September 7th, 2012
12:19 PM ET

Unpacking the 5 faithy moments from Obama’s convention speech

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Barack Obama’s Thursday convention speech contained insights into the president’s faith life and subtle messages to religious voters - if you knew what to listen for.

Here are the five faithy moments I caught. What did I miss?

1. Obama spoke to the evolution of his faith life during his first term, in lines that echoed his speech last year at the National Prayer Breakfast:

"While I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.' "

Obama’s message to religious voters: I pray more than ever and am acutely aware of my limits as a mere mortal.

2. Obama quoted the Bible’s Book of Jeremiah, saying that the ordinary, hard-working Americans he has met while in office “remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a ‘future filled with hope.' And if you share that faith with me," he continued, "If you share that hope with me, I ask you tonight for your vote.”

The message to religious voters: I share your religious faith and believe the future is hopeful partly because God says so.

3. Obama tipped his hat to American exceptionalism, the belief that God has given the United States a unique role in history:

"We keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth."

The message to religious voters: Don’t let the Republicans fool you into thinking I don’t believe America is blessed and exceptional.

4. Obama framed the election as a moral choice between sets of values, terminology that has mostly been associated with the Republican Party and its religious “family values” wing:

"Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known; the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army; the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone."

The message to religious voters: We Democrats have values, too, and they’re superior to the GOP variety.

5. Obama acknowledged the rights of religious believers but left out nonbelievers:

"From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings - men and women, Christians and Muslims and Jews."

Unlike in his 2009 inauguration speech, the president left out any reference to the nonreligious, sparking one apparent nonbeliever on Twitter to write: “Looking forward to the soon day when standard list spoken by politicians reads #Christian #Muslim #Jew #Atheist #inclusive."

The message to religious voters: Atheists? What atheists?

- CNN’s Eric Marrapodi and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Politics

soundoff (473 Responses)
  1. cyntinadiana

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    October 22, 2012 at 3:49 am |
  2. june fahnestock

    you leave a post cursing the Almighty & leave it as ANON? make no mistake, God knows exactly who you are,& one day you will find yourself begging his help!

    October 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  3. Wii For Sale

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    September 19, 2012 at 5:12 am |
  4. Iqbal Khan


    September 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Reality

      Some examples of saving money (and souls):

      How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?: And how many “souls” would be saved?

      Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
      There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

      – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

      – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

      – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

      Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
      There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

      – The Mormon ti-the empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

      – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

      – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
      Abraham and Moses never existed.

      – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

      – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

      Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!


      September 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  5. Iqbal Khan

    We Are at War
    Exploiting 9/11 for the Benefit of a Few.

    By Johnny Barber

    Who benefits from the War on Terror and who benefits when America threatens war?

    September 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Reality

      Other elements/benefits of our War on Terror and Aggression:

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles as of 09/15/2011/, 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed mostly due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.
      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

      – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      – Bin Laden was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

      – Ditto for Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011
      – Ditto for Abu Yahya al-Libi on June 5, 2012

      September 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  6. ..........


    September 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  7. tuvia




    September 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  8. tuvia




    September 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • toad

      Aww. Let the poor bastard go. Then shoot him in the back of neck as he heads out the gate. Show the world how we feel about traitors and theives.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • old ben

      Keep that traitor Pollard locked up. He's a highly unstable lout to boot – would be a danger to anyone.

      September 11, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  9. Mark Allen

    Ted H – Scientific Studies Prove the Power of Prayer
    There are 79 medical schools in the United States that have courses on prayer and healing. Why? The answer is the scientific studies. Two hundred scientific studies have been done on intercessory prayer. Some of them have been double blind studies.A double-blind study is one in which the people praying are praying for specific people, but neither the doctors nor the nurses nor the people being prayed for know that they're being prayed for. I suggest that you try more researching , and less posting. Maybe somewhere along the lines of empathy, forgiveness and grace.

    September 9, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • God makes retards

      Your entire post is so false its laughable. Prayer is scientifically, verifiable a placebo. No effect whatsoever. Your in denial if you think other wise.

      September 10, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  10. Satanluv

    I am sure Obama only plays lip-service to god belief...he is way 2 smart to believe in that mumbo jumbo c r a p...mitt on the other hand, believes angels left secret gold plates in desert...and he really believes that..scary

    September 9, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Santa Luv

      The good president believes what the teleprompter tells him too.

      20 years in a pew is more than lip service. What "smart" person pays lip service?

      September 11, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • max3333444555

      obama sounds just like bush

      September 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Satanluv

    god = rediculous, childish notion on par w/ believing in santa claus and superman...grow up

    September 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ted H

      Prayer accomplishes nothing and changes nothing.

      September 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but you assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 9, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • nope

      @ted h

      September 10, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • snopes says

      nope infinity to nope

      September 10, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • nope


      September 11, 2012 at 4:52 am |
  13. Rainer Braendlein

    As I have yet written I think that today politicans including Obama and Romney focus much too much on economy, as if a well-running economy would mean happiness. Of course, it is good when an economy of a country runs wells but it is not all what matters in life.

    A great problem in the Western World is that people become more and more lonely. Often loners are accused that they themselves would be responsible for their sad fate, and should change certain manners of behaviour. Too some extent it may be right that one oneself is responsible for his fate but it has also to do something with the whole society.

    I guess we in the Western World have forgotten that community is something which is not there for no reason. Community must get promoted by certain powers of society otherwise it will not be there or decrease. Commuity is a good which is at least as valuable as a well-running economy (in fact strong community is much more valuable than a good economy).

    Former times (as long as the mornarchs ruled) there certainly was more community because the rulers (at least the good ones of them) felt responsible for their people, they were like fathers or their contries and brought about a certain communal spirit. A virtuous king or prince has an great impact on his people. If the people of a country know that their government is virtuous and well-meaning, evil behaviour will be dampened (of course the only way to get completely rid of the evil is the faith in Christ).

    Today the situation is catastrophal. Everybody knows that he will draw the shortest straw when he or she behaves really virtuous, and this happens because our admininstrations become more and more corrupt. There is no more space or at least a very small space for faithful people. You have to be a smart, sharp, cunning dog, and then you will be successful, of course also on the cost of your coworker, fellow citizen or customer.

    The basis of love and righteousness which themselves are the basis of community is the faith in Jesus. All cults, sects and false churches lead people to bigotry (the love only members of their club), only the faith in Jesus leads to true, unbiased love.

    Let us pray that one day America or Europe gets again a righteous ruler which promotes the Christian faith (this would not mean religious intolerance but religious freedom because Christians love their neighbours independent from their distinct faith).

    By nature we are not able to love our neighbour, an evil germ in us always seeks for separation. This germ always calls attention to the distinctions of the neighbour like different religion, color, nationality, social status, etc.. We need the Spirit of Love, in order to become able to love our neighbour. This Spirit is the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God, one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Jesus once said that everybody who seriously asks God for the Spirit will receice Him.

    September 9, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Lk 11,13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?


      September 9, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Anon

      Fu*k your god Yahweh/Jesus/Jehovah.

      September 9, 2012 at 1:57 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.