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."


... (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.


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. Mary

    I'd like to know when Mitt Romney will address the racism of the Mormon church that has been part of their teachings since Joseph Smith invented the religion. You can't claim to practice Christianity and yet uphold racism as a practice and belief system as a core foundation of a religion.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  2. Reality

    Just photo-ops for votes:

    The real nitty-gritty of this election:

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And the irony:

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  3. jsbrodhead

    Obama can't come close to explaining the correlation between his actions and Christianity!
    Obama is a lying dog and has been going out of his way to flip God the finger.
    I don't care what he says – can't take it for truth, PERIOD!

    August 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Insider

      Just like Harry Reid my unnamed source tells me that Obama has a hidden prayer mat in the Oval Offce and prays to the east five times a day.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  4. Alaskan Independent

    Hawaiiguest. I apologize for not being clear. In your earlier post you mentioned your concern about bias. My comments were intended to share my experience that science and scientists have bias and the best we can do is attempt to understand it and limit its influence on our conclusions. Your reference to intelligent design or as I mentioned Paley's watchmaker analogy is an argument about logic or reasoning not about mechanisms explaining origins. In my opinion, evolutionary apologists like Gould or more recently Dawkins provide unsatisfactory arguments to explain the origins of what science has revealed to us about an incredibly complex and interrelated biological and physical universe. My advise is to consider all sides of the arguments about origins.

    August 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  5. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    August 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  6. Adrian

    I'm a little confused by all the nonbelievers commenting on here. If you don't think God is real, and faith is a waste of time....Why are you reading and commenting on a religion blog?

    August 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  7. Alaskan Independent

    Derpins Dots. I'll answer your question, if you will first answer mine. If Biblical Christianity teaches that there is only one God and He is eternal, all powerful and unchanging – basis of monotheism – and the New Testament teaches that we are to worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God – basis of the historic Christian explanation of scripture concerning the nature of God called the trinity and Mormonism teaches that God was once a man like us who by leading a righteous life and following ordinances progressed to godhood and fathered Jesus, all the angels including Lucifer and the rest of us – are they the same faith?

    August 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Mary

      Mormonism is cult and is not a branch of Christianity. Joseph Smith invented the religion back in the 1800s. Their belifs included polygamy and inherent racism that blacks and dark skin were not worhy of admission to the Mormon priesthood. Not quite a sign of equality and true Christianity.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  8. TUVIA





    Barack Obama vs the People of Israel





    August 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  9. Rita

    Hilarious that you bring up archaeological and scientific evidence, when christianity isn't supported by that either.
    The Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years, it started right around the time that Jesus died and they still practice the Eucharist that Jesus did, they still have Bishops who are appointed the same way the Apostles appointed Bishops. Lets be logical, nothing fake lasts for 2000 years and has over a billion people currently. Its either divine and/or an organizational genius.

    August 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Derpin Dots

      And Judaism has been around long before that. Those Jews must be divinely inspired huh

      August 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  10. Alaskan Independent

    When anyone including LDS make the statement that Biblical (traditional) Christians and Mormons both believe in Jesus Christ and simply have some doctrinal differences, they are demonstrating the sad reality that with modernity and secularism in the West has come ignorance of Christian history and teaching. This information is readily available but requires sufficient interest and effort to become informed. Christian scholars (Catholic, orthodox, and protestant) agree that Mormonism is a theological cult or view it as another religion. The bottom line is that Mormons believe that Joseph Smith and the prophets that followed him have been given revelation to restore Biblical Christianity. These claims are rejected by Christians because they contradict Scripture and are not supported by archeological or scientific evidence. Fortunately, there are former and honest active LDS members who are committed to providing objective information to their members and others about Mormon history and teaching. http://mormonthink.com/lying.htm

    August 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Religion is Absurd

      That is the most biased piece of evidence I have ever seen, I don't even need to visit the website to know its propaganda for your "faith" just based on the URL

      August 21, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Hilarious that you bring up archaeological and scientific evidence, when christianity isn't supported by that either.

      August 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Alaskan Independent

      Hawaii guest. You sound a bit like me before I actually looked at the evidence. I have advanced degrees in science and worked professionally as a biologist for over 40 years. Believe me I have had more than a few discussions with my non-believing colleagues regarding these matters over the years but always with respect and objectivity. I attended the baptism of one of them just last week. I can't convince you of anything where you have closed your mind and heart, but would challenge you to read both the pro and con concerning these important life issues.

      To the comments of "Religion is absurd" Your user name is clever but hopefully your mind is not closed as tightly as your comments appear to represent.

      August 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Sorry if you think I have "closed my mind and heart", but to determine the veracity of anything else, science is independent of whether someone "wants" to believe it. The arguments stand and fall on their own merits, and I'd rather avoid confirmatory bias.

      August 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Derpin Dots

      Alaskan Independent,
      So Mormons aren't "true" Christians? Is that what youre saying?

      August 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Alaskan Independent

      Hawaiiguest. I was just encouraging you to keep an open mind on the subject of science and God. My experience has been that as very fallible human beings, scientists all have biases and often strong opinions. For this reason doing science requires careful attention to asking testable questions as well as methods and analysis that limit or at least evaluate the influence of bias. Scientists attempt to provide accountability through the peer review process and requiring that results are reproducible. The amount of science actually funded to specifically address or confirm theories about biological or physical origins is very small. Most research focuses on practical needs or questions concerning our health, infrastructure and environment. What has science confirmed – life and the physical universe is incredibly complex and interrelated. Paley's logic

      August 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to get at with your post, except that it might be refering to the standard ID argument of complexity = god.

      August 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  11. TheVeteran

    LinSea: One other thing: If you truly read the King James version, then you should know that there are some stark contradictions between the Book of Mormon, and the books of the bible. The bible is not a book. It is a collection of books, and any new teachings should align with the truth. Mormonism is the testimony of ONE Man, with NO WITNESSES. And even if there were witnesses, how do you know that Joseph Smith wasn't talking to Satan? No angel would tell a man that he can become a god.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • AllinGodstime

      I have been wondering why this belief by Mormons in the plurality of gods, God being an exalted man and man's (excluding Jesus) ability to become a god if you are Mormon are not questioned vehemently by evangelical Christians when Romney is out campaigning.

      August 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • *

      I'll bet that you are the 666 spammer too, aren't you?!

      August 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      I've been praying for months that you would stop posting this same pablum over and over and yet here you are.

      August 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does 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!

      August 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • jsbrodhead

      "Jesus" You wrote of a few children who died.
      Why don't you write of the 56 million who have died at the hands of ghouls in America? Godless animals who purposely MURDER helpless pre-born children "for their own good", without due process, without a jury of Peers, without the opportunity to face their accusers.

      THAT is what your Godless world becomes. Maybe you should do some research, instead of speaking evil of those who have faith and accept what God wills.

      Bet you won't look here: http://www.blackgenocide.org

      August 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • bob

      jsthickhead, you need to re-examine your definition of a human being. But speaking of evil, the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible sure has its share of wicked demands and murder by the evil Christian religion. Fine stuff like this:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      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.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      August 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • truth be told

      It is called justice, get used to it, the ancient penalties for sin follow the passage that says the wages of sin is death and should serve as a warning to all sinners through all generations.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  13. BN1985

    They are both empty souled wanderers. Neither is filled with the spirit. Neither is guided by the truth of the light and spirit. Both are following their own inner agenda and propelled by ugly egotistical desires. They are freaks and extremists without a clue that the Nation they are presiding over has so many people who don't want a dogmatic agenda filled with contempt and resitance toward the "other party". I laugh and both of these men who live in darkness and try to pretend they have the light of the creator in them. I judge them not for I could care less if they go through life as fools without insight and true realization. They align themselves to bitter and vile ways led by man and not by the light. Neither of them is my "leader" so as they continue to struggle for a true sense of peace, many, many people will continue to ignore both of their foolishness.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " I judge them not..." Yet your entire post is filled with it.

      August 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Athy

      "could" care less, or "couldn't" care less? You seem to be a parrot that simply spouts back mindless crap you hear rather than anything of real substance. Try harder.

      August 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  14. Cheyenne

    If romney gets it then all poor people and disabled people will be homeless. Romney doesnt care for the poor. He has shut down some of his warehouses leaving people out of work. Obama said hed get bin laden and he has. He brought ovr troops home from iraq. I feel on the middle east issues that all troops should be brought home. Let the people in the middle east kill each other and close our boarders to any middle east travel. Thats my opinon.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Sloppy J

      Just pullin' stuff out of various orifices, aren't you, Cheyenne? **SIGH** . . sometimes I wish I were simple like the Cheyennes of the world.

      Business for Dummies: If you don't have the revenue stream to pay your employees and/or the work certain employees are doing isn't essential to the continued prosperity of a company, you have to let people go. You, like so many mush-brained folk, equate "Mitt made decisions that eliminated jobs" with "Mitt has no concern for working class people." Are you of the opinion that layoffs are always a product of greed, or is it possble that responsible management sometimes requires tough decisions?

      August 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  15. TheVeteran

    *They should not be, as in different.

    August 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  16. Jeremy from London

    Amazing reading this from here in London: religion seems to be an obsession over there. Surely the only way we'll have peace in this interconnected, plural world is to have compassion for each other as fellow human beings, whether we're Christians, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, humanists/atheists or anything else. There's not much evidence of loving your neighbour in American politics right now. And the religious dimension – which might be expected to be a source of compassion – seems to be making the tribalism and irrationality of debate even worse.

    August 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Yep

      I completely agree. America was supposed to be a land of tolerance. Not too much of that these days.

      August 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  17. Shawn

    Good job Rev. Wade. Great example for all of us!

    August 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  18. tet1953

    I don't want to live in a Christian theocracy any more than I want to live in an Islamic one.

    August 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Rita

      Poland is 98% Catholic and Ireland is about 90% Catholic and Iraq and Iran are 98%-100% Muslim would you rather live in Poland/Ireland or in Iraq or Iran?

      August 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • umm

      I would rather live in sweden for obvious reasons.. have you tried living in poland? gee..

      August 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  19. evan

    seperation of church and powers

    August 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  20. Peter

    Wait I'm confused I thought President Obama went to Trinity United Church of Christ which is Congreationalist but he is attending an Episcoalian Church which is Anglican and he now has a Baptist Spritual director who is Evangelical. They are very different!

    August 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Not if you're only using them to create an image

      August 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      The should not be. They teach from the same collection of books.

      The only one that is different if Mormonism. It teaches from a different book, and it is not Christian, but just uses some Christian precepts....

      August 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      *They should not be, as in different doctrines.

      August 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • LinSea

      TheVeteran, please read the article again. Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind and that He is the only way to salvation. As a Mormon, I have been taught from my childhood to live Christ's teachings and follow His example of love and service. Mormons use the King James Version of the Holy Bible. It is every bit as important to us as the Book of Mormon. The sole purpose of both books is to testify of Christ.

      August 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mormons are not Christians the founding of the cult was in protest to Christianity.

      August 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • TheVeteran

      LinSea: Please read what I wrote. It is the other stuff that is blasphemy. You can never be a god. Not even a lesser god. That is not taught in ANY Christian biblical teachings. That is walking in the ways of Satan himself. And if Mormons truly believed that salvation comes from Faith in Christ ALONE, WHY DO THEY BELIEVE THEY CAN WORK THEIR WAY TO GOD STATUS, and be what, EQUAL TO CHRIST?

      The book of Mormon is its own religion. The only angel that tried to be a god is a fallen angel. SATAN.

      And Jesus and Satan are not brothers. That is blasphemy! And it is another reason Mormonism is a cult. Jesus is God. If you are a Christian, you have to believe that. He is not a man who worked his way to god status, like Mormons believe they can do.

      I clearly understand the differences, and I stand by my words. Mormonism is not Christian. It is its own religion.

      August 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • LinSea

      TheVeteran, We absolutely do not believe we can gain salvation through works. We do believe that we are saved only through Christ's love and sacrifice, and yes, we DO believe in and worship Jesus Christ, as it says in John 1 that he was with God and that he was God. We believe in doing good because Jesus asked it of His followers, not because we think we can ever overcome our sins and faults through our own efforts.

      August 21, 2012 at 7:10 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.