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. Beloved4ever

    And Lastly, "Once the Moral Character of a People Degenerate, Their Political character will soon Follow."
    - Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress 1783.

    I Trust in Jesus.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Beloved4ever

      Then again i love crack and molesting sheep to

      October 22, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • WachetAuf

      If you trust Jesus, do you also trust his message of tolerance?

      October 22, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • sam stone

      What makes you think that the morality supposedly applicable to iron age man in a middle eastern desert has any relevance to 21st century man?

      October 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  2. foustscreendesigns

    I am a born again christian that by the relationship I have experienced with Jesus Christ in my life has proven to me that Jesus is the son of God and anyone in any faiths savior if they will accept him as Gods son and be born again as Jesus told Nicodemus that you MUST be born again and not just religious. Any president or candidate running for this office if he claims he is a christian should not shy away from the statement that he is born again if he truly is that is, also he should believe what Jesus himself said about he is the way and the only way to God and no man shall come unto the father except by him, which excludes any other paths or religions to God and also if you believe you can go to God through any other way you discredit the cross and the blood of Christ which is the only thing that cleanses the sins and the complete gospel message has no meaning. We are saved through what Christ did on the cross otherwise that crucifixion would have been in vain and we are still in our sins without the blood sacrifice of Christ, he was the sinless sacrifice, we are saved through faith and grace lest any man should boast of his own works scripture says. Anyone who says that Jesus is not the son of God is the spirit of antichrist the scripture says in the book of John. which takes in these religions that say Jesus was only a prophet and that God had no son, that is blasphemy. I believe that any President or candidate for this office if he claims he is a christian should adhere to the scriptures in these basic truths and definitely not give christianity a back seat to all these other beliefs or religions especially when our nation was formed in christianity and God principles which is the truth that we started as a christian nation and still are , the muslim countries dont apologize for being a muslim country while praying to mecca and muhammed and allah and blaring it out over loud speakers, if you are a christian visiting or living there you just have to hear it and accept you are in their land of that type religion. Also the moral issues that any President tip toes around like abortion and gay marriage, God loves the gay person but his holy scripture says its not his way and it is sin, and abortion is killing a life of innocent blood, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God , we've been drunkards, liars, thieves, fornicators blasphemers and all these sins but we must repent from these things if we expect to go to heaven. I think anyone who is President or is a candidate for President if he says he is a christian should believe and uphold these Gods word truths.Gods holy word says "If my people that are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land." lets try this fellow Americans and anyone wanting to be our leaders.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • bob

      Now if you put as much time into finding a job as you did in this post things could change w/o having to pray

      October 22, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  3. Joey P

    This article seems to make a lot of sense; it clarifies a fundamental difference between two directions that the country is headed toward, both of which are based on Christianity. To be a Christian, you basically would have to accept (out of pure faith) that Jesus Christ is the Savior through whom you would receive eternal Salvation.

    Conservatives are all about personal Salvation, me this, me that, me me me… while Progressives say… wait a minute, Jesus wasn’t about me me me, it’s about us us us. How can you receive personal Salvation when all those around you are suffering? Jesus was about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, uplifting the underclass, healing the sick, etc. In this sense it is somewhat similar to Buddhism.

    To Progressives, Christianity seems more like a way of life, a code to live by if you will. To Conservatives, Christianity is more like life itself. It is the absolute truth, its historic scriptures dictate the present and future, and no rational thoughts that deviate from the Bible can be accepted. There is some parallel to what we see with the various sects of Islam; each group claiming to be the true Islam and willing to kill others over it.

    Since we live in a predominately Christian country, let’s hope that we don’t down that road where religious fervor turns into physical intolerance.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  4. pc

    Jeremiah Wright was Obama's spiritual mentor. Quote,"The question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be."

    October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • WachetAuf

      Jesus himself was seen as an extremist by the leaders of the herd. He challenged the Taliban-like authorthy which was stoning women for sinning. He instructed other remedies.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  5. Paul

    Who bloody cares if Obama is Christian at all, never mind Christian enough, or the right kind or colour of Christian. Seriously your country is so bound up over trying to out-pious each other, but how many "Christian" politicians have been unethical d-bags? Rmoney is supposed to be a religious leader, but he is dishonest and selfish. Bush was supposed to be a good Christian, but he sent thousands of men and women to kill and die over his ego. Never mind the current crop of evangelicals all trying to out-extreme each other, to the detriment of so many Americans' rights. Keep religion out of politics, and start making churchesnpa taxes. I would sooner trust my future to someone who feels ultimately accountable in this life, not expecting to have his or her record cleared before the next one.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  6. mama k

    If we could trust our elected officials to keep religion out of their public service, then we wouldn't need the 1st Amendment. "Paul Ryan" says that he doesn't think he can separate his faith from his public service. That's a dangerous notion, considering some of the hotly contested issues of the day are embedded in religion. It's difficult to understand Mr. Romney's stance on separation or just about any other issue, since the little insight he does give changes as fast as a 3-month old's diaper.

    Different Christian sects were feuding and persecuting each other over various issues around around the time that our government was being founded in several states (or soon-to-be states). Because this feuding between these sects annoyed our key 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 they 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 10:57 am |
  7. pc

    Jeremiah Wright was Obama's spiritual mentor. Quote, "It is incontestable and deplorable that [African Americans] have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society."

    October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • WachetAuf

      So? what is your point? Please cite scripture as your guide.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  8. Sandy

    If jesus came back today he would throw every damned (yes they are damned) fundamentalist out of their churches because all of them have so twisted his teachings into something evil and nothing like he intended. Fundamentalists are the False Prophets of his time.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • upside down

      What did He intend? Can you please enlightened us?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Sandy

      But then again since its a fairy tale i dont think that will happen, what kinda idiots would belive such nonsense

      October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  9. Murray

    Since when did the US change from being a nation founded on freedom, and specifically religious freedom, to one founded under Christianity?

    Religious oppression, no matter what religion it is supported by, is still wrong. This requires a separation of church and state. Otherwise not all souls n your nation will be free. If not all souls are free, then you have no right to raise yourselves up as the bastion of freedom in this world.

    Hold true your own beliefs but do not impose them on others. Letting your religious beliefs creep into your laws undermines the so-called freedom your country was founded on.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • RevWright

      Congrats. You just figured out the fallacy of the strawman that the media creates. A small group of outspoken republicans think this country was founded on Christian freedoms so they blow it up. Of course anyone can practice whatever. Don't let the left sell you on this caricature they created of republicans.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  10. pc

    Jeremiah Wright was Obama's spiritual mentor. Quote, "I am convinced that [this] is one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world... The judgment of God is upon us today."

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  11. KJ

    Well no longer can Fox News followers say CNN is biased to the Democratic Party after this article has the biggest spot at the top of the page and is ridiculously long... Neither candidate's religious views should be front and center right before election time.. Shame on you CNN for posting this...

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • MCFx

      You obviously didn't read the "long" article. This article trys to paint "Progressive Christianity" as this acceptable form of Christianity that was once popular and now should be: acceptance of gay marriage, acceptance of abortion, government social programs to help the poor. All of which is no where to be found in the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ. This article is actually trying to tell the American public, "Obama is a Christian" by trying to tell us "the duck that's talking like a duck and walking like a duck is actually NOT a duck...He's a Progressive Christian...just like you." And this is fundamentally wrong!

      October 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  12. CMW

    I live in the deep south in a very red state. I don't know a single republican who lives by basic Christian principles as set out in Matthew 25. I'm with Obama – and Matthew 25.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  13. indywest

    This article is nothing but an attack from the right wing against the president. So if Obama is not enough of a Christian for the right wing how are they going to support Romney who isn't a Christian at all!

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • NooYawkah

      At least he doesn't lie about it. Obama really is a different kind of Christian. A Muslim Christian.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  14. Aaron

    None of us can judge or know whether another is truly a Christian or not. What am troubled by is the lack of balance on both sides. Fundamentalists DO tend to ignore justice, live, mercy, etc. Jesus stated that these were the more important parts of the law. However, progressives think that loving other people means that sin cannot be called sin. Sin is real. Jesus, who died to pay for them, would be the first to acknowledge that. But he didn't come to condemn, but to forgive. There must be a balance.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • WachetAuf

      I sympathize with your view to some degree. You are seeking some "balance". But you, and all other miss the central point of Jesus' teaching. Jesus explicitly said that he is not here to destroy the law but to fulfill it. So, what you see with Jesus is that he is giving us a new set of remedies. He faced down the Taliban-like leaders of his day and instructed them to change the remedy. The sin of adultery was punishable by death, just as it is in some Muslim countries today. Jesus stood up and challenged those who were getting ready to stone Mary to death. he demand that they not cast the first stone. Today, the fundamentalists/evangelicals are following the example set by the Taliban. They believe in an Old Testament remedy for everything. They do not follow Jesus' message of tolerance. They would put every woman and her doctor in prison for having an abortion. yes, I sympathize with their issue over abortion. It is a moral issue. BUT, there are many other remedies other than prison. Reflect on it. Follow Jesus' message, not the Taliban's.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  15. WachetAuf

    Gandhi was thought to be the most "Christ" like man of his generation. He utilized non-violent means to change the world. He was meditative and contemplative. He did seem to love his neighbors and do unto others as he would have them do unto him. Some "Christian" leaders invited him to become a "Christian". He declined. "Christianity", for me, has devolved into pagan ritual which enriches and empowers its leaders. It is a true "cult" because its focus is on the person of Jesus and the trappings of ritual. It is driven by primitive Darwinian herding impulse. Only the fittest survive, not the most true. The most true are a threat to the herd's survival. They are always murdered, either literally or figuratively. It is the one thing about Jesus' story which the herd does not want you to know. He was a threat to the herd. They must have seen him as an arrogant man who brazenly rode back into Jerusalem one fine time. His act and his murder established the pattern for other generations to follow for all time to eternity. It would never occur to any authority to simply sit down and have an open, honest and principled dialogue with a man who sought tolerance. Who do you know in politics who will have that dialogue with anyone who is seen to be a threat?

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  16. Steel city girl

    These most "Reverend" men speaking on behalf of All Christians need to go back God and ask his forgivness. How dare they assume to know what a true Christian is. If those most reverend men followed "their" bibles word for word, well lets just all have a laugh. I am a Christian, I do take one line in the bible to be the most effective way of handeling all the bible thumpers in this land, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

    October 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  17. Captain Kirk

    Maybe Mitt Romney wants to start WW3 since he knows the Mormon bunkers are all full and ready to cleanse the earth. Be afraid people.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • acdjc

      You need to clear all the klingons from your brain there Captain Kirk.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • sam stone

      Come on, Captain Kirk....his kids won't have to go into it, so what does it matter to him? He is like Shrub in that sense

      October 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  18. Ryan

    Caring for the poor should not be a "different" kind of Christian – that was supposed to be the default of Christianity.
    It's the big business interests of the right wing that have conned people into believing otherwise – that obscene private gains from huge public losses are somehow morally correct.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • ryanwin

      The thing you need to understand about the right is not that they are all out to glut themselves on the backs of the poor. Most republicans are not wealthy. And most wealthy people are not republican. Look at Hollywood. The truth is, the reason that republicans do not think the wealthy should be taxed so much to pay for the poor is because they believe the system to care for the poor should be voluntary and not forced. Did Jesus force anyone to care for the poor? No.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  19. dabbie

    Since when do we questions someone Christianity in this country? The President says he is a Christian so he is a Christian. I am a Christian and I feel my beliefs lie very close to the President's. Are evangelicals more christian than other Christians?

    This article is crap. Where's the one about Mormonism? Is their Christianity the same as evangelicals? Get real CNN!

    We live in a country where EVERYONE is free to worship or not worship as they please. Why question that???

    October 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • billym67

      Actually, religion is crap and this article is just feeding the delusion!

      October 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      That's just silly! If someone says something, you can ask them to qualify it. In this case, all evidence points to Obama not being a Christian by his theology. He called Sunday the Sabbath, he called Jesus most famous speech extreme, and his book is riddled with information on others religions.

      BTW, saying anything doesn't make it so. People have to back up their information with proof. (That also works best in debates as well!)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  20. Wardo

    Comical – he claims to be a Christian because he wants your vote!

    October 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • dabbie

      Prove it

      October 22, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • oneSTARman

      Yeah that Romney couldn't Tell the Truth if Jesus's Brother LUCIFER ordered him to.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • It's Rather Amusing

      We went through this the last time when Obama was running for President. Really, now he's a 'different kind of Christian'? Give it a rest, CNN.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      Dabbie, reread the comment you just posted again. Here you do exactly what you accuse others of doing!

      October 22, 2012 at 11:02 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.