The Gospel according to Obama
President Obama is not just a racial trailblazer, but some say a religious pioneer as well. No president has ever shared his type of Christianity, historians say. Some say he may revive a form of Christianity that once dominated America.
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET

The Gospel according to Obama

By John Blake, CNN

President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.

When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”

The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:

“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”

Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.

When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life so much that it gave the nation its first megachurches, historians say.

“Barack Obama has referred to his faith more times than most presidents ever have, but for many it’s the wrong kind of faith,” says Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, an evangelical activist group based in Washington that focuses on poverty and social justice issues.

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“It is not the faith of the religious right. It’s about things that they don’t talk about. It’s about how the Bible is full of God’s clear instruction to care for the poor.”

Some see a 'different' kind of Christian

Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.

No other president has shared the hybrid faith that Obama displays, says Diana Butler Bass, a historian and author of “Christianity after Religion.”

“The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S.,” says Bass, a progressive Christian. “He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”

Some Christians, however, still see Obama as the “other.” He doesn’t act or talk like other Christians, says the Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

“I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity,” says Cass, pastor of Christ Church in San Diego.

Cass says he’s never heard Obama say he’s “born-again.” There’s no emotional conversion story to hang onto.

Obama talks about his faith and attends church, but Cass says that doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.

“Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. “You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.”

The origins of Obama’s faith

The suspicion about Obama’s faith may seem odd at first because he’s written and spoken so much about his spiritual evolution in his two autobiographies, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Other books, like “The Faith of Obama” by Stephen Mansfield, also explore Obama’s beliefs.

The 1925 “Monkey” trial of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher who taught evolution, drove fundamentalists underground, some say.

Mansfield says Obama is the first president who wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Obama’s mother was an atheist and his grandparents were religious skeptics (Obama’s family has challenged the description of his mother as an atheist. Obama called her “the most spiritually awakened” person he’d ever known, and his sister called their mother an agnostic).

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Mansfield called Obama’s boyhood a “religious swirl.  He was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, and strains of Hinduism and Buddhism while growing up in Indonesia during the 1960s.

“In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology,” Obama said in Mansfield’s book. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”

Obama became a Christian while he was a community organizer in Chicago. He joined a predominantly black United Church of Christ. The UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to officially support same-sex marriage in 2005.

Obama’s faith showed many of the elements of a liberal Protestant church: an emphasis on the separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the refusal to embrace a literal reading of the Bible.

In a 2006 speech before a Sojourners meeting, Obama talked about his approach to the Bible:

“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”

When many people think of Obama’s religious experience in Chicago, though, they cite his exposure to the angry sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “black liberation theology,” a movement that emerged in the late 1960s and blended the Social Gospel with the black power movement.

Bass, the church historian, says another black pastor shaped Obama’s theology more: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He attended liberal Protestant seminaries where he learned about the Social Gospel’s concern for the entire person, soul and body.

Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, seen here praying at Obama’s inauguration, but many still doubt his faith.

King once wrote that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them …is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

But King and the black church also fused the Social Gospel with an emotional fervor missing from white Protestant churches, Bass says. Other presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the Social Gospel, but they weren’t shaped by the black church.

“This is the first time we’re hearing the Social Gospel from the perspective of the black church from the Oval Office. It makes it warmer, more emotive, more communal," Bass says. "There is less fear of linking the Social Gospel with the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of Exodus and Jesus’ healings.”

The emphasis on community uplift - not individual attainment - may strike some Americans as socialist. But the emphasis on community is part of King’s “Beloved Community,” Bass says.

King once wrote that all people are caught up in an “inescapable network of mutuality… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”

“When I listen to Obama, I don’t hear communism, I hear the Beloved Community,” Bass says. “But a lot of white Americans don’t hear that because they never sat in those churches and heard it over and over again. It’s the whole theology that motivated MLK and the civil rights movement.”

Obama is not a Christian, some think

For some, Obama’s actions in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity.

Jesus was nonviolent. Obama has ramped up drone attacks in Afghanistan that have not only removed terrorists, but killed civilians.

The Bible talks about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Obama invoked Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule," Obama told ABC News during his announcement.

Jesus talked about helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health care law that taxed the rich to help the poor, some Christians argue.

But Wallis of Sojourners says Obama’s push for health care was a supreme example of Christian faith.

A situation where 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance is “a fundamental Christian problem,” Wallis says.

“Health is such a Gospel issue. Jesus was involved in healing all the time, and to have some people excluded from health care because they lack wealth is a fundamental Christian contradiction.”

Wallis has been one of the most persistent defenders of Obama’s faith. But no matter how much Scripture he and others cite, doubts about Obama’s faith have followed him throughout his political career.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once said that Obama distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible “to fit his own world, his own confused theology.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, publicly questioned Obama’s faith, then later apologized.

Conservative Christian books and websites are filled with stories of Obama allegedly trying to suppress the nation’s Christian heritage.

The Rev. Steven Andrew, author of “Making a Strong Nation,” says Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and he’s ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.

“That’s the most serious thing someone can do to a nation, trying to separate a nation from God,” he says. “He seems to be trying to change the Christian laws our Founding Fathers made.”

Andrew says Obama is actually an enemy of Christianity. In his book, Andrew argues that the Founding Fathers were Christians who created a “covenant Christian nation” and calls for a “national repentance.”

“I think he’s an anti-Christ,” Andrew says.  Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice isn’t Christianity.

Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism,” Cass says.

“Do I believe in caring for the poor and oppressed? Yes. But you don’t do it along the lines of communistic redistributing.”

Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights also disqualifies him from being a Christian, Cass says.

“It’s the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America.  On every social issue – the sanctity of life and of marriage between men and women – Obama is on the wrong side of every moral issue,” he says.

He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.

“No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible,” Cass says. “These progressives who say they’re Christians are liars. They’re using Christianity as a guise to advance their own agenda.”

Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.

“He’s conflicted,” Cass says. “He has Muslim sympathies from his upbringing."

How progressive Christianity lost the public square

There was a time when Obama’s brand of Christianity would have been understood by millions of Americans, historians say.

Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha leave church after attending a Sunday prayer service.

The Social Gospel and progressive Protestantism dominated the American religious square from the end of the 19th century up to the 1960s. At times, the traditions blended together so seamlessly that it was hard to tell the difference.

The Social Gospel rose out of the excesses of the Gilded Age in the 1880s, when urban poverty spread across America as immigrants crammed into filthy slums to work long hours in unsafe conditions.

Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor in a New York slum, urged the church to take “social sins” as seriously as they took individual vices. Churches began feeding the poor and fighting against other social ills.

“The notion that religious people should be about feeding the poor and helping the homeless is a carryover of the Social Gospel,” says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. The Social Gospel was adopted by many Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th century, says Bass, the church historian. Some of the Social Gospel churches grew popular because they provided the poor with everything from English classes to sewing instructions and basketball leagues.

“The first American megachurches were liberal, Social Gospel urban churches,” Bass says.

The Social Gospel, though, sparked a backlash from a group of pastors during World War I. They were called fundamentalists. They published a pamphlet listing the “fundamentals of the faith:” Biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Adam and Eve.

But the fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.

Though Scopes lost, fundamentalist Christians were mocked in the press as “anti-intellectual rubes,” and a number of states suspended pending legislation that would have made teaching evolution illegal, says David Felten, author of “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”

The trial drove fundamentalists underground where they created a subculture, their own media networks, seminaries and megachurches, he says.

That subculture thrives today, Felten says, and has infiltrated the political arena. It has created an “alternative intellectual universe” that denies science, rational thought – and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a Christian, Felten says.

“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve – so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felten says.

Progressive Christians eventually lost the messaging wars to this fundamentalist subculture, Bass says. Their nuanced view of faith couldn’t compete with the “spiritual triumphalism” of conservatives.

“If you get up and say we’re right and we have the truth, then you have a powerful public message,” she says. “They have a theological advantage in the public discourse. It’s comforting to have things clear, to have things black and white.”

The result today is that the Protestant tradition that shapes much of Obama’s Christianity is fading from public view.

The share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

White mainline Protestants make up only 15% of the nation’s population, the survey revealed. The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

Another generation of Christians, though, may bring a new version of progressive Christianity back.

The lines between younger conservative Christians and progressives are blurring, says Marcia Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Pally spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She says her research revealed that more than 60% of young evangelicals support more governmental programs to aid the needy, as well as more emphasis on economic justice and environmental protection issues.

“What’s interesting is that these values, associated with Obama and the black Protestant tradition are now also the values of a growing number of white evangelicals,” she says.

Her perspective suggests that Obama’s faith may be treated by history in two ways:

He could be seen as the last embodiment of a progressive version of Christianity that went obsolete.

Or he could be seen as a leader who helped resurrect a dying brand of Christianity for a new generation.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church • Courts • Creationism • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Evolution • evolvution • Faith • Fundamentalism • Gay marriage • Gay rights • God • History • Homosexuality • Interfaith issues • Obama • Protestant • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage • Schools • Science

soundoff (8,626 Responses)
  1. calkinsart

    excuse me. i forgot we were in little podunk america. this is crap disguised as news

    October 22, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  2. Ebonyeyes

    I really think you went to far. You do not know what type of Christian he is? Wow...thank God you admitted that he is a Christian.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Dippy

      It's "too", not "to".

      October 22, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  3. yeahItsMe72

    If one can't use their Christianity to judge others and explain their own pre-ordained good fortunes while simultaneously explaining why others struggles are due to their own short comings and lack of faith, then what use is it?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  4. tim

    isn't romney a mormon? christian sects are one thing, but in my eyes mormon is something different.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  5. Pike

    CkenI don't see the atheists as wanting to get rid of all religion, and neither do I see All Muslims wanting to kill anyone who does not believe as they do. I'm not going to say anything other than please. Consider what you posted and ask yourself if you truly believe what you initially wrote.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  6. What

    To see a guy like Cass being quoted in what is presumably a legitimate news article or blog is ridiculous. The words he speaks are full of condescending rhetoric, as if he is someone who can judge who is a Christian and who isn't. It's arrogant for him to presume he can do so.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  7. James

    I s O b a m a t h e w r o n g k i n d o f C h r i s t i a n ?

    Of course....just go look at any high-resolution pictures of his hands.

    He's wearing a ring with stylized Arabic scroll which reads "there is no God except Allah."

    Don't believe me? Go take a look...I wish you would.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Len

      What an imagination!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Observer

      Of course we don't believe you since Snopes offered good proof that you are WRONG.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • A Frayed Knot


      Look at the high res. picture of the ring on Snopes . com. It is NOT Arabic writing (even stylized).

      It could just as well be wavy pasta.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • James


      Pardon me while I regain my composure. That was too funny.

      Next thing you'll be telling me that Michelle isn't Barack Obama's "beard."

      But please don't say it... right now, I don't want to start laughing again.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • James

      Remember Obama's speech in Cairo. Yes, I do mean the one where he mentioned knowing Islam on three continents.

      This is no condemnation, it's always possible that he comes to know Jesus on this continent! Yes, I realize it's really slim odds, but still, I maintain that it's technically possible. If these kinds of things couldn't happen, no one would buy lottery tickets... 😉

      October 22, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  8. jo an

    As always Obama is way out front...Romney is way behind...We have to see how many 'behinders' there are...The world is watching.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  9. tom69huck

    not that any of this matters since god nor jesus are real; the bible was written by men and jesus may have been a real man but he had no mystical powers, it was all just parlor tricks he learned from the charlatans of Egypt who also used religion and fear of a god to control the population and demand order and money in exchange for protection and salvation; thankfully (to nobody in particular of course), we are moving out of the age of pisces, the fish, the jesus age, and into the age of aquarius, the psychic energy, spiritual energy age, where people are awakening to realize that the myths of old are nothing more than ways to explain the complexities of the mind-our id, ego, and superego, as we are only our own god, and our own ideals and belief systems are all that rule us and all that matter! some people are taking forever to wake up to the truth, and sadly, most of them never will. luckily enough for everyone, they won't have to go to hell, since it also doesn't exist, created by men to scare people into obeying the law and giving them money to avoid the place, the same as parents scare their kids into behaving with tales of the boogeyman

    October 22, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  10. Pike

    If all evangelicals were of the same mind as you dp Richmond, then perhaps life would be better,sadly this appears not to be the case and the majority of evangelicals appear to be desirous of forcing their belief/doctrine on all and sundry without any consideration of common sense and or scientific value.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • dprichmond

      the problem is (and both sides are guilty) is that no one wants to have a conversation anymore. We want to take our view, jam it down the throat and then gloat in our 'rightness'. A better approach would be to ask, 'Why do you find this reasonable? How does this make sense to you? Why specifically about my view confuses/angers/baffles you?' Of course a comment thread is hardly the place to do this. I much prefer face to face talks, where body language, voice inflection, etc. can prevent a good point from being taken as a personal attack.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  11. fsmgroupie

    " an alternative intellectual universe " that denies science , rational thought- and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a christian --- kinda sounds like Bizarro World

    October 22, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  12. Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir

    Barrack Hussain Obama is in fact a Muslim . We know our own .
    Inshallah , Allah will have his revenge on you filthy Infidels !
    Obama Biden 2012 ! For the Caliphate ! For Allah and Islam !

    October 22, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Roger Tallywhacher

      You are hilarious!!! What's your real name – Michele Bachmann??

      October 22, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Tyler

      I wonder how many virgins Obama will earn himself in the next life for this inside job he's pulling on America.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Observer


      Guess you missed the news when Donald Trump and the rest of the birthers made complete FOOLS of themselves when it was verified that Obama had a birth certificate from Hawaii. SOME people just don't learn.

      Surprised you missed the story. All the news networks carried it and FOX News.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Tyler

      2.8 million dollars could easily get anybody a phoney birth certificate in Hawaii.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  13. Blane

    The simple fact is that there are people who will never know what it is like to be called by God. That's why you see so much hate directed at Christians on this blog. It's not worth arguing with unbelievers. It is a waste of time. I pity them. They are bitter in this life and destined for hell in the next.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • John

      What you are experiencing is resistance to those Christians who are, themselves, hateful, and intolerant. It's along the same lines as skinheads complaining that people who speak out against their beliefs all hate white people. There are plenty of nice, accepting Christians out there. Why can't they all be like that?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Pike

      Blane,where on earth are you seeing hate directed at Christians....???

      I do see you threatening hell in the next life because there are certain people you perceive as being unchristian in this life. Wow, that really makes me want to join your team!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  14. mlblogsyankeeblogspot

    Okay these are the issues-
    People passing out, crying, Obama saying the oceans were going to change, presented himself as the savior to all past problems in our country. saying America would fundamentally change because of him, waging class warefare and limiting free enterprise in our nation. This so called Christian is the first to openly accept gay marriage as a political stance, which if you want to not believe what the bible says about it then fine, but this wasn't his stance when running in Chicago against a conservative black candidate. Anyone who says the affordable care act is Christian isn't familiar with the bible. Did God come down to the earth take the wealth of Rome, or the Jews devide it up, and make equal outcomes. No he said to the rich man give your wealth to the poor, and come follow me. Jesus left the man with choice, and that friends is the distinction. Does anyone argue that God is the highest authority? If God is all powerfull then why hasnt he changed society to even the playing field? the answer is found in the beginning of the bible, man shal bring forth bread by the sweat of his brow, and it shal be for his good. Does God seem like a man that changes with the times ? The answer is obvious, times change by him. He is Alpha, and Omega, the beginning and the end. Hope and change is individualistic in nature, it's self betterment, and comes from God not man. Hope is for God, and the bible says cursed is he that puts his faith in the arm of flesh. Gods spirit tells us when man has done something right, and glory to God alone be given when he does. Pontus Pilot said to Jesus "don't you know I have the power to crucify you", and Jesus said "you would have no power over me were it not given you from above". God gives man liberty, should man take it away ?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Observer

      "Does God seem like a man that changes with the times ? The answer is obvious, times change by him."

      Why not read the Bible sometime? Jesus' death convinced God to change ALL the rules about killing people for their sins. Of course God changed with the times according to the Bible.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • mlblogsyankeeblogspot

      Gods laws do not change. Mans understanding of them does, Jesus fulfilled the heart of the law of Moses, mercy.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Observer


      Of course the laws changed. Do we follow God's commands to do all the mindless killing, like kill unruly children?

      Read the Bible sometime.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • mlblogsyankeeblogspot

      Are we in Israel and is pharoh killing all firstborn if the Hebrews, is everyone slaves to false gods of Egypt. To liken this to our time is ignorant.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Observer


      Speaking of ignorant, did God change his rules about killing anyone who works on the Sabbath? Are we to kill all major league baseball players, NBA players and NFL players, or did he CHANGE the rules?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • mlblogsyankeeblogspot

      It's obvious you can read, so ill answer that question when you can tell me why the law of Moses needed to be strict for Israel back then. If you can figure that out then ill be impressed, but until then your an atheist looking through a stained glass window of your own making trying to understand things oboe your spiritual pay grade so to speak.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Observer


      Sorry you missed the question. Here it is:

      Did God change his rules about killing anyone who works on the Sabbath? Are we to kill all major league baseball players, NBA players and NFL players, or did he CHANGE the rules?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • mlblogsyankeeblogspot

      I will answer as soon as you give me an answer. God doesn't change, Jesus said the law of Moses is like a man, he changes but he remains the same man throughout his life. When you finally get my question and answer it, I will give you all the answers you want.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Observer


      Still completely stumped?

      God even admitted he changed the rules on how long people would live.

      Read the Bible sometime. Maybe you can answer questions then.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • mlblogsyankeeblogspot

      Okay maybe you can answer a question for me. Which is more barbaric a few Israelites breaking the law of Moses and incurring a death penalty or tens of thousands of abortions a day. At least Israelites agreed themselves to live the law what choice does that little one have. You viper, nothing is sacred to you, troll somewhere else.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • Observer


      "You viper, nothing is sacred to you,"

      I asked you a question based on FACT in the Bible and you resort to juvenile name-calling.

      There's no point in continuing listening to you trying to hide. You have actually answered my question. You and I both know the answer so you are fooling no one but yourself.

      Read the Bible so you can answer simple quesions next time. Good luck.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • mlblogsyankeeblogspot

      Whatever goodnight troll

      October 22, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  15. mama k

    "Wrong kind of Christian" is a phrase that was most likely used a lot when our government was first being established. Different Christian sects were feuding and persecuting around that time in several states (or soon-to-be states). Because this feuding between these sects annoyed our founders so greatly, they made it a top priority to establish the separation of church and state (and to make it Amendment #1 of our Constitution). This is also reflected in what some of the key founders had to say on the matter:

    James Madison (our 4th President, was the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785)

    and then ten years later:

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795)

    Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd President, was the key author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

    (Letter (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808))

    and then of course we have clarifying moments in history such as:

    President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    (from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797)

    Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Doc Ock

      Well said

      October 22, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  16. Pike

    I find it astonishing that so many people Are prepared to blindly go forth in their so called faith despite all evidence pointing to the contrary regarding their beliefs and yet these people happily demonize so many philanthropists simply because they do not 'toe the party line'
    We really need to start thinking for ourselves regarding what is right and what is wrong,. Is that so difficult.?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  17. All Said

    I don't mind people having personal religious beliefs as long as they don't try to push them on me.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  18. CKEN

    The problem is Obama was never vetted by the media. To question his religion, his character, morality, and belief in American values is not an attack; it is proper vetting. If, and I say if, Obama's basic belief system is Islamic, then his primary core objective would be to destroy America. The first lady said she wasn't proud of America until we elected a black president. Does that mean she hates whites, like the Rev White does.
    The point is when it comes to the Obamas there are too many unanswered questions.
    At least when Romney gets elected we will know for sure he and Ann actually love the country and are proud to be Americans. These are things no one can say 100% for sure about the Obamas

    October 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Sam

      Romney's a Mormon, and Mormons aren't Christian. Mormons place their church before their country.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Observer


      "The problem is Obama was never vetted by the media. To question his religion, his character, morality, and belief in American values is not an attack; it is proper vetting"

      Funniest statement of the night. Ever heard of Rev. Wright (not White)? They went back 30 years of tapes to try to find something to trash Obama with.

      Get serious.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Pike

      Oh for goodness sake please read what you have written. Surely you cannot believe what you are suggesting?
      That would be akin to me suggesting that the romneys are so wrapped up in their Mormon cult that they would likely make every effort to quash the religious freedom we have in the USA

      October 22, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • cdubb1545

      How well was Bush vetted? Romney isn't even a Christian! Its a race issue, it always has been and it always will be. I found it absolutely astonishing that all these uber-Christians know so much about the Bible yet, can't understand that Mormon doctrine and Christian doctrine conflict on the very keystone of their respective doctrines. If you were to EDUCATE yourselves, instead of trying to look for a way to be ambiguously racist, you would save yourself the embarrassment of your ridiculous argument. Beliefs are 'subjective facts'. They are merely one's own perspective on how to understand their environment. They are not fact however, and should not be accepted as such.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Tyler

      Not Christian? Go to lds.org and then tell me Mormons are not Christians. Thanks!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  19. dprichmond

    This article totally oversimplifies the conservative view of Scripture. Do I believe in the historical narrative of the Bible and interpret it, by and large, literally? Yes, but I also believe in helping the poor and underprivileged. It's not an either/or proposition, it's a yes/both. A Gospel that only saves people from their physical needs while neglecting their spiritual need (sinners in need of forgiveness) is no Gospel at all.

    October 22, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  20. albie

    evangelicals are the most harmful, hateful group in this country – I "pray" the for day when religion is frowned upon as being an uneducated, backward and delusional way of life. This country and the world would be a much better place without the crazy cults of religious fanatics.

    October 22, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • dprichmond

      and we evangelicals love and tolerate you too

      October 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • CKEN

      Yet it is the atheists who want to get rid of all religion, and the Muslims whose objective is to kill any who don't believe as they do. Evangelicals leave much to be improved upon, but may still be the best available choice. People need something to believe in. If we are born and ultimately become worm food what is the incentive to be a good person. There is no gene for goodness; in fact we are seemingly hardwired to be selfish and inflict pain and cruelty. Science provides no answers to even basic questions that aren't contradicted within the scientific community.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Len

      There are many more religious choices than just Atheist, Muslim and Evangelical, you know? In the bigger scheme of things your idea of a "best choice" doesn't even come close.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • ChitownDoc

      Albie, you probably never talked to a real Christian. If you did, you would not be so naive as to say something so ignorant. There are many highly educated, kind and loving Christians in this world. They truly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and hate is not part of their vocabulary nor should it be tolerated. Sure there are people who give Christianity a bad name; there are these kinds of people in every group. However, to accept the MSNBC/Hollywood stereotypes of Christianity is rather shallow.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:34 am |
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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.