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).

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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. RichardSRussell

    Who is a "true Christian"? The only guy who's really qualified to say is Jesus, so if you're not him, STFU.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Jesus

      And I say that there is no such thing as a True Christian® for all my so called followers have their own agendas. Keep me out of your politics for there's nothing more that pisses me off than that.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Fact

      There are true Christians. Those who are what Jesus called "born-again" which means born of the Spirit. He know when someone is ready and willing to surrender their life to Him and follow Him. He does not demand it. Those who receive Him receive His Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. He siad we should help the poor. He never told the government to do it by redistribution of wealth. If the wealthy don't want to help out, they will answer to Him. Romney has helped people with his own time and money.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      @Fact How convenient for you.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  2. really?

    Nice puff piece, way to pull a onw-line gloss-over of the abortion issue. Wwjd? 3 plus million abortions in the us last year alone, and I don't know any Christian, Jewish or Muslim church that countenances abortion unless the health of the mother is in significant jeopardy. Biden is the same sort of hypocrite, and he even holds himself out as Catholic.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • crbianb

      Actually, Islam supports abortion. It allows the husband to force his wife to have an abortion if he suspects the baby isn't his.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  3. jp

    If you really believe African Americans can lead this country...please visit an African majority country....

    October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      ALL Americans are African Americans. You just have to go far enuf back in their family trees.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  4. Mike

    I do not think there is a right kind of any religion.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  5. johnnie2

    Romney is the kind of Christian that I aspire to be. Giving freely of his time and talent to others in need and doing so quietly. Consider this:

    Of the two candidates which has consistently given a greater percentage of his income to charity?
    Of the two candidates which has been revealed to have given personal acts of help to those in need?
    Of the two candidates which is the one that served a mission for his church – without pay?
    Of the two candidates which is the one that also served as a pastor for his congregation for more than 10 years at his own expense?
    Of the two candidates which one served in public leadership roles – refusing to be paid a salary?

    The record of Romney's personal behaviors is a strong witness for me of the caliber of the man seeking office.

    As an independent, I fell for the flowery words of Obama and voted for him. Lesson learned. I won't be doing that again. Obama has been revealed by his behaviors and his dismal record in office.

    Romney is the better choice this November!

    October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      The Mormon Church is not a "charity" in the same sense as, say, the Red Cross. Its primary activity is self-promotion, not helping the p∞r, sick, weak, helpless, and downtrodden. Such activities were a major part of how Obama spent his TIME when he chose to be a community organizer instead of using his Harvard Law degree to become a corporate lawyer.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Oh Ye Of Little Faith

      Johnnie2 -> Most excellent post! If only Everyone would be able to see it & open their hearts and minds to it!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Fact

      @RichardSRussell – Did you know him personally? I know he was an organizer but never heard about acts of charity. I heard he did drugs and gravitated toward Marxists. Those are some facts. He also voted on a bill that would allow for infanticide. That's not at all charitable toward babies.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Doodlebug2222

      Honestly? I give things and time to others – making no record to present to others to prove how worthy I am.

      If I do things for people > and sound this out to others – hearlding all that I do > is that sincerely for the ones I assisted or is it for.. me?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • crbianb

      Richard, churches are just as much of a charity as the red cross. They do help people in many many ways. When there is a natural disaster, they are often one of the places people go hor shelter. They provide clothing for those that need it.They provide food for the homeless and those who have come upon hard times. They provide housing or shelter for families who have come upon hard times and need shelter. The house I own used to be a church charish. If you don't believe this, then you need to attend some church. Yes, they do use some of the money for self promotion, but so does the red cross, I've seen their ads on TV.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  6. Doodlebug2222

    This > "The emphasis on community uplift – not individual attainment – may strike some Americans as socialist"..

    When I was in military, I had sprained my ankle and been set back. In order to prove we were fit for military service we had to run a specific amount of distance. I was stubborn, I knew I could do this even with my ankle not healed and every step a tremendous amount of pain. I did not mention to my leaders I was still hurting else I was afraid they would feel I was not fit.

    So I struggled with the pain everytime I set my right foot down – but I did it. However the elation I felt was short lived when there was others still running and struggling. These women were not runners, but they were good women that I would be proud to serve beside. I made a choice, ran to them – and basically said "Let's do this" and I set a new pace, running beside them – pain every step – but cheering them on as I smile. One lady was older and I went and ran beside her, cheering her on and too her hand as she huffed and sweated – and told her, we were going to do this – together.

    And .... we did. It's after all, not about us. Not how well WE do alone but how the strong bends and how the weak reaches... both of us meeting in the middle and walking forward and on – together.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • johnnie2

      I love this story. Thanks for sharing.
      It is a witness to me of the power of the individual to recognize the needs in others and to quietly seek out being a help and support to them.

      Not a government mandated program – but individual's exercising Christ-like behaviors and lives of virtue.
      That is the American way!

      October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  7. AmericanJack

    We have to get away from say Christian beliefs for our government officials. They should all have moral beliefs (which may be routed in Christian, Jewish or other religions). No one says you have to be a Christian to run for office or be a Christian to go to school or be a Christian to b a police officer. If you a a Christian it is up to you, and you alone, to teach your family these values. Not the government not they guy next door but up to you as a family. Go to church, correct you children if they act up, teach them abortion is not what YOU believe but others have the right to. In Iran the force extreme Muslim views on people is this what you want, religious views be forced on people. No, you want people to come to God, you want God to fill their hearts with love and understanding. If you are pressing your beliefs on others then really I see no difference to the Taliban, you're just not wearing a vest filled with metal and explosives. Keep morality in politics and keep religion out, if you want to mention God on money or in a pledge to the flag fine. We don't say it is a Jewish or Christian god we just say God so others can insert their god using good values. I totally believe in God but would never want to press my views on other, I teach my family by example, use God a base for daily life and fail because I will never ever be more than just human......which God understands and that love of our Creator is always there for me.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  8. faithfulliberal

    Actually, Obama is the right kind of Christian. In fact he comes closer to embodying the principles of Jesus than the far right "Christians" who wage war on the poor, on the minorities (i.e,, non-whites), on science, on the environment (or, creation itself, if you will), on women, on the sick, and on criminals (i.e., other sinners).

    I can think of no more progressive and liberal person in history than Jesus Christ. None of us can live up to His standards of compassion and love, but the so-called "religious right" rejects those standards altogether as somehow evil in themselves. Their personal greed and unwillingness to help those in need shows their true heart, and it's nothing like the heart of Jesus.

    To paraphrase a comment that Bill Clinton recently made, it takes "a lot of brass" for the "religious right" to call themselves Christians at all when they reject the basic principles that Jesus urged us to follow. To those take offense with me on this, I offer up Matthew 25:34-46. Go learn what He commanded of us in the world.

    No, Obama is just the right kind of Christian. His concern isn't for the rich and powerful, but for the regular folks who struggle in the world. I find it hard to consider the religious right even Christian since they reject what Jesus taught us. In the spirit of the Pharisees, they certainly are religious, but they've turned their back on the poor, the hungry, the sick, those in prison – the very people Jesus was so concerned about.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • AmericanJack

      Here here!

      October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Greta

      Obama and Jesus are not even close because of Obama's callous view of abortion. Jesus said nothing about protecting the earth, but everything about protecting the innocent. Obama is Satan's friend in this area. He kills and destroys. Abortion is a huge lie because it is murder and it hurts the mother as much as the child.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • johnnie2

      This is certainly an interesting perspective.
      However one might also consider this:

      Of the two candidates which has consistently given a greater percentage of his income to charity?
      Of the two candidates which has been revealed to have given personal acts of help to those in need?
      Of the two candidates which is the one that served a mission for his church – without pay?
      Of the two candidates which is the one that also served as a pastor for his congregation for more than 10 years at his own expense?
      Of the two candidates which one served in public leadership roles – refusing to be paid a salary?

      The record of Romney's personal behaviors is a strong witness for me of the caliber of the man seeking office.

      As an independent, I fell for the flowery words of Obama and voted for him. Lesson learned. I won't be doing that again. Obama has been revealed by his behaviors and his dismal record in office.

      Romney is the better choice this November!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Fact

      Christ, indeed, taught unto help the poor and most Christians are aware of that. He did NOT tell the government to redistribute tax-payer money, though. Are you aware of the many Christian relief organizations out there? Below is just a partial list. Perhaps YOU would like to make a contribution from your own pocket to one of the following:
      Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
      Bright Hope International
      Campus Crusade for Christ
      Childcare Worldwide
      Children of Promise
      Children of the Nations
      Christ For The Nations
      World Vision
      Samaritan's Purse....

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  9. Meki60

    Obama is a muslim

    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Meki60 is delusional and WRONG!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • jb

      and you believe the earth is flat. Nice try.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • AmericanJack

      OK lets run with your thoughts. The President has had drones kill top Taliban Muslims, he wages war on those that shoot children and behead women for learning which are Muslim. So his big picture is to what take over and replace the top Taliban leaders and then wage war on us. Or sneak in the Muslim laws through Congress and the press. You must be bored or nuts....I'll go with hate in your heart. Talk to your closest religious leader and seek help.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Fact

      More like a mixture but anyone who woukd vote for infanticide is clearly not someone I woukd want as president.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  10. NoTags

    As a Christian I was always taught the main tenet of Christianity was Salvation and how it is attained.

    As Christians we are all sinners. The Apostle Paul in his espistle to the Church at Ephesus summed up the path to salvation about as simply as it can be explained, i.e. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

    I believe if a person truly believes what Paul stated in the above 2 passages, they have been 'washed clean' of sin by the blood of the lamb and their salvation is assured. I can't judge whether another person is a Christian or not, since I don't know what they believe in their hearts.

    I do believe if a person accepts another Gospel other than what was taught by Jesus and his Apostles such as the 'new age religion' widely taught and accepted today, they cannot be Christians. The Apostle Paul made this very clear in his epistle to the Church at Galatia, i.e. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8 (KJV)

    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      I was taught the same thing, but I came to see it as a selfish cop out. Focusing on this one element of the scripture – one's own salvation – makes a mockery of Christ's teaching. It is an easy out. All one has to do is believe. This is Pharisee thinking, as if a magical incantation ("I believe, I believe") excuses one from being a vibrant, and living part of the body of Christ with responsibilities that come with being a part of that body.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    Obama, the promoter of modern slavery, criticises Old Testament slavery – ridiculous!

    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?"

    At first, what about Old Testament slavery? Good or bad?

    Actually God (the God of Israel) had commanded Israel to exterminate some nations (they lived on the territory of today Palestine) because these nations committed unimaginable sins: intercourse in all directions: man with man, woman with woman, father with daughter, mother with son, father and mother with animals, etc.. Furthermore they sacrificed infants to their idols (Moloch and the like). Sometimes it happened that Israel did not kill all war prisoners according to God's command but took them as slaves which was tolerated by God. In that context the slavery was a grace for the concerned people because at least they kept their life. We can imply that the concerned nations had been admonished many times before God started to judge them using Israel as his tool of wrath. These nations were stubborn sinners which had deserved no more grace but only judgement.

    By the way, our modern societies more and more resemble slave markets. Who is responsible for that? Mr. Obama.

    Why does God allow that we more and more become economical slaves (human robots)? Because we don't seek His countenance which is actually the meaning of life. Dear reader, a better life in Jesus waits for you. Get it right now, and start to believe in the one who died and resurrected for you in order to set you free, and be your righteousness.


    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Zzzzzzzzzz. Wake me up when Rainer gets lost.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      Wow, what rant. Some hearts are so dark, there is no room in them for the light. I don't want any part of your "G*d."

      October 21, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  12. AuntieMEK

    No matter what you think Obama faith is, At least President Obama has moral and ethical values in his private, personal, public and political life.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  13. Allen

    I would respect Obama more if he is honest about his faith, if its agnostic then let him say, if it is Muslim then let him say. What I do not respect, is him calling himself Christian just to get elected.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      He is not calling himself christian just to get re-elected. He is calling himself christian because that is truly what he is. Your comment as with any of the others saying he is not a true christian is the No Trues Scotsman Fallacy.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • maestra730

      You are 100% correct. Well said.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  14. Allen

    He's not Christian. He goes to church like twice a year only to please the press. I would respect Obama more if he is honest about his faith, if its agnostic then let him say, if it is Muslim then let him say. What I do not respect, is him calling himself Christian just to get elected.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Only twice a year, you say? That puts him 2 up on Ronald Reagan. What did you think of HIM?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • jb

      Allen, I have not been to a church service in 20 years. That does not negate the fact I am Christian, just that I don't like hearing hate preached.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  15. Rolph

    I can't decide what's worst.
    This poorly constructed pointless article or the obvious hate filled responses it has drawn.
    I have never seen this country so divided.
    You can thank religion. Specifically the Christian religion and Islamic religion who have been at war with the world for 2000 years. Do we need another jihad or another crusade? Don't think so, but that seems to be where it's headed. Better wake up before its too late!!!

    October 21, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • crbianb

      You cannot incite religion as the only dividing factor. The media has done more to divide this country than any reiligion. The president also gets his share of recognition in the divisive factor too. He has repeated class warfare over and over, and pulled the race card too many times.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Rick

      No...you can squarely place the blame on Obama. It was not religion that made this man attempt to look "Christian" just to garner votes. Obama has lied since he has been in office numerous times. Most Americans are too blind or stupid to see this.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. Barry's last 17 days

    i mean CNN is utterly shameless. if this isn't sensationalism at its finest, i don't know what is. granted it's meatier than a story about lindsey lohan, but it's totally blind to its bias and trying to just stoke a fire it seems to me.

    obama is the same "christian" who sat in someone's church who said "god damn america." but that was an inconvenient truth for his backers – i mean, the media – to discuss.

    the ultimate irony is that liberals are the "extremists." if you disagree with them – based on thousands of years of principle – you MUST be someone treats people badly instead of just treating them neutrally and letting them go about their way. sure there are nutjobs in the midwest who preach fire and brimstone and eternal damnation but many christians lwho do not support "gay marriage" do not go out bashing people's heads in – BELIEVE IT OR NOT, LIBS!

    October 21, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      Seems to me you still seek to squash the civil and human rights of people not like you and justify it via religion. Nothing new here, folks. Move along.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  17. williplantsman

    Obama's critics in the church have aligned them selves with the Pharisees. Look who Jesus ministered to, associated with, had grace for. Too much of the church today has been sheepishly following leaders who are more interested in political conservatism than effective ministry. I have no doubt who Jesus would vote for, if he was even that interested in the politics of today.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • MIchele

      The "RIght" are don't do as I do, do as I say Xtians,

      October 21, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  18. Speaking the Truth

    Shouldn't all these right wing fanaticals be in church right now? Instead of spewing their dogma on here?

    October 21, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • jb

      Agreed, Westboro Baptist should be having services or snake charming about now.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  19. Rob

    Completely true statement: “No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible". Completely untrue statement: Christianity "denies science, rational thought"

    October 21, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • crbianb

      Did you know that the Big Bang theory was thought of by Georges Lemaître, a Catholic Priest? When a Catholic priest comes up with something that puts the foundation of their belief in question, it's kind of hard to say that.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  20. Jack

    I am 65 years old, a conservative, a born again christian and belonged to the religious right movement. And one an older member in a church challenged me about rigidity of the of my belief's. After a few years of asking a number of questions that were uncomfortable to the religious right community, I left before being thrown out.

    The religious right has become a very mean, angry group that is destructive and can more un-christian than any other group in society.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • MIchele


      October 21, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • williplantsman

      I'm with you Jack. The church I joined in my 20's has disappeared. It has morphed into a country club.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Jon

      Well said. I believe in "biblical values" and am a conservative (theoogically) Christian. I am voting for President Obama just as I voted for candidate Obama in 2008, because I believe he better embodies biblical values than his opponent. No, I don't agree with him on some things. But the sheer, utter hate churning among those of the Christian Right is so painful to me. I consider them in some ways part of my spiritual family... yet at least a quarter of them according to various polls think our President is a Muslim. And of course to explore just why that is requires a journey into black history... and into the hsitory of fundamentalism / Evangelicalism in this country. Again, I theologically match up fairly wel with Evangelicals - spiritual rebirth, high view of Scripture... so on and so on. But I am not in the least compelled by their hate-fest... quite the contrary. Obama 2012.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 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.