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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Christians have slaughtered and tortured other Christians for "heresy." That knowledge of history should give us all pause. Unless we don't really consider all human life sacred. The "religious right" needs to answer that question very clearly and very soon.
They have also backed wars where Christians kill Christians.
Is Mitt Romney a true Chrisitin CNN? CNN seems to be like FoxNews, with a couple of weeks left before the election. What a depraved story to conjure up, and pass off as news!
Many people think that journalism means “news” and nothing else. In fact, it also encompasses features, sports (a particular type of news, ’tis true), opinion (from both editors and readers), analysis, humor (including comics), and advertising. Done properly, it’s like a buffet with a little something for everyone.
If you're one of those people who think President Obama is a "disappointment," I have to strongly disagree.
We have TWO choices for president; it's not a smorgasbord. You can either work with Obama or you can sit back and watch Romney complete the job of taking apart the social fabric of the country that was first undertaken by Ronald Reagan and perfected by George W. Bush. That is your choice.
What makes the "disappointment" argument even more irritating is that it's simply not true. He's done nearly everything we elect a president to do, and he did it all with little support from the left, and massive obstruction from the right.
Is he perfect? No, he's human. Does he deserve some criticism? Of course.
But what matters is that the president has compiled a STELLAR record given the circ.u.mstances under which he took office. If you can look at this list of the president's accomplishments and not be excited, you have a serious problem with perspective.
1. Within his first week, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.
2. Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.
3. On his first full day, he froze White House salaries.
4. He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending.
5. He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems. To that end, he also signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.
6. Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
He Improved the Economy, Preventing a Bush Depression
7. Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package.” The bill passed, even though only three Republicans voted for it. In a major departure from the previous administration, he launched recovery.gov, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act.
8. The Bush-led Great Recession was costing the economy nearly 800,000 jobs per month by the time President Obama took office. But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy by 3.5%.
9. Not only did he complete the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money.
10. He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan.
11. Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years.
12. Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs. Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest, returning to its place as the top car company in the world. Willard Romney, on the other hand, advocated for the entire industry to go belly-up.
13. Doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency.
14. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system, and create a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown.
15. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices.
16. Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect.
17. Signed the Democratic-sponsored and passed Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures. The bill also provided $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and to stabilize the housing market.
18. Through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery.
19. Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses.
20. Created business.gov, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with SBA.gov.)
21. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.
22. Took steps to improve minority access to capital.
23. Signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to review all federal regulations and remove any unnecessary and/or burdensome regulations from the books.
24. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.
25. Dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby cutting ties between energy companies and the government.
26. Along with Congressional Democrats, provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.
27. Used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.
28. Crafted an Executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans
He Fostered Greater Transparency and Better Government, After the Excesses of the Bush Years
29. Signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.
30. Signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years, and put strict limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House.
31. Held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public.
32. Became the first to stream every White House event, live.
33. Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.
34. Provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history.
35. Issued an Executive Order on Presidential Records, which restored the 30-day time frame for former presidents to review records, and eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews. Provides the public with greater access to historic White House doc.u.ments, and severely curtails the ability to use executive privilege to shield them.
36. Improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent when processing FOIA requests.
Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection
37. Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.
38. Along with Congressional Democrats, pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.
39. Through Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
40. Through Dodd-Frank, the Executive Branch fashioned rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market.
41. Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers' interests.
42. Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation.
43. Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.
44. Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permit the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and tax evaders.
45. Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore.
46. Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.
47. Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill const.i.tuting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.
48. Through the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, extended the False Claims Act to combat fraud by companies and individuals using money from the TARP and Stimulus programs.
He Ushered Through Many Changes That Enhanced Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination
49. Along with Congressional Democrats, advocated for and signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a federal crime to assault anyone based on his or her s.e.xual orientation or gender ident.i.ty.
50. Pushed through, signed and demanded the Pentagon enact a repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that forced soldiers to lie in order to be eligible to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping
51. Extended benefits to same-s.e.x partners of federal employees.
52. Appointed more openly g.a.y officials than anyone in history.
53. Appointed first openly transgender Cabinet Official in History.
54. Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and s.e.xual orientation-based discrimination in housing.
55. Changed his mind and publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-s.e.x marriage.
56. Issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of g.a.y couples to make medical decisions for each other.
57. Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families.
58. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill.
59. Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act.
60. Under his guidance, National Labor Relations Board issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees' rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including websites and intranets, beginning November 2011.
61. Advocated that United Nations adopt a policy supporting g.a.y rights worldwide.
62. Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-s.e.x couples.
63. Appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.
64. Helped Democrats in Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act.
He Made Major Improvements in Foreign Relations and American Status Around the World
65. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.
66. As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration.
67. Helped to restore America's reputation around the world as a global leader that does the "right thing" in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.
68. Re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.
69. Closed a number of secret detention facilities.
70. Improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys.
71. Pushed for military to emphasize development of foreign language skills.
72. Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.
73. Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program, and thus avoid another war that Republicans wanted.
74. Worked with Democratic Congress to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009.
75. Established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
76. Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia.
77. Established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba, such as allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to support them.
78. Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow through.
79. Ordered a review of our detention and interrogation policy, and prohibited the use of torture, or what Bush called "enhanced interrogation." He ordered interrogators to limit their actions to the Army Field manual.
80. Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed.
81. Released the Bush torture memos.
82. On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention.
83. In response to the emerging "Arab Spring," he created a Rapid Response fund, to assist emerging democracies with foreign aid, debt relief, and technical assistance and investment packages in order to show that the United States stands with them.
84. Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program.
85. Ended the Iraq War.
86. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates.
He Took a More Realistic Approach to “Defense”
87. Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat.
88. Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010.
89. Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.
90. Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.
91. Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will last until at least 2021.
92. Through the Defense Authorization Act, reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.
93. Developed first comprehensive strategy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan designed to facilitate the defeat of al Qaeda and the withdrawal of most troops, as well as the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
94. Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country.
95. Negotiated a deal with Afghan government, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country.
96. Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.
97. Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.
98. Took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple a despotic government and determine their own fate.
His Administration Treated Soldiers and Veterans with Respect That Was Missing Previously
99. Along with Congressional Democrats, not only reauthorized families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover AFB, but also provided funding for it. Ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.
100. Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.
101. Provided active combat troops with better body armor.
102. Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order to improve the quality of their medical care.
103. Put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date.
104. Along with Congressional Democrats, supported and signed Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which made more money available to enable better medical care for veterans.
105. Along with Congressional Democrats, ushered through largest spending increase in 30 years for Department of Veterans Affairs, with money to go to improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities.
106. Created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.
107. Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.
108. Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.
109. Signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, which ensures that spouses of military personnel who are forced to move because their spouse is posted for military duty will be able to avoid state taxes in their temporary residence.
He Refocused the Federal Government on Education
110. Repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process.
111. Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.
112. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.
113. Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them.
114. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide
115. Oversaw major expansion in school construction.
116. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start.
117. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0
118. Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.
119. Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.
120. Took major new steps to protect students from ineffective for-profit colleges through "gainful employment" measures, whereby schools have to demonstrate that its students actually find work to get federal aid.
121. With First Lady Michelle Obama, passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve nutrition in schools and make children healthier.
He Pushed Through Improvements in National Safety and Security
122. Restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural disasters successfully.
123. Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast.
124. Has repeatedly beefed up border security.
125. Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
Reoriented Government to an Adult View on Science, Technology and Health Care
126. Created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making.
127. Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects.
128. Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.
129. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs.
130. Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis.
131. Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families, to cover more first-time mothers.
132. Obama EPA reversed research ethics standards which allowed humans to be used as "guinea pigs" in tests of the effects of chemicals, to comply with numerous codes of medical ethics.
133. Conducted a cyberspace policy review.
134. Provided financial support for private sector space programs.
135. Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.
136. Along with Democrats in Congress, ushered through and signed a bill authorizing FDA to regulate tobacco. As a result, the FDA has Ordered Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients and banned sale of cigarettes falsely labeled as “light.”
137. Through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs.
138. Increased funding for community-based prevention programs.
139. Over-saw a 50% de-crease in cost of pre-scription drugs for seniors.
140. Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price.
141. Two weeks after taking office, signed Democratic-sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.
142. Urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Democratic Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put increase on hold for two months.
143. Ushered through and signed Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to at least 30 million more people, ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental to those with coverage. He also established healthcare.gov, so that taxpayers could keep up with developments.
144. Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26.
145. Through the ACA, provided tax breaks to allow 3.5 million small businesses to provide health insurance to their employees, and 29 million people will receive tax breaks to help them afford health insurance.
146. Through the ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level.
147. Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.
148. Provisions in the ACA have already resulted in Medicare costs actually declining slightly this fiscal year, for the first time in many years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The increase in 2011 was 4%, which is very low compared to the average 12% annual inflation rate during previous 40 years.
149. Through the ACA, expanded space exploration and discovery options to more players
150. Through the Connect America Fund, pushed through and received FCC approval for a move of $8 billion in subsidies away from telephone landlines to assist lower-income rural families in accessing broadband.
He Took Steps to Strengthen the Middle Class and Families, and to Fight Poverty
151. Worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.
152. Cracked down on companies that were previously denying sick pay, vacation and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare tax payments through abuse of the employee classification of independent contractor.
153. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, cut taxes for 95% of America's working families.
154. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950.
155. Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years.
156. Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times.
157. Provided a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).
158. Signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
He Took Concrete Steps to Improve Our Environment and Address Our Energy Needs
159. Fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact fuel efficiency standards that exceeded federal standards.
160. Fast-tracked increased fuel economy standards for vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year. It was the first time such standards had been increased in a decade.
161. Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies.
162. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.
163. Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.
164. Ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021.
165. Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers.
166. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.
167. Obama EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant.
168. Oversaw doubling federal spending on clean energy research.
169. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.
170. Created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents.
171. Reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a “hoax.”
172. Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide
173. Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption.
174. Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.
175. Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.
176. Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles.
177. Oversaw and pushed through amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorizing advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
178. Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills.
179. Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
180. Through his EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.
181. Strengthened the Endangered Species Act.
182. Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year.
183. Through the EPA, attempted to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans.
184. Through new EPA regulations, he created a pretext for closing the dirtiest power plants in the country, by limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic gasses.
185. Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%
186. Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards.
187. Announced a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg in 2010 to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025
But That's Not All...
188. Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA.
189. Oversaw funding of the design of a new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, which is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015. He protected the funding during the recent budget negotiations.
190. Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
191. Nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Justice in the court’s history, and the women represent only the third and fourth women to serve on the court, out of a total of 112 justices.
192. Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.
193. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule.
194. Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.
195. Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program.
196. Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure.
197. Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects.
198. Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first responders.
199. Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls.
And Did You Know?
200. Despite the characterizations of some, Obama’s success rate in winning congressional votes on issues was an unprecedented 96.7% for his first year in office. Though he is often cited as superior to Obama, President Lyndon Johnson’s success rate in 1965 was only 93%.
Sorry not impressed. We are LIVING with the results of this failed presidency. That speaks louder than any cut and paste DNC talking points.
way too long
Thanks for posting Barack.....surprised you found the time in between campaigning and prepping for the debate.
I'm truly interested Greta, what is the failure you are living? Are you chronically unemployed?
I am 100% in agreement with you. President Obama has been an excellent president. His administration has achieved more than I ever expected.
Thanks for the post. Obama has done so many great things. It will take a little more time to get out of the last depression. Each recession recovery takes a few years and we will have to be more creative in competing in a globally-challenging environment this time too.
In spite of your tedious rhapsodizing. Obamas original chant of 'Yes we can' turned out to be 'Yes, we can't'. Why then would a second rate contender like Mitt Romney be giving him such a run for his money. Mind you having supporters like you doesn't help Obamas case either.
Mostly what any president would have done, so what? $400 million to Palestinian terrorist. Mostly everything stated was started by Bush, including surveillance of Osama. He is a Muslim like his no show father.
Native if you want to get technical Clinton started surveillance of bin Laden. Bush ignored the threat. I'll bet you never heard of bin Laden until 9/11.
@24 Hour Crisis Center
Excellent ! These are the things, that the republicans like to minimize or even discount.
your so stupid but thanks for playing
Personally I really don't care what religion he is. The bottom line is that he is an incompetent President and needs to go and do something else.
Read the post above yours... how can you still think Pres. Obama is so awful go Obama 2012
God will not bless us economically until America gets right with God, following after Godly principals, & voting for government leaders who don't oppress the poor, by leading with God's wisdom not mans. President Bush says he is a christian but yet he talks about one world government and helped bring the economic collapse. I really don't like either candidate running for office but at least Romney stands for Godly values more than Obama . and yes the church dropped the ball by not helping the poor enough so the government stepped in ...if the government stopped all the social programs for the poor would the christian charties be able to do it all.. help the orphans, widows , elderly , I doubt it.
I'm truly interested in what Godly values Romney supports more than Obama?
Adolph Hitler stood for "godly values." also. Hitler came into powers in the 1930s because he represented a moral movement that spoke against the promiscuity that had engulfed the German cities. All the members of the Nazi army had German crosses on their uniform. They saw themselves as the best examples among Christians. Just like the Mormons think they are the only 'true' Christians. Religious people (especially Christians) are so easily deceived.
While I can appreciate the idea, I somehow suspect that blessing us economically would be pretty low on the to-do list of any god worth worshiping.
you worship a shallow god
Obama is no christian or muslim, he is a "agnostic" which really means an atheist who tries to play along and humor the delusional religious minions.
And you are a racist. That means a Republican, who who tries to play along and humor the delusional religious minions.
I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but I'm sure someone mentioned our founding fathers. If you truly look into and research the founding fathers they were far from religion and didn't really care. The reason we had the Revolutionary War was to get away from religion. How about that for a zinger.
So, you are replying to a post you haven't read or even found? Folks, the ultimate straw man argument!
Any person who sits in a church for 20 years and listens to Rev. Wright spew his hatred has got to end up warped. Thats Obama for sure. Totally mentally warped. HAVE A BEER
I would say the same about any congregation that teaches children that if they don't submit to Christianity they will burn in the fires of Hades. Or any Pastor that tells the congregation how to vote. Or any Parish that had a pedophile as a leader. But you know, that is just me. It gets pretty relative doesn't it? Ever heard some of the crazy things Pat Robertson says? If you had to live through Jim Crow (and I am wildly guessing, you didn't right?) you might have some angry ideas about this country also, and by the way, nothing Wright said was WRONG was it? Yet, Wright still served in the Military. Romney peddled his bike around Paris and caused a car accident that killed a woman, then blamed a Priest (after claiming he killed a drunken Priest, which he didn't, and the Priest wasn't drunk. Romney can't get his story straight but what IS known is Romney's Dad got him out of deep doodoo in France). There is your choice. Rich, connections, get out of bad decisions and hard knocks and risks. Poor, get trashed by religious white folks.
I love the people that quote the same 52 passages that their Church recites to them every year and claim to have read and live by the bible. You're not living by the bible in fact no one in this country lives by the bible because there are thousands of different interpretations of the bible that all contradict each other. By going to Church you are following yet another interpretation by man of the bible. My suggestion do as few have done a pickup several bibles and read them analyze them and you will actually find what most agnostic, atheist, and skeptics have found and that is the bible is a collection of stories written by man, to try to control society to make women submissive, to allow slavery and to put fear and doubt in the minds of the masses. Grab some reference books as well when you read these bibles such as the encyclopedia of biblical errancy and truly enlighten yourself. The basics tenants of the bible are a good starting point for how humanity should live in harmony but there are many radical messages put in place to control the masses with fear of punishment instead of respect for your fellow human. When we focus on a single line or lines we loose the overall message that was written and that is to live in harmony with your fellow man.
Every single VERY Christian religious person I know never read the Bible. I am serious. Never picked it up, and read it, cover to cover.
Thank you. Well stated. There is little hope for the hipocritical mindless followers of these religions. They complain about the muslims but they are the same. It's all about control.
Why not invoke Jesus to support theft then? or murder?
one thing doesn't go with the other.
His actions speak for themselves. A persons fruit reveals much.
Calling for the Unity of the Saints Worldwide!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7468662.stm Obama carries a monkey god charm in his pocket. You decide.
And Romney carries graven images of George Washington. YOU decide.
Be careful of the religious right attempting to infiltrate government. We could easily become like the Middle East. Ruled by religious fanatics and religious terrorists. If there is going to be an anti-christ, he surely would come from the fanatic religious right. They are the only ones gullible enough to follow him.
CNN's unrelenting attacks on Obama and unprofessional cheerleading for his opponent reveal the organization for what it is: a political organization with no pretense of journalism. As such, it panders to the least discerning elements in the audience - witness many of the comments on this forum. I can understand disagreeing with Obama's leadership and supporting an unproven candidate - that's what the American system is about theoretically. But the demented Obama haters? Let's call them what they are: racists. There is no other explanation for such vitriolic hatred of a guy who is just trying to do his best with what George Bush and a gang of congressmen with their own interests at heart left him.
"By their fruits you shall know them"
Which is precisely why it can be said that the religious right are NOT Christians!
Au contraire, Pierre! Check out the history of Christianity — lying, bigotry, slavery, misogyny, genocide, intolerance, hatred of others — and you'll find that today's sReligious Right is very much in the Christian tradition.
"To some, Obama is the 'wrong' kind of Christian"
Yep, he is a real Christian.
"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." This is from page 261 of the "Audacity of Hope." This is our leader speaking. He has obviously acted on that too in last 4 years. Anybody is still confused why this craziness is happening???
Obama a Christian?? That is a good one. I needed a good laugh today.; Obama is a MUSLIM, plain and simple. His name alone screams MUSLIM and if that were not enough, his policies and his apologies have all went to MUSLIMS and helping them to take over the middle east against Israel. Instead of taking care of business here in the United States, he sends money to Muslim countries in order for them to build Mosques and does not lift one finger to help the Christian Churches that are being destroyed in the Middle East and does not even mention the countless number of Christians that are being killed over in the middle east. Please... People you need to see who this man is for real and soon I hope. God Bless you all.
you should take a hammer to your keyboard
You are really stupid, but thanks for trying.
You worship the God of Money, because no where else would you have received and wholly consumed that evil message you just posted. Your "God Bess You All" is nothing be pouring perfume on the pig, and insults God.
"God bless you ALL?? Don't you mean: "God bless those that believe like me"
A true man of God would not be as blind as you are. Stop listening to your lying preacher(s). Where are the photos of Obama praying as Muslims do? You realize that Obama has ordered the killing of more Muslims than any other sitting President right?
His name "screams Muslim", eh? To quote Edith Bunker, "I didn't know Lincoln was Jewish!"
You are so ignorant. You should be embarrassed.
So you'd rather have a racist mormon in office? You're a complete idiot and Karma will prevail.
"His name alone screams MUSLIM"
so a person's religion is determined by his name now? wow.
"his policies and his apologies have all went to MUSLIMS and helping them to take over the middle east against Israel."
what are you on about? all the arab spring countries were muslim countries that are still now controlled by muslims, nothing has changed there.
"he sends money to Muslim countries in order for them to build Mosques and does not lift one finger to help the Christian Churches that are being destroyed in the Middle East "
wrong. the organization that sends money to help maintain cultural buildings sends money to rebuild.maintain churches as well as mosques and other buildings.
bearing false witness is breaking a commandment and you will be condemned for doing it
Nothing more hilarious than a Christian claiming, "They/he/she isn't a real Christian". Seems like they are all doing that these days.
Odd this would be posted so close to the election. Even more odd that the question of Mormonism being the wrong kind of "christian" is not mentioned in this article. Odd that Billy Graham would take off his comments about Mormonism off his site after a visit from Romney.
There were no churches in Genesis.
For 2000 years true Christianity has persevered against the deceits and powers of the world. The 'progressive' Christianity which you suggest Obama espouses is actually relativism. Relativism is the contemporary form of 'deceits and powers of the world'. As such, Obama is not part of that 2000 year long history. This is manifest in his acts. ie. Attempting to block the ban against partial birth abortion. For anyone who does not know partial birth abortion implies the crushing of a babies skull with forceps if the child has already been ear marked for abortion. They can do this with any child at any stage even after birth. Ask yourself could anyone following the Man from Galilee try to prevent such an atrocity?
You are not an intelligent person, but thanks for playing.
how much misinformation can you fit in one post?
There is no absolute truth. Everything, including any notion of God is relative. Christ's message in the Gospel was one of Christian relativism. Absolutism strangles and kills, relativism allows growth and freedom. Literal, absolute interpretation of the Christian Bible, or any other religious text, is an impediment to our success as a nation and a world. Our nation was not founded on Christianity, it was founded on liberal relativism and that is why we are a great nation.
There can be only one truth. Truth = Yes.
Yes can only be on or off.
Yes OR No
Yes cannot = No
No cannot = Yes
Is that suppose to be some kind of response or do they just let you out on weekends?
You would profit from an introduction to quantum mechanics.