

      June 29, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I see the loaded language of Jehovah's Witnesses in this post. Don't you have some a child abuse scandals to be worried about right now?

      June 29, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  9. God-less America

    “Because ultimately, these are not just political issues,” she said. “They are moral issues.”

    Is it moral to allow someone else to take your just punishment for crimes you committed. No ...it is christian
    Is it moral to molest little boys and then cover it up? No but it has been going on for years by the Catholics and the jews.
    Is it moral to murder people because they believe something differently than you do. No .It is Catholic, Muslim and countless other religions.

    Do not try to tell me the church is the place to discuss "morality"

    June 29, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Convoluted

      Holy Moly! You hit that nail on the head. But with that said how is it that you can completely take out your whole life's belief and totally separate that from your politics? Without a shadow of influence?

      June 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  10. Out Of Touch with reality

    Revolution is near, Its a TAX and obama and Dems LIE, we wont raise taxes on the middle class, well a family making $30,000 a year just got a $2200 tax increase thanks to king obama.

    June 29, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Primewonk

      Only if they CHOOSE to not get insurance. And if the policy is too expensive, there are provision in place to assist with the purchase.

      I wonder why you left this part out? Isn't the truth included in the talking points you get from your tea bagger puppetmasters at FAUX News?

      June 29, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      you people that watch FOX News and listen to Michelle bachmann really have no idea of what's going on do you. If you have healthcare, this is going to make no difference.

      It's exactly like car insurance. We all have to have car insurance or we are fined. OH NO!!! Cue the republican uproar ... huh? ... what, you mean we have been doing that for decades and no-one has complained?

      June 29, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Do you know Obamacare was invented by Romney? Who are you gonna vote for then? Guess you better just stay home in November.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Les

      This is one of the most bold faced lies I have seen on the blogs. It is not true. The only government that went to war as an athiest one was the Soviet Union.

      True. Talking to "God" has split up families, caused unrestrained suffering, hate crimes, a higher suicide rate, murders and an increase of psychological illnesses.

      June 29, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Les

      Apologies Out. I sent my lat message to the wrong person. Forgive me.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 29, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • God-less America


      June 29, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      troll, troll, troll, troll...

      June 29, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • truth be told


      June 29, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • truth be told

      Truth, Truth, Truth, Truth ...

      June 29, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • God-less America

      truth be told
      Truth can be proven.

      You mean belief, belief, belief

      June 29, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • truth be told

      Two wonderful Truths both proven throughout history, first atheism is useless and has been responsible for more death and destruction in the last 100 years alone than was evidenced in all previous centuries. Second talking with God has proven more life altering change than everything else combined.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.`

      June 29, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • God-less America

      truth be told
      Bold statement but again...belief....
      Show me anything to back up your claim. I can site thousands of examples where religions have caused more death and destruction than anything. The Catholic church alone is responsible for the vast majority of it, and I can back it up.

      You cannot separate belief from truth. I pity you

      June 29, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Les

      Atheism etc.:

      This is a lie. The only government that went to war as an athiest one was the Soviet Union.

      True. Talking to "God" has split up families, caused unrestrained suffering, hate crimes, a higher suicide rate, murders and an increase of psychological illnesses.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  12. Linda P

    Don't ever bother waking up if you're a dumb piece of s*#t!

    June 28, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • The Corrector

      POWERFUL Linda P!

      June 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  13. The Corrector

    Hitting the right nerve is essential!

    June 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  14. UK Dave

    Lovely morning(04:38 BST) already!
    My enemies may wish to contest this!
    If you've got such grim reapings, then;

    June 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • UK Dave

      @UK Dave
      You so just know how to hit the right nerve!

      June 28, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  15. Robyn Houp

    Seriously??? Get political from the pulpit?? Amazing how Michelle supports this idea IF they are going to talk about supporting her husband from the pulpit, but if she thought they were going to preach against Obamanomics, she'd be the first to scream "SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE" Serioulsly??? We can't have prayer at any school function, but we can use the church pulpit to further a political agenda?? What's wrong with this picture????

    June 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • dyslexic dog

      yes it's wrong!!! The republicans hijacked religion and the flag decades ago. It's theirs I tell you ... you democrats can't have it!

      June 29, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  16. hippypoet

    a true leader is one who does not speak to separate groups of people as it furthers the belief they are separate! if a true leader, then one should speak to all as one to convey a moral standard and principles to all and push forth the standard of equality!

    June 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • chubby rain

      People are not the same. They come from many different backgrounds and have different wants and needs. A true leader reconciles the differences between groups of people and convinces them of a common goal or purpose - for instance, the good of America.

      June 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • hippypoet

      we are all people from the same country... the countries issues are all of our issues and should be addressed as such not make a separation seem like nothing because in doing you highlight the separation...speak to us as one and maybe in time we will act as such in turn.

      June 28, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  17. UK Dave

    I tickle criminals!
    I tickle the Mafia!
    I tickle governments!
    I tickle Bilderberg!
    I tickle Illuminati!
    I even tickle the Church!
    See how my prayers are answered!

    June 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • atheist@heart

      Gosh! I just love tickle monsters!

      June 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • The Corrector

      Tickle monster me any day!
      A tickle is well worth the risk!

      June 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Linda P


      June 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • dyslexic dog

      are they made of spaghetti ... ?

      June 29, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  18. UK Dave

    I've a habit of making friends!
    What's your habit?

    June 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Mafia Don

      Losing friends!

      June 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • The Corrector

      I've a habit of making friends too!

      June 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • kerfluffle


      June 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  19. WOT

    Most of the Black churches are all but empty on Sunday and any other day. All Americans should get out and vote,:however God's will be done for the best .

    June 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  20. CCLove

    Where did this picture come from? I was there and this picture was taken somewhere else. Does that backdrop look like a black church event? What's up CNN?

    June 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      It is cheaper for CNN to use a stock photo than to pay someone for their photo of the event.

      June 29, 2012 at 9:19 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
About this blog

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