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. Greta

    I hear he carries a monkey god in his pocket. Doesn't sound like he's walking closely to Jesus.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I hear that Romney has magic underpants. Sounds like you won't be voting this time around, huh? Have you looked into Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate? Oh, wait, he carries a copy of _Atlas Shrugged_ everywhere he goes. Shoot. Looks like yer outta luck, Greta.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I hear the orderlies are on their way to your room with that thorazine drip.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • midwest rail

      And of course you have a reliable source for that intentionally false statement ?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Greta

      How about the BBC? What a bunch of name callers. People can't handle anything that might shine negatively on dear leader. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7468662.stm

      October 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, "shining light" is surely what you're doing, Greta. "I hear...." You're an idiot.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Greta

      Liberals are the worst name callers. If someone says something you don't like, you either try to shout them down, shut them up or throw insults at them. Reminds me of this presidency.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • What IF

      "I hear he carries a monkey god in his pocket. Doesn't sound like he's walking closely to Jesus."

      You think that ^^^ is not an insult?!

      October 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  2. Ameri2010

    To Faithfulliberal: You're making up your own liberal Jesus who doesn't exist. This is what Jesus had to say about freeloaders:

    Our orders—BACKED BY THE MASTER, JESUS—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.

    Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.

    If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice.

    (2 Thessalonians)

    Furthermore, the Bible NEVER EVER EVER promotes the government taking care of the poor. We are not supposed to be taxed to take care of others. Help for the poor is supposed to come from within the church and local community.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • xx4zu1

      And I can quote 1000 passages of the bible that I am sure you don't follow.

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

      Thank you for speaking the truth about this. It is amazing to me that people who have no interest in reading the bible which is not on lhe word of God, but God John 1:1 try and paint a picture os a made up Jesus in their mind. It is when we know the TRUTH that the truth will set us free.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Bible is not the law of the land and this country is not a theocracy. No one has to live by your beliefs.

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

      It should have read: "not ONLY the word of God, but God. John 1:1

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

      What do you think Jesus meant to tell us with the Parable of the Prodigal Son?

      October 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Anna

      Furthermore, I don't see that Second Thessalionians is at all relevant here. What Bible do you read?
      And even if it were, those are the words of St. Paul, not of Jesus.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  3. Philojazz

    Mr Cass has hit the nail on the head with his remark, that "...a progressive Christian is a contradiction". He's absolutely correct, that there has been no progress in Christianity (nor any religion), and that there will not be. It is stuck in the thought processes, belief system, moral and scientific understanding of a bronze-age nomadic people. Not good enough. Mr Cass is so delusional, I hardly know what else to add to this posting, except to beg people to stop voting for "conservative", especially "Christian conservatives". I don't know about this "anti-Christ" malarkey, but they certainly sound anti-American.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  4. Grumpster

    Elect Mittwit and what do you get? A guy who thinks that women are subservient and a guy who thinks that heaven is a place where he has his own planet on which he is king and his wife will join him with the sole job to pump out babies to repopulate that planet. And yet you complain on Obama...woah.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  5. Ari3s

    You know? I bet if we created a small island and took all these mainline Christians that believe there is but one reading of the Bible and put them on it to be left alone for a few decades, we would end up with Islam v2.0 with their own version of Sharia Law and a Holy War declared on the U.S. too.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • xx4zu1

      Your d@m n right we would.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  6. Guest

    "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.”

    INCREDIBLE!!! The religious right are some of the few people standing up for the right to be charitable, not for the government to force you to give.

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

    Thank you for pointing out a more reasonable history for Obama's philosophy.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Mark T.

      Obama – christian? LOL yea right. His most formative years were spent in a madrassa. He's about as christian as Jeremiah Wright.

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

      at least he is Christian. Mitt is a Morman. They do not follow the Bible, and thier God is and alien sent from another universe. Christian people need to think about this when they go to the poll to vote.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  8. susan

    Another low punch brought to you, by no other than a network owned by a conservative billionaire. CNN is a major manipulator in this election season. What happens CNN, your cronies too stupid to think for themselves? That would be a yes on my part.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  9. Chiniquy

    What exactly is the right type of Christianity? That is what has divided Christians for centuries. "If you don't follow the religion as I do, then you are going to hell." Any Christians who thinks that way are already in hell.

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

      I absolutely agree with you! I, too, am considered the 'wrong' kind of Christian and find that designation insulting. Living my life "Christ-like" is more important than the ideology others subscribe to. Thanks for posting.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Wes Scott

      Modern day Christianity is about as far from what Jesus taught as it can possibly be. It is a fraud that perpetuates and defends the ho mo se xual pedophelia of Catholic priests while judging others on the depth of their "Christianity." Jesus said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged", but modern day Christians neither know nor care what Jesus taught. The very fact that somebody who claims to be a Christian can claim that somebody else is not a "real" Christian is about as un-Christlike as anything a person could possibly do. And, God said that we ARE our brother's keeper, and that we should sell all that we own and give to the poor, and that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, yet all that is lost on modern day Christians because they don't really care what God or Jesus taught. They merely want to claim "Christianity" as their far right wing fascist political philosophy and feel good while doing it.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  10. xx4zu1

    Obama is the only type of Christian that this world can tolerate. One that realizes that religion is a personal preference and should not be forced upon the citizens of any nation. Just like the founding father intended.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  11. Basil30102

    I am really interested in this term the liberals continue to label – progressive. Does this mean that everyone that has different views are backwards, set in their old ways? A progressive Christian? A Christian is someone that follows the Bible, and yes the Bible is historical. Those do not want to follow the Bible and create new rules will need to create a new religion to follow and write a new book. This "progressive" term is nothing more than trying to undermine those that have a different view.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Parsley0204

      Progressive means ahead of one's time; people who are progressive seem to be innovators, and why can't there be innovation in religion?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • lcs

      A christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus. It does not follow that they must take the rest of the Bible literally.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Merle McClung

      That's odd. I thought a Christian was someone who believed in God. Some of you keep narrowing and narrowing that definition. Why? Why do you feel the need to exclude others?

      This whole article is just fodder for those who make religious claims against the President, when what they really hate is that he is black. Get over it.

      Progressive means looking ahead, that's all. There are too many who won't change when change is exactly what is needed, when change would take us closer to the people God wants us to be in the first place - tolerant, humble, empathetic.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Wes Scott

      I agree that a Christian is one who follows the Bible even though it is merely a book contrived by the Holy Roman Church, which also founded Christianity by usurping Jesus from the Jews and remaking him in its own image. However, even according to your definition, it just means that about 99.999% of all today who profess to being Christians really are not Christian at all because they hardly follow the Bible. They don't even know or care what it says!

      And, for those who actually believe that the Founding Fathers were Christians who forged a "Christian nation" you really need to do an impartial, unbiased study of American history. The Founding Fathers were almost all Rosacrucianists (members of the secret societ Rose Croix), and they specifically stated that there should be a separation of church and state recognizing what Jesus said – "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." In other words, religion is a personal matter while government is a public matter. We need for Congress to pass a law that specifically forbids the very mention of God or religion in any matter of government under penalty of law. It is one thing to motivate oneself according to a personal conviction, but it is quote another altogether to force that belief on somebody else. NOBODY has the right to tell another person how or what to believe.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • KJC

      The problem here is looking at the bible as simply a list of rules to either be accepted or not. On the contrary, the bible is primarily an overarching story of God's redemptive plan for humanity. Reading the bible literally does not mean taking every single word and applying it to every single situation; rather, it means to read each book as the author originally intended. For example, some books of the bible are entirely poetry – to apply each line as if it was an authoratative command is just intellectually dishonest – that's not how adults read. Other books, on the other hand, are clearly not meant to be metaphor. Many are letters written to a specific church to address a specific issue that was arising in that church at the time. To read that book literally is to read it as a letter to that church, asking what that church was dealing with and what message the letter writer was literally intending for that church. Then you can ask how does that apply to the chuch as whole.

      One thing I would like to say, however, is that most Christians worldwide do not have the resources (or even legal right) for every individual to own a copy of the Word, and they can still be Christians. Some are not literate. However, most of those same people would sacrifice a lot to be able to own and read a bible, so those that have one should taken advantage of it. Read it for yourself as if you have never heard of it before, and see what God says to you. He may surprise you on some things.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  12. allenwoll

    Organized Religion is an intrinsic, corrosive & dehumanizing human-specific poison (MY God's better'n YOUR God !) ! ! . Broth-er ! . Best that you check for Satan's (if there be such) imprimature on THAT stuff ! ! !

    The particular choice of words found on the label is largely irrelevant : POISON is POISON ! !

    The fact (in my opinion), is that "God": is about 99% incompetent ! - What OTHER sort would POSSIBLY set the higher animals to killing and EATING one another ? : YUCK ! ! ! - Do NOT even bother at all to retail the NatSel BS to me on this score - There are thousands of BETTER ways to implement THAT, to the EXTENT that it NEEDS to be implemented ! ! ! . Indoctrinated much ? ? ? . Joe Goebbels would be proud of you-all ! ! !
    . .

    October 21, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • joe

      actually organized religion is what brought us out of barbarianism. When did civilization begin? ANser is with organized religion.

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

      If "god" was incompetent as you say, then neither you nor this creation would exist. Look at yourself. Look around at this Marvelous and Perfect Creation. Give thanks and praises to the All-Mighty G-D.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Wes Scott

      I agree, allenwoll! I have long wondered how such an "omnipotent" and "omniscient" guy like God could create natural disasters that wipe out his own churches and kill or destroy the lives of his most faithful followers unless he is a purely demonic, sadistic s.o.b. I also wonder how a guy with all those supreme "powers" could create a world so full of faults, diseases and problems. It makes no sense to a sane, rational person. Only those inbreeds who take things on faith can find a way to rationalize how that guy is a God of love. To me, he seems more full of hate than anything else I could ever imagine.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • KJC

      The argument that those who take things on faith are stupid is not a rational argument. We can neither 100% prove nor 100% disprove the existence of God. There is no fool-proof way to logic either one. Therefore, every person is taking many of their beliefs on faith. It is rather a matter of what the preponderance of evidence (what you see, what you observe, your own experiences, etc.) leads you to believe.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  13. jvance

    Religion is a high-wire act for thoughtful political leaders.
    The "morality" of a nation is not exactly the same as the morality of an individual. Individuals can be pure but governments must be responsible and this can lead to difficult decisions for statesmen/women.

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

      Well said.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  14. dickm2

    Give me a break! His church of many years was anti white. His administration attacks the churches with their edicts on abortion and contraceptives.. If he is not the anti Christ he's making all those moves indicating he is. Watch his feet not his mouth. He's a liar and hasn't fixed a darn thing but made it worse. He is the most vindictive President this country has ever had and has polorized this nation with shoving his laws down our throat. This country is in bad shape. He will not take responsibility for his mistakes or actions. He is no leader. He has demoralized and financially broken this nation and us. My children and granchildren will suffer because of his administration.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Stan the Man

      Shouldn't you be at church now learning more intolerance?

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

      Presidents don't make laws, dick.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Wes Scott

      dickmouth2, the President does not and has not made any laws and shoved them down your throat. Perhaps you should have studied civics. ALL laws of the federal government are introduced in either the US House of Representatives or the US Senate, and long before they are even sent to the President to sign and implement they must first be passed by BOTH Houses of Congress. The US House of Representatives is tightly controlled by your conservative, fascist, RepubliKKKan friends, so if laws are being passed and shoved down your throat, then you need to take that matter up with your buddies on the right side of the aisle. Everything else you said about Obama is patently false, but that does not stop you from saying it. Based upon your own words I deduce that you must be a "real" Christian!

      October 21, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  15. Kingaire

    Obama a "religious" pioneer??. CNN you are so in the tank for this progressive idiot. He does not believe in our God, only the Islamic God. Wake up people he is a evil dictator pure and simple.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • midwest rail

      Another delusional fundiot. The entertainment value is priceless.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Stan the Man

      Start doubling your meds.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • brittney

      your ignorant...opps i assume u don't know what that means.......you have no knowledge or awareness and/or your uneducated...

      October 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Wes Scott

      And just thing, you are about to have another four years to hate him! I am supremely glad that YOUR god is not MY god because YOUR god is one full of hate and bigotry.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  16. Elliot Carlin

    he's no Christian. By their fruits you shall know them.

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

      Which is precisely why it can be said that the religious right are NOT Christians!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  17. David

    Since Christianity (and all other religions) are so obviously wrong, being the wrong kind of Christian is clearly a step in the right direction.

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

      EXACTLY : Being "WRONG" on THIS is indeed RIGHT ! ! !

      Just LISTEN to these miserable "White Christian" scaly ROACHES scurrying about in the religio-intellectual rubbish-bin.

      The sound is intensely annoying - but the SMELL is outright DISGUSTING in the EXTREME ! ! ! . ROT & DECAY ! ! !

      Where ARE you, America, WHERE ? ? ? . THIS is what our men fought for some 65 years ago ? ? ?

      Has it indeed come to THIS ? ?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  18. albert

    The so call "religious right" are all anti-Christ. They follow pagan traditions (Christmas, Easter, etc.), and also incorporate Greek mythology into their teachings (eternal torment, Idol worship, etc.). They are no different than the religious leaders from Jesus' day that had him killed. Jesus said to pray for his Fathers kingdom, not the United States as the hope for mankind. The religious right are hypocrites and are far removed from anything the Bible teaches. They too have killed Jesus in the sense that, because of their hypocrisy, many have turned away from religion.

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

      As an evangelical Christian myself, I have to agree that a lot of the religion I see on the political stage and even in person today looks like Phariseeism (religious hypocrisy). I do believe the bible is inerant and hold more conservative social views for myself, but I also see that a lot of Jesus teachings are about the poor and not about self-righteous judgement. Ultimately, we are saved by GRACE and need a personal relationship with God. This is the biblical story I think of most when I think of the religious tone in our country today:

      To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. ~Luke 18:9-14

      October 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Barbie

    I appreciate the fact that Obama actually chose his religion. Everyone's spiritual path should be uniquely theirs. Those that inherit their religions by either geography or by enforcement by their parents really didn't make the choice themselves did they? And how can one truly make an educated choice without having some exposure to other religions? To do anything else is to be ignorant. I think there are many bandwagon Christians in the US but Obama actually made this choice himself. I'm agnostic and just as our founding fathers, I don't like religion in my politics but I commend Obama for making his religious choice for himself. It makes it all the more meaningful (and believable) in my opinion.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  20. JOE

    Whatever religion Obama is, he's a one term President. Thank God.

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

      Amen brother!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • In Reason I Trust

      Because why should America spend money on actual Americans when there are Muslim countrys to invade!

      I sometimes wish you idiots did get your wish and have to suffer through another recession Romney would put us in.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • God

      I'm for Obama.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Wes Scott

      And on November 7, you will awaken to realize that Obama is about to a two-term President because America is not about to elect a Morman Fascist RepubliKKKan as our leader. We still remember what happened to our country the last time the RepubliKKKans had control of the White House and Congress. That fiasco nearly sunk our country and launched WW III.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:45 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.