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. Truman

    You want to know another name for the type of Christian that Obama is.......how about hypocrite.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • ArthurP

      All Christians are hypocrites.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Look up Scott DesJarlais – that's a hypocrite. Just because Obama isn't rigidly dogmatic doesn't make him a hypocrite – that's the "no true Scotsman" fallacy

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Big D

      Yay Aruthur! That is the truth!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • One And Done

      Of course Obama is a hypocrite....and a liar....and lives in a fantasy land in his head. During tonight's debate Obama stated hiring more teachers "would create more jobs." How in Obama's imagination is that going to work? Obama thinks hiring more teachers will create more jobs. Nancy Pelosi believes unemployment checks create more jobs. They are both kooks, hypocrites, and liars. Obama has lowered the office of the presidency and tried to dumb down the American people he does not realize people think of him as a clown. Obama deserves to be fired on November 6.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  2. Jerry Lemieux

    Obama's form of religion is liberation theology which is neither religion nor theology. Your language filters preclude posting quotes from James H. Cone's book on that particular form of liberation theology because of the racist, hate filled nature of those quotes.

    If one reads up on that "so called" religion, the only conclusion one can reach is that it is racist Marxism, couched as theology.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Scott

      Actually Jerry I don't think BoBo is a member of any religion. You have to keep in mind that BoBo is a Chitcago/lawyer/politician so it will be a Christian, Muslim, Atheist or whatever it needs to be to get a vote. The dirtbag would even claim to be a Mormon if it thought it could get more votes by being one.


      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Jerry Lemieux

      @Scott: Which is precisely why he claims that phony, pseudo religion as his basis for being a Christian. The reality is that he is nothing more then a hate filled, racist ex-crackhead Marxist.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Scott. Upset that your boy is losing? Romney is the epitome of flip-flopper: abortion, contraception, gays in the military, bail outs, etc

      October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Jerry. What nonsense. Are you KKKidding?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Jerry Lemieux

      @Romnesia: Get back with me after you:

      a. Learn to read.

      b. Read James H. Cone's book.

      Until then, stick your head back into your shorts and continue gnawing on that chicken sandwich.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jerry Lemieux

      With a little help fro diaeresis, here are some quotes to substantiate my assertions:

      "Whitenes̈s̈ is̈ the s̈ymböl öf the Änti-chris̈t."

      "The göäl öf bläck theölögy is̈ the des̈tructiön öf everything white, s̈ö thät bläcks̈ cän be liberäted fröm älien göds̈."

      "The bläck experience is̈ the feeling öne häs̈ when ättäcking the enemy öf bläck humänity by thröwing ä Mölötöv cöcktäil intö ä white-öwned building änd wätching it gö up in flämes̈. We knöw, öf cöurs̈e, thät getting rid öf evil täkes̈ s̈ömething möre thän burning döwn buildings̈, but öne mus̈t s̈tärt s̈ömewhere."

      "Bläck theölögy s̈eeks̈ tö änälyze the s̈ätänic näture öf whitenes̈s̈ änd by döing s̈ö prepäre äll nönwhites̈ för revölutiönäry äctiön."

      "We häve reäched öur limit öf töleränce, änd if it meäns̈ deäth with dignity ör life with humiliätiön we will chöös̈e the förmer. Änd if thät is̈ the chöice, we will täke s̈öme hönkies̈ with us̈."

      "Tö be bläck is̈ tö be cömmitted tö des̈tröying everything this̈ cöuntry löves̈ änd ädöres̈."

      October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  3. Jamie

    American Christianity needs a large, healthy dose of orthodox Buddhism to set it straight!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  4. jimmy Bivins

    I'm amazed at how many people expect President Obama to walk on water! He has been criticized for birth, religion, faith, not being black enough, not helping the poor, and the list goes on. Well, can we find a perfect President save the free world? Come on your getting weak i the knees! Tell me, who is the perfect individual to take the office? You can't answer the question! because the office is to big and polarized for any one person. For all of us Christians, it's amazing how we pick one issue and beat it into the ground. When we sat and let banks steal our money and bankrupt the country. Where was the church! We said nothing! Pres Obama comes in and gets things on track. And many Christians wanted him to fail from the beginning. And don't let me get started on civil rights. I'm convinced that this country cannot handle a president of color or woman. Have any of you noticed how fast the world is changing.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  5. Fisher

    I do not have a job, my insurance has been increasing in the last 4 years
    , Please america open your eyes, we have a business man and a politician Obama give you candy with his speech and not substance he is not a leader, and want a second term and will take america nowhere, rommey wants to give something. he has it all already. and is hope, Please not more lies open your eyes.
    Obama should reform insurance first and make affordable, doctors, and all health system make to much money.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Terminator Jesus: I'm be back . . . to kill everyone

      You lost your job because of the economic meltdown that occured under W. Your insurance rose during his presidency too.

      And your "businessman" mostly sent jobs to China or shut down corporations entirely.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • visitor

      Your insurance has gone up the past 4 years only? Mine has gone up every year for the past 30 years.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • kroah

      I think he tried that? remember the 'Government Option' in his plan and the GOP striped that from ObamaCare – thanks to old Joe Liberman. Everyone I know was for the 'Government Option' which would have IMHO forced the Insurance Company to start competing against the government.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  6. mfgendron

    CNN, PLEASE stop with your religious articles. STOP.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • yeahalright

      I know right? It really stinks that you were dragged from your bed at gunpoint and forced to read an article in the BELIEF section on CNN.com.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      CNN has me banned from the mainstream discusssions, over some science I posted on Linght Speed; even though because what I posted is science, Lightspeed still allows me to post. I like to participate and therefore the religion articles are my second favorites. There are good reasons to know the morals of our elected leaders and those ideas come from somewhere.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Mars

      I'm not religious, but we live on an extremely religious planet. If one doesn't understand religion, one cannot understand humanity. We need more and better religious literacy education, and more and better religious journalism.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Romnesia

      Quick, tell Fox News. A "war on John".

      October 23, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  7. TRUTH

    The BIBLE says work out your own soul salvation

    October 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Yet most Christian Churches teach their congregations to follow their hearts, the opposite of Christ's teachings.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  8. Jake M

    I Always thought the definition of Christian was "I follow and believe the Nicene Creed"? Hasn't that been what made a man "neither a heretic nor a heathen" ever since Christians disposed of the Arianists?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • ArthurP

      The Nicene Creed, is a government edict. No more needs to be said.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Jake: they were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26).
      And Paul was calling out heretics from early on (Gal.1:6-9) – centuries before the Nicene Creed.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • jon

      No, the Nicene Creed was created by a council of the church. It was created to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom. This means that if you believe in the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit, you are good with the church. You are a Christian.
      I think you all need to see the difference right here. As mentioned, Christianity is tolerant as long as you believe in the fundamentals, but Islam is not as accepting. It says in Islam they you should kill anyone who is not like you in the least bit. So just reading the Qur'an is not good enough. This is very bad and very scary.... 🙁 This is also why they kill their own. They all have their own beliefs of who really follows the Qur'an. Everyone else is against you. If someone, who follows the Qur'an, compromises and works with you the other factions will see him as a traitor and work against you. This happens in real life all the time, but its worse when the religion you follow tells you to do so. It magnifies the potential exponentially! So you can't speak to someone on their behalf because no one represents the whole. It's chaos! Complete chaos!!!!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  9. teb0504

    One day Obama is a Muslim – when it suits him, he's a Christian. Atleast Romney owns who he is!!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Ztom

      Yes. Thank god that Romney doesn't change his views on anything to suit his situation at the time.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • David Marks

      Obama may very well be a muslim. He was raised by Muslims and mentored by communists and atheists. The Koran teaches that to promote Islam one is expected to be deceptive, and God knows how non-transparent [remember his 2008 campaign promises?] and deceptive [again, the campaign] he actually is.

      Read the Koran and be aware. God is love. The Koran is, well...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Romnesia

      When has Obama said he's a Muslim?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • RapidOne

      not at all on both counts, you ignorant loser

      October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • visitor

      One day you say Obama is a Muslim, then not an American, or not born in America, nor not a Christian, is a secret Muslim Super Spy, swore his Presidency on the Koran, wears a secret Muslim decoder ring...blah blah blah.

      One day you might stop confusing right wing cartoons with reality, but I doubt it.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Evelyn Connaway

      teb0504 – Yes Romney is from a 172 year old man made religion by Joseph Smith – where a man had many wives to have more children to fill the church pews – they used women to do the work and the men ruled the roost according to Joseph Smith laws and the church became rich.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I suspect that teb0504 and David Marks were home-schooled by Fox News and mentored by Rush Limbaugh.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  10. zippy

    You don't have to be a Christian to get the Christian vote, but you do have do demonstrate certain values.
    To most Christians, Romney is not a Christian since Mormonism is not considered to be a Christian religion by many Christian faiths.
    Obama claims to be a Christian, but consistently takes positions at odds with most Christian's beliefs.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Ztom

      That is kind of the point of the article. Obama represents a Christian viewpoint that many Christians in the US have turned their backs on. It is a valid Christian viewpoint though. It's just that here in the US, we have been conditioned to think that the definition of Christianity is rigid. Even within many denominations (like Catholicism), there are groups that hold to Obama's point of view. Look at the Jesuits, for example.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Lisa

      Most Christians take consistently take positions at odds with their beliefs, especially when it's convenient and they don't get caught out doing it.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  11. Rick

    Simply put, Obama is not a Christian. He has a form of godliness but denies the power of God. To say that Romney is the anti-christ is to display personal ignorance of Scripture. Neither candidates are qualified in accordance to Biblical qualifications for leadership, but one has beliefs closer to them than the other.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • jp

      Obama is a believer of Black Liberation Theology (Marxism)

      October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • IronMike

      I thank god for that. I dont need another numbnu t President starting a war because "God told him so".

      October 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      jp is a believer in Reynold's Wrap helmets. It keeps the alien rays out of his head.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  12. Scott

    Typically CNN shuts down the comments on stuff that is construed to be negative about their president. However, the VAST majority of comments here are anti-Christian, so CNN is keeping the comments open. Now if the content of the comments were to change to even a large minority of anti-BoBo, the comments would be shut down.



    October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Terminator Jesus: I'm be back . . . to kill everyone

      No, stupid. Your comment got blocked because it has a hidden naughty word, like the ti.t in Consti.tution, or the cu.m in circu.mstance. Do what I just did, and the nefarious evil censors will magically vanish! You see, inserting a period is a secret prayer to Jesus, and he answers your prayer and makes the censorship so away.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • JJ

      You poor persecuted Christian. It's always pathetic when the majority who oppresses others complains when others dare raise their heads and dare request same privileges.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Scott

      I did NOT say "Blocked" I said comments turned OFF. NO ONE can post after the comments are turned off.


      October 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • yeahalright

      But Terminator...if makes him feel so important that CNN is specifically shutting down his opinions. If it's just some nameless profanity filter...well then you take away so much of his self-esteem.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  13. ArthurP

    "Old and New Testament, declare the resurrection of Messiah"

    It never says when not necessary 2000 years ago. It could be tomorrow or the next day.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  14. Rationalintn

    Out of one side of their mouth, people on the right keep screaming, "this is a Christian nation!"

    Out of the other side of their mouth, people on the right keep screaming, "our government shouldn't be forcing me to help the poor and disabled!"

    So, you want a federal government based on Christian values, but you don't want that same government to behave in a Christian manner? It's exasperating trying to understand your (lack of) logic.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Lisa

      They like to cherry-pick their Christianity. Taking care of the poor and sick costs them money. Keeping gays from marrying wouldn't cost them a cent.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Scott

      Komrade Rationalintn,

      You should get a copy of Arthur Brooks' book "Who Really Cares." In the book Mister Brooks points out, with the source of the survey material, that religious conservative give the MOST in time and money to charity. Also, religious conservatives donate the most blood.


      October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Iowaconservative

      There is no conflict here...Conservative Christians want just as much as you to help the poor and needy and yes we do not want to be forced by the government to do so. We volunteer our time and money regularly and extensively in the private sector, where we feel this duty is required and not with tax dollars. I have volunteered in homeless shelters in two major cities and the ones that rely on private donations exclusively do a MUCH better job of helping the homeless and the poor than the government run shelters. We believe in the goodness of the American people rather than corrupt, wasteful government programs.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • logic7

      Its because the government doesn't know how to define the poor or disabled. The poor to the government is those who dont have a job or those who are stuggling to make ends meet...they do not continue to ask the question why do they not have a job or why are they struggling. There are many cases where people dont have a job because they dont want one or they would rather mooch off the government. But, the government doesnt care to regulate that. An I dont know why. I donate a ton of money to my local shelter and volunteer too. Why do I need the government to tell me I need to donate to them to so they can give it to the poor...mostly because they wont. They will use it themselves and make themselves richer. See where Im going with this?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Heil Scott,

      Great, since those on the right are so generous without the government's help, then we can all agree that they can stop calling the USA a Christian nation. Since they are so secure in their Christianity, we can keep our secular government, secular. They may also take over taking care of the needs of the poor without taxpayer help. And, if they would really like to help out the taxpayers, they can start actually paying taxes themselves. Do I hear an Amen!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Scott

      Me thinks I hit a nerve on komrade Rationalintn 🙂 By the way komrade I pay taxes as do every Christian that I know ... including Christian pastors. What is tax free for religions, any religion, are the same things that are tax free for any charitable organization, i.e. 501 c 3.


      October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Yes Scott, you are correct. Americans who point out the discrepancies between illogical conservative viewpoints– we are all secretly communists. You caught us. Only communists disagree with conservatives. Wow you are so smart.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • jon

      I think the big disagreement is how to create accountability. It's simple. Keep costs down by not having the government pay for subsidies and instead give credit for charitable donations. Government run programs are inefficient, costly, and less effective. Did you ever wonder why we have charitable donations? It's because people(of their own merit) feel compelled to make a difference because it has meaning to them. Thy also feel they can do it better.

      Try donating on your own. It doesn't have to be a lot. Try donating a dollar even. You should notice the power it gives you. It's because YOU made a difference, not somebody else. The more you have the government do things for you, the more of your life is being sucked away from you. Where the rubber hits the road on this is when you perform a function or service, get paid and then pay taxes. After that point the amount in your pocket tells you how risky you can be in spending. Now you take more way through taxes it reduces your mobility and attainable actions. Like cancer, government growth can metastasize as it tries to help more and more people until your financial mobility is reduced to nothing. Guess what you have then? Yep Economic Collapse and Protesting!

      October 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  15. palintwit

    If Sarah Palin was a real christian she would have had her "special needs" baby aborted. Why bring another zuchinnni into the world with no chance of any kind of life? But then again, real christians are known to be pretty selfish.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Rodney

      You have got to be a total Idiot to make that comment.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Ruskie27

      Here's a valid question for you. If you get in an accident and become a "zucchini" is it alright if we say the heck with you and let you die? Since you want to be a complete ass and say that Palin should have had her child aborted for being disabled, then we shouldn't have to pay taxes if you ever need help, and every doctor should deny you healthcare, that way if you have a health issue you can suffer! But wait... I'm a Christian, and even though what you said was completely ignorant, I would still help you out if you got disabled. Because we are suppose to help the less fortunate and quit being selfish. What Palin did was NOT selfish, she brought a life into this world, and sadly, it seems like disabled people are smiling and laughing a lot more than us, because they see happiness in everything and cherish the small things. Unlike this world who complains about the smallest things! We all need to be thankful we have what we have and not complain about what we don't have. So before you go and run your mouth some more, just remember, one day that could be you, or one day you could have a kid that is disabled!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • WeAreOne

      Palintwit – While I am not a Palin fan whatsoever, I am the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome and it is ignorant people like you who make the world a scary place and the reason so many people do abort babies with Down syndrome. I can certainly tell you that my daughter has an amazing quality of life and is in 2nd grade with her peers, reading, in dance and cheerleading class and changing ignorant minds and hearts like your all the time. Shame on you!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jake M

      I really consider that a very interesting question. It's The Church of LDS is clearly an offshoot of Christianity, that was trying to reform the parent religion- much as Christianity & Islam were offshoots of Judaism trying to reform it. They more or less define Jesus the same way Christians do- he is a wholly divine while simultaneously wholly mortal, the human One True Prophet and only True son of God, who absolves the work of all previous prophets, and is the personal savior of mankind. Jesus's only real differences are that he's not God, and he's not the last prophet.

      The problem is that Mormons don't define God in anything like the way any other Abrahamic faith does. He isn't simultaneously a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost (who aren't eachother), and He isn't even the creator of all or entirely differnt from man. God is, to the church of LDS, a super-advanced soul, who came up with a plan to make us more like him if we're willing to have a body for a little while.

      However, every OTHER branch of Christianity being heretics is an essential part of their faith. They believe that Angels personally came to Joseph Smith to tell him that every other Christian is wrong, and he has the only true copy of The Bible written by a reincarnated Jesus himself.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  16. Ameri2010


    I have a relative who only watches CNN and wouldn't believe me when I told her that Obama was invoking religion to promote sinful behavior. Finally, after showing her this article from CNN, she now believes me. She used to think these things were rumors but now that CNN has reported it as fact, she has changed her mind about him.

    One more vote for Romney!!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  17. Big D

    I was raised a Christian. I believed without question for 30 years. One day I woke up. This is the kind of stuff that makes me hate Christianity! Your Jesus is a great person. You Christians however, make me puke.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Lisa

      Amen, Big D, amen. And yes, I realize the irony.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • jp

      You know nothing of Christianity.....Christ knows people are sinful and loves them just the same....how do you NOT understand that? how do you BECOME the judge of OTHER'S SINS?...is that not the task of Christ? and FORGIVNESS is his.....maybe you should practice a little forgiveness yourself...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Amen as well Big D. After 30 years of sitting in the Catholic church, I learned that the church had covered up for pedophiles. Jesus would strike this church down for what they did to children. I cannot support an organization that allows pedophiles to continue abusing children.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Big D

      JP, maybe I know nothing of Christianity. What I do know is I do not follow what your church teaches.As a prior "born again" I cant follow a group that thinks they have a monopoly of truth. Or a group that has killed more people than Hitler. Crusades, self sacrafice under Nero, Native American religous reform. Forgiveness is a copout for not taking responisablity. If I killed your mother and said I am sorry. Do you feel better when I kill your father? I doubt forgiveness is enough. Action is enough though. Dont cop out and say I am trying to be better. Faith without work is Dead. The list goes on. Religion is bad news..

      October 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  18. Leslie

    The person in this article calling President Obama the anti-Christ does not know his scripture. The anti-Christ is described as someone who sets themselves equal to God. Mormons believe they can ascend to a level eventually becoming gods themselves. Now who is the anti-Christ? Get it straight.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Libacryte

      The media has referred to o-blame-me as "god like"...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • fact check

      Mormons do not beleive they can become Gods. Your judgment and ignorance demonstrates who you are though.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • sam stone


      wow, how clever and cutting edge.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Leslie

      It not who sees someone else as god-like. It's who themselves believe they will be god. The media in its cynicism may have said that about Obama, but he has never said that or declared that through his religious doctrine. However, having been a Mormon Pastor, Mitt Romney has had to make the declaration that he can become a god.

      Mitt Romney is cunning and deceitful. His motives have nothing to do with the good of the country. His purpose is self fulfilling. He is trying to vindicate his father, to accomplish that which his father never could, to become President. That is why he writes down Dad before each debate. That is why he didn't run for re-election as governor because he had already conquered it once. That is why he continues to run for President. We as Americans must read between the lines.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Leslie

      The LDS scriptures declare that the ultimate goal of a Mormon is to become a god and procreate for all eternity.


      The Doctrine & Covenants states:

      19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, ...Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; ...and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, ...and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

      20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

      21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

      22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-22)

      October 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Leslie

      Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.97 – p.98:

      ALL EXALTED MEN BECOME GODS. To believe that Adam is a god should not be strange to any person who accepts the Bible. When Jesus was accused of blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God, he answered the Jews: "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"

      Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      also, lib.....provide a link to one news source referring to obama as being "god like"....come on, put up big mouth

      October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  19. Nat Nasci

    For a country that is suppose to have separation of church and state the U.S. is certainly obsessed with the faith of their politicians. Why does it matter? Actions are what counts. Look at Bush a so called Christian who lied and is responsible for human misery and death because of his lies.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  20. Jannae

    Mormon's are NOT Christians!! You will all be very sorry if this man gets in office!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ztom

      Mormons are indeed Christians. Don't all Christians believe that God is just one of many gods that live on planet Kolob?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Leslie

      Agreed. Mormons are not Christians. Christians believe in the diety of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Christians believe in the Trinity. That God is one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mormons elevate Joseph Smith and the book of mormon above the Bible and they declare they themselves can become gods. That's Blasphemy.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.