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August 20th, 2012
05:48 PM ET

Obama, Romney open up about their faith in a church magazine

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have opened up about their religious faith to an unlikely source: Cathedral Age, the quarterly magazine of the Washington National Cathedral.

The interviews mark a rare instance of Romney talking about Mormonism, while Obama discusses his Christian faith in detail, referencing favorite Christian writers and Bible verses.

The magazine, which has a circulation of 30,000, submitted identical questions in writing to both campaigns and prints the responses in full in the latest edition of its magazine, which is out on Tuesday.

The magazine's leadoff question to the candidates: "How does faith play a role in your life?"

Romney's response:

Faith is integral to my life. I have served as a lay pastor in my church. I faithfully follow its precepts. I was taught in my home to honor God and love my neighbor. My father was committed to Martin Luther King Jr.’s cause of equality, and I saw my parents provide compassionate care to others, in personal ways to people nearby and in leading national volunteer movements. My faith is grounded in the conviction that a consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one another - to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of God.

Obama's response:

First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control - and my main responsibility is to love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. Now, I don’t always live up to that standard, but it is a standard I am always pursuing.

My faith is also a great source of comfort to me. I’ve said before that my faith has grown as president. This office tends to make a person pray more; and as President Lincoln once said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”

Finally, I try to make sure that my faith informs how I live my life. As a husband, as a father, and as president, my faith helps me to keep my eyes on the prize and focus on what is good and truly important.

The magazine asked each candidate whether he has a favorite passage of Scripture, prayer or other "words of wisdom."

Romney quoted the Gospel of Matthew: "For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me. ...”

Romney invoked the King James Version of the text, the official English translation of the Bible for Mormons.

Obama said his favorite Bible verses were Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 46, which begins, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (New Revised Standard Version).

The president noted he read the verse at the 10th anniversary service for the 9/11 attacks.

Both Obama and Romney have faced questions and criticisms over their faith.  The magazine asked how they respond to those who "question the sincerity of your faith and your Christianity."

Obama:

... (T)here’s not much I can do about it. I have a job to do as president, and that does not involve convincing folks that my faith in Jesus is legitimate and real. I do my best to live out my faith, and to stay in the Word, and to make my life look more like His. I’m not perfect. What I can do is just keep on following Him, and serve others - trying to make folks’ lives a little better using this humbling position that I hold.

Romney:

I am often asked about my faith and my beliefs about Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

Romney never mentions his Mormon faith by name in his responses but does note that he was once a lay pastor.

While he was head of Bain Capital, Romney was the bishop of his ward, a similar role as a lay pastor in other faiths.  He was later appointed to stake president for Boston, an important regional position with in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Rev. Francis H. Wade, interim dean of the Washington National Cathedral, said the candidates likely participated in the Q&A because of the place the cathedral holds in American public life.

"They took their time, and they took this very seriously," he said.

“I think it has to do with the role of the cathedral as a house of prayer for all people and a spiritual home for the nation,” Wade said.

On Sunday, both Obama and Romney attended services with their families. Obama went to St. John's Episcopal Church, across from the White House, and Romney attended a sacrament meeting at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' ward in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

Romney has been less vocal about his faith on the campaign trail.  A longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has often mentioned on the trail the similarities between Mormons and other Christians instead of their theological differences.

The Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal church but for a century has served as an ecumenical worship space for the nation.

Wade said that because of the establishment clause in the Constitution, commonly cited as the basis for the idea of separation of church and state, the United States has no official state church.

The massive worship space is constructed of stone and sustained $20 million in damages when an earthquake struck the Washington area a year ago.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Church and state • Episcopal • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. ObamJoe

    have fun and have a good nite !!!!!!!!!!!

    August 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  2. ObamJoe

    love my neighbor,,,,,,,,,,,,,but no share of 14% trickes,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    August 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  3. Jane

    Ugh. Do we really need to have a religious government? "Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

    August 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  4. ObamJoe

    Coal??????????

    Can we beat China with COAL ????????????

    woody head !!!!!!!!!

    August 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  5. Charles

    Obama went to a church that curses at our country for 20 years. nice.

    August 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Were you asleep for the months leading up to the 08 election? This crap has been over and done with for years.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  6. gmenfan54

    Barack Obama is a Christian. Rumors that he is or was a Muslim are false, and have been debunked by many fact-checking websites. Mr. Obama was born to a mother was not religious at all (although he writes that she was very spiritual) and to a father who was originally a Muslim but had not practiced that faith in decades. Mr. Obama was mainly raised by his grandparents, who were both mainstream Protestant Christians. He went through a period of being uninterested in religion, but when he started dating Michelle and they discussed marriage and children, he decided it would be important to have a religion, and he decided upon Protestant Christianity. That is the faith in which the Obamas are raising their children.

    August 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Rationalist

      Do you believe in sin?"

      OBAMA: "Yes."

      In an interview with BO,:
      Interviewer: "What is sin?"

      OBAMA: "Being out of alignment with my values."

      No, that's not the viewpoint an authentic Christian would have – Neither are his views that gay marriage and abortion are OK.
      He says all the "right things", but like the Bible says, there's no fruit to prove the – hence he is deceived, and so are you.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Rationalist

      BTW, his mother was an atheist and his fathers were muslim.
      Your facts are completely wrong.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • T

      But does he actually believe the Bible is true?

      August 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  7. gregmo

    Both need to respond to creating more jobs, Senate and House included. They both want the christian vote, what did you exspect them to say.

    August 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  8. E B

    I think that oftentimes secularists confuse being "rational" and the scientific method as the only sources of truth. They're not. They're the ways to find natural truth, or physical truth. To find spiritual truth, you use something else, as explained in the scriptures. That's where the leap of faith comes in, and you won't find spirtual answers or a witness without it. I don't care if secularists don't want to take the leap for themselves, that doesn't bother me. What does bother me is their arrogance in assuming they are the only ones who know how to find truth, when in my opinion they are limiting the kinds of truth they can find. Thanks for listening. By the way, I am a Mormon like Mitt Romney and our fundamental belief and practice is to follow Jesus Christ. All else is peripheral. Thanks for listening.
    http://www.conservativemormonmom.blogspot.com

    August 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  9. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? After all, BO also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

    One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    August 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  10. Fox

    I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't bomb women and children (or men for that matter) with drone missiles, President Obama.
    I'm also pretty sure He wouldn't brag about killing people for His re-election campaign.

    August 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • ProudLIberal

      Are you inferring that a president should be a pacifist? Or are you inferring that every president who has ever been a wartime president (and championed their successes in doing so) was not a real christian? Please explain.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      not so sure about that. in Revelation, jesus opens up the seven seals, killing about 1/2 the population of earth, children included.

      August 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " I'm also pretty sure He wouldn't brag about killing people"

      But it's still OK when the Christian god brags about killing millions and millions of people, right?

      August 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  11. Secret Service

    You are now being investigated by the U.S. Government. Your compliance is not needed, but will be accepted.

    August 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Howard

    Once again ... obama treats the America people like fools, as he expects us to simply forget that for TWENTY YEARS ... yes that's TWENTY YEARS, he attended Reverend Wright's anti-American, racist church. The church which damned America ... the church which gave a life time achievement award to racist Louis Farakhan ... the church which required an oath of allegiance to their 'Black Values" policy, which required devotees to provide favoritism towards Black people. Obama is a liar, who will say, or do anything to hold onto power !!!

    August 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      Have the nurse wheel you back to the day room Howard and double your meds.

      August 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Matt

      So what about the favortisim of the morman church to morman's? Or complete disregard (harrasmnet, bulllying and intimitation) of non mormans living in close proximity to major morman communities?

      August 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  13. Which God?

    HeavenSpooge, revelations isn't even relevant to the babbling book of bullshyte, your buybull. You post nonsense, and you haven't posted proof of your doG, and his sidekick, jeebus christ almighty.

    August 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  14. Pander Bear

    According to this headline, both the President and Mitt Romney worship the same church magazine. I long for the days when actual journalists were employed by news agencies.

    August 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • BinaryTooth

      Economy?

      August 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Tellher

      Good catch, Pander. Very funny.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Which God?

      Well said, Pander Bear. Shallow reporting. Sound bytes only, no meat.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  15. Turnaway

    If there is a hell below and if not for the mercy and grace of God, we all will go with the republican party leading the way. Period.

    August 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Tellher

      If god is merciful, then not even the republicans should have to worry about a hell. They could just do whatever they like and then ask to be forgiven and, well, no worries. So god must be quite the berk.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Which God?

      @turnaway. Where is 'below'? Where is above? There is nothing 'under' the earth but space, and 'above' the same. All the same. Within the earth there is nothing but molten rock. Is this your fiery pit? Moron.

      August 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  16. TUVIA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU

    IT IS NICE TO USE MY NAME AND THEN SPREAD HATE MESSAGES.
    I FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE WORLD UNDERSTANDS THE
    IMPORTANCE OF HASHEM

    August 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  17. TUVIA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU

    August 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  18. wayne

    what a one sided article. obama gets a pass and romney get grilled. For me I'm not interested in what obama says about his "christian" beliefs. I am more interested in why he has alined himself so closely with muslims since he has a muslim background and has been taught in a madrassa. is this the reason that he has a problem relationship with isreal? if his faith has increased why has america become " a less christian nation ... a muslim nation"

    August 21, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Jane's Doe

      wayne, we have cameras watching you.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      You need to take all the pills in the prescription Wayne. Otherwise the voices in your head will return and compel you to post idiotic crap on blogs.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • James

      I would rather have a president that doesn't rely on religion to develop a policy." Let's see we are going to war so let me consult with my church minister to see what the best strategy is...", or " Unemployment is high and rising, Oh well it must be G-ds will, remember the poor shall inheret the earth." These politicians (left or right ) aren't Christians, they are Jesus fans waiving a religious flag to look good. We as Americans talk all the BS about freedom, and liberty but when a religious nut job comes along wanting to start a Theocracy, we welcome it with open arms.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • rjw

      What in the heck are you even talking about. This continued lunacy about Obama being Muslim or cozying up to Muslims is nonsense. Why don't you and your fellow tin-foil hat wearing nutjobs go back to your compounds and leave everyone else alone.

      August 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  19. TUVIA

    IB"H

    IT IS TIME FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO MAKE THEIR DECISION ON THIS SPEECH
    WAKE UP AMERICAN PEOPLE, TIME TO STOP SLEEPING

    CLICK ON LINK FOR VIDEO BELOWl

    Barack Obama vs the People of Israel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU

    --------------------------------------------------

    ----------------------------

    August 21, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • v_mag

      Israel has had atomic weapons for years, but the American government only seems interested in WMD held by or being created by Muslim countries. Why does the U.S. not require Israel to get rid of its nukes? Israel is the single biggest threat to world peace, and yet the U.S. sends it billions in aid every year. It is time for an even-handed approach to the Middle East. No more special deals for Israel!

      August 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Tellher

      At least Israel isn't officially pushing people to fly planes into buildings.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • James

      Tuvia – I am an American and I live in America not Israel. So Israel is not a major point for me picking a candidate. I would rather have a candidate that is concerned with US of A.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • v_mag

      Tellhur – Israel is constantly threatening to blow Iran off the map, which amounts to a lot more damage than sending planes into buildings. I'm not belittling that heinous act, but at the root of it, from the Muslim point of view, was the U.S. unconditional backing of Israel against the Palestinians and the presence of American troops in Muslim countries. That may not be enough reason to attack the U.S., but then phantom WMD was not a good reason for the U.S. to murder over 100000 Iraqis.

      August 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Bob

    Sad that we have a president and a presidential candidate who still have to at least pretend to believe in a sky fairy to be electable.

    August 21, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Bob's friend

      That phantom pain from your amputation from God. How is that today Bob? And where's your goat?

      August 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Jane's Doe

      Stop your lusting for Bob's goat, or we'll think you're weird.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Revelation 13:4-9

      Amen.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      HS, your god would be quite a jerk if it existed. Great that it doesn't. But why the heck would he want to search kidneys?

      August 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • dantia

      People who have no faith is what created this wicked world. You don't love GOD, but you'll put your life and faith in a man who has none of your issues. Maybe you should read about one of these men's faith and your life will turn around.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
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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.