The Gospel according to Obama
President Obama is not just a racial trailblazer, but some say a religious pioneer as well. No president has ever shared his type of Christianity, historians say. Some say he may revive a form of Christianity that once dominated America.
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET

The Gospel according to Obama

By John Blake, CNN

President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.

When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”

The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:

“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”

Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.

When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life so much that it gave the nation its first megachurches, historians say.

“Barack Obama has referred to his faith more times than most presidents ever have, but for many it’s the wrong kind of faith,” says Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, an evangelical activist group based in Washington that focuses on poverty and social justice issues.

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“It is not the faith of the religious right. It’s about things that they don’t talk about. It’s about how the Bible is full of God’s clear instruction to care for the poor.”

Some see a 'different' kind of Christian

Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.

No other president has shared the hybrid faith that Obama displays, says Diana Butler Bass, a historian and author of “Christianity after Religion.”

“The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S.,” says Bass, a progressive Christian. “He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”

Some Christians, however, still see Obama as the “other.” He doesn’t act or talk like other Christians, says the Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

“I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity,” says Cass, pastor of Christ Church in San Diego.

Cass says he’s never heard Obama say he’s “born-again.” There’s no emotional conversion story to hang onto.

Obama talks about his faith and attends church, but Cass says that doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.

“Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. “You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.”

The origins of Obama’s faith

The suspicion about Obama’s faith may seem odd at first because he’s written and spoken so much about his spiritual evolution in his two autobiographies, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Other books, like “The Faith of Obama” by Stephen Mansfield, also explore Obama’s beliefs.

The 1925 “Monkey” trial of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher who taught evolution, drove fundamentalists underground, some say.

Mansfield says Obama is the first president who wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Obama’s mother was an atheist and his grandparents were religious skeptics (Obama’s family has challenged the description of his mother as an atheist. Obama called her “the most spiritually awakened” person he’d ever known, and his sister called their mother an agnostic).

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Mansfield called Obama’s boyhood a “religious swirl.  He was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, and strains of Hinduism and Buddhism while growing up in Indonesia during the 1960s.

“In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology,” Obama said in Mansfield’s book. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”

Obama became a Christian while he was a community organizer in Chicago. He joined a predominantly black United Church of Christ. The UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to officially support same-sex marriage in 2005.

Obama’s faith showed many of the elements of a liberal Protestant church: an emphasis on the separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the refusal to embrace a literal reading of the Bible.

In a 2006 speech before a Sojourners meeting, Obama talked about his approach to the Bible:

“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”

When many people think of Obama’s religious experience in Chicago, though, they cite his exposure to the angry sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “black liberation theology,” a movement that emerged in the late 1960s and blended the Social Gospel with the black power movement.

Bass, the church historian, says another black pastor shaped Obama’s theology more: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He attended liberal Protestant seminaries where he learned about the Social Gospel’s concern for the entire person, soul and body.

Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, seen here praying at Obama’s inauguration, but many still doubt his faith.

King once wrote that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them …is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”

But King and the black church also fused the Social Gospel with an emotional fervor missing from white Protestant churches, Bass says. Other presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the Social Gospel, but they weren’t shaped by the black church.

“This is the first time we’re hearing the Social Gospel from the perspective of the black church from the Oval Office. It makes it warmer, more emotive, more communal," Bass says. "There is less fear of linking the Social Gospel with the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of Exodus and Jesus’ healings.”

The emphasis on community uplift - not individual attainment - may strike some Americans as socialist. But the emphasis on community is part of King’s “Beloved Community,” Bass says.

King once wrote that all people are caught up in an “inescapable network of mutuality… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”

“When I listen to Obama, I don’t hear communism, I hear the Beloved Community,” Bass says. “But a lot of white Americans don’t hear that because they never sat in those churches and heard it over and over again. It’s the whole theology that motivated MLK and the civil rights movement.”

Obama is not a Christian, some think

For some, Obama’s actions in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity.

Jesus was nonviolent. Obama has ramped up drone attacks in Afghanistan that have not only removed terrorists, but killed civilians.

The Bible talks about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Obama invoked Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule," Obama told ABC News during his announcement.

Jesus talked about helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health care law that taxed the rich to help the poor, some Christians argue.

But Wallis of Sojourners says Obama’s push for health care was a supreme example of Christian faith.

A situation where 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance is “a fundamental Christian problem,” Wallis says.

“Health is such a Gospel issue. Jesus was involved in healing all the time, and to have some people excluded from health care because they lack wealth is a fundamental Christian contradiction.”

Wallis has been one of the most persistent defenders of Obama’s faith. But no matter how much Scripture he and others cite, doubts about Obama’s faith have followed him throughout his political career.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once said that Obama distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible “to fit his own world, his own confused theology.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, publicly questioned Obama’s faith, then later apologized.

Conservative Christian books and websites are filled with stories of Obama allegedly trying to suppress the nation’s Christian heritage.

The Rev. Steven Andrew, author of “Making a Strong Nation,” says Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and he’s ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.

“That’s the most serious thing someone can do to a nation, trying to separate a nation from God,” he says. “He seems to be trying to change the Christian laws our Founding Fathers made.”

Andrew says Obama is actually an enemy of Christianity. In his book, Andrew argues that the Founding Fathers were Christians who created a “covenant Christian nation” and calls for a “national repentance.”

“I think he’s an anti-Christ,” Andrew says.  Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice isn’t Christianity.

Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism,” Cass says.

“Do I believe in caring for the poor and oppressed? Yes. But you don’t do it along the lines of communistic redistributing.”

Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights also disqualifies him from being a Christian, Cass says.

“It’s the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America.  On every social issue – the sanctity of life and of marriage between men and women – Obama is on the wrong side of every moral issue,” he says.

He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.

“No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible,” Cass says. “These progressives who say they’re Christians are liars. They’re using Christianity as a guise to advance their own agenda.”

Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.

“He’s conflicted,” Cass says. “He has Muslim sympathies from his upbringing."

How progressive Christianity lost the public square

There was a time when Obama’s brand of Christianity would have been understood by millions of Americans, historians say.

Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha leave church after attending a Sunday prayer service.

The Social Gospel and progressive Protestantism dominated the American religious square from the end of the 19th century up to the 1960s. At times, the traditions blended together so seamlessly that it was hard to tell the difference.

The Social Gospel rose out of the excesses of the Gilded Age in the 1880s, when urban poverty spread across America as immigrants crammed into filthy slums to work long hours in unsafe conditions.

Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor in a New York slum, urged the church to take “social sins” as seriously as they took individual vices. Churches began feeding the poor and fighting against other social ills.

“The notion that religious people should be about feeding the poor and helping the homeless is a carryover of the Social Gospel,” says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. The Social Gospel was adopted by many Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th century, says Bass, the church historian. Some of the Social Gospel churches grew popular because they provided the poor with everything from English classes to sewing instructions and basketball leagues.

“The first American megachurches were liberal, Social Gospel urban churches,” Bass says.

The Social Gospel, though, sparked a backlash from a group of pastors during World War I. They were called fundamentalists. They published a pamphlet listing the “fundamentals of the faith:” Biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Adam and Eve.

But the fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.

Though Scopes lost, fundamentalist Christians were mocked in the press as “anti-intellectual rubes,” and a number of states suspended pending legislation that would have made teaching evolution illegal, says David Felten, author of “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”

The trial drove fundamentalists underground where they created a subculture, their own media networks, seminaries and megachurches, he says.

That subculture thrives today, Felten says, and has infiltrated the political arena. It has created an “alternative intellectual universe” that denies science, rational thought – and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a Christian, Felten says.

“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve – so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felten says.

Progressive Christians eventually lost the messaging wars to this fundamentalist subculture, Bass says. Their nuanced view of faith couldn’t compete with the “spiritual triumphalism” of conservatives.

“If you get up and say we’re right and we have the truth, then you have a powerful public message,” she says. “They have a theological advantage in the public discourse. It’s comforting to have things clear, to have things black and white.”

The result today is that the Protestant tradition that shapes much of Obama’s Christianity is fading from public view.

The share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

White mainline Protestants make up only 15% of the nation’s population, the survey revealed. The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

Another generation of Christians, though, may bring a new version of progressive Christianity back.

The lines between younger conservative Christians and progressives are blurring, says Marcia Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Pally spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She says her research revealed that more than 60% of young evangelicals support more governmental programs to aid the needy, as well as more emphasis on economic justice and environmental protection issues.

“What’s interesting is that these values, associated with Obama and the black Protestant tradition are now also the values of a growing number of white evangelicals,” she says.

Her perspective suggests that Obama’s faith may be treated by history in two ways:

He could be seen as the last embodiment of a progressive version of Christianity that went obsolete.

Or he could be seen as a leader who helped resurrect a dying brand of Christianity for a new generation.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church • Courts • Creationism • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Evolution • evolvution • Faith • Fundamentalism • Gay marriage • Gay rights • God • History • Homosexuality • Interfaith issues • Obama • Protestant • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage • Schools • Science

soundoff (8,626 Responses)
  1. Roscoe Chait

    This article is so tiresome. Have you noticed that the more "religion" there is in politics, the dirtier the politics become?

    October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  2. Tommy

    Americans are fake christians. They talk about god but they don't follow god's work.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Hello

      the so called moral code that is planted in the christian myth written by the Roman Flavian family came from earlier pagan, Greek and other philosophical resources, it has nothing to do with an supernatural deities commands.
      Read Caesar's Messiah my Joseph Atwill for the details.
      Remember the Jewish myth is rooted in the Egyptian culture that was controlled by the Greeks ... Which later was controlled by the Roman culture. These links are explained by Atwill in his book Caesar's Messiah and will be further explained in the up coming book The Single Strand.
      The Christian myth was rooted in the Jewish myth just as the Jewish myth was rooted in the Egyptian one...The Romans wanted to control the populations they had concord using mythological tales as a tool to control the masses with a Roman cultural message to assist in them getting money (TAXES) to feed the Roman desire to control the world. It was about contriving the masses and feeding on them too. Just the same as most nations do now... it is a well designed plan to control the people with a small group as its leaders... using mythic tools of supernatural of fear and reward.
      The same tools that had been successful for many hundreds if not thousands of years before. The same model was used to create islam and all the other spin off myths since then.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  3. Da Odorizer

    Some say mitt romney is the "wrong kind of christian".
    Some say mitt is the wrong choice to run this country.
    Some say that religion should really not mingle with politics and secular government.
    Some say that you can't run a complex society like a Bain's boy corporate hack.
    Some say we must re-elect president Obama, because otherwise the cut throat capitalists and the "burn'em on the stake" fundamentalists will take over.

    It's your choice.
    It's OUR choice.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  4. como1

    OK so Brownback was wrong. So what. A dumb article that attracted a lot of liberals eager to condemn anyone who does not believe in what they do.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  5. Jean

    WRONG! A typical liberal argument. If you have to change the definition of something to identify with it then by definition you are NOT that thing.
    Obama tries to identify with everything by changing the definiiton so by definition he is nothing.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • GW

      There is a wide range of Christians as there is Jews, Muslims, Buddists, athiests, etc. You and your pastor don't set the definition of Christian.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  6. .

    Obama isn't the wrong kind of Christian, if he is a Christian at all.

    He is the wrong kind of president.

    That's why he's four and out on November 6th. We could even see a landslide vis-a-vis Reagan v. Carter.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      You're saying he should have punted after 3rd down? I mean, come on, it's Sunday. Let's get the right KIND of religion going here.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Michael

      I remember this same kind of arrogance before he was elected the FIRST time. As you apparently didn't learn then, pride cometh before a fall...

      October 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • MagicPanties

      2 Funny.
      I will laugh so hard on Nov 7th when all you teanuts are crying.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • .

      I actually voted for Jimmy Carter - the first time.

      That's why I am sure, four and OUT.

      Because after all, it is the economy, stupid.

      Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have one thing in common: Malaise.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Ann

      I agree, Obama isn't any kind of Christian. He obviously doesn't even respect or care for this country so why is he our President? Hopefully, that will change this November.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  7. Farooq The Great

    He isn't a Christian. Just like Romney isn't a Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  8. Ted

    Obama a Christian? I laugh at that. He certainly does not lead this country like a Christian or by God's word. He is far to Islamic/Muslim friendly and going completely against God's word to try and divide the land of Israel and bring it back to the 1967 borders that he professed. The next day a massive tornado hit Joplin Missouri and did mass damage and took lives. It's part of the curse and judgement to divide Israel.
    I will vote Mitt Romney, he is the man I believe will more closely follow God's word and bring blessings to this country.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn is praying that you get a clue.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • SokrMom

      I didn't know God's name was "Ted." I've also never heard that God hates Muslims, or anyone else, or that he cares about national borders.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • GW

      He is voted in to be a secular political leader by a majority of Americans who of all or no faiths. If you want a theocracy, go live in Iran. See how well that's working.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • fred

      you're an f'ing retard

      October 21, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • rsone1

      Yes. Because God is all about corporate greed and giving in to big oil, so they can make even more money while destroying the environment. That's why Mitt Romney is such a good "Christian".

      October 21, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • sybaris

      So Ted, when a tornado or hurricane or blizzard strikes an uninhabited area what?

      Your god was practicing?

      Your god missed?

      You exemplify how religion and the worship of god(s) is a filthy perverted disease of the mind

      October 21, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  9. MagicPanties

    There is no "right" kind of christian any more than there is a "right" kind of follower of Zeus.

    Time to stop believing in fairy tales.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  10. SokrMom

    Sounds like just the right kind of Christian for today.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  11. ramsaxon

    Religion and the the chariot evolved simultaneously. Evolution brought out the mega church and the Indy 500 as we know them today. Unfortunately, there's no checkered flag or finish line involved in this revolution in evolution. The only agreement is disagreement!

    October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  12. Weels

    Obama, from his early exposures see the BIG PICTURE. The future of Mankind http:\\Truthmovement.blog.com

    October 21, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • .

      I agree. To those according to their needs from those according to their means.

      Achtung, baby.

      It's the big picture. Or didn't you know?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  13. Johnny 5

    Does everybody in this country know that Romney was a pastor that eventually became a Mormon bishop. What's wrong with that? Nothing really, except the fact that it is akin to electing a religious leader to the office of the presidency of the United States of America. Again, what's wrong with that? If you don't know the answer; you are not an American.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • JohnD

      Yes it is public knowledge he was a pastor and he even mentioned it in the debate.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • JohnD

      "akin to electing a religious leader to the office of the presidency of the United States of America. Again, what's wrong with that? If you don't know the answer; you are not an American."
      Why don't you help me out with the answer.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  14. hateuall

    Obama is a Muslim. He is not a Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • sybaris


      October 21, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  15. Parsley0204

    I did not like this expos'e, it was a disguised political attack even with the contrasting view points; there is a separation of church and state, that all this has shown to me has not been in effect for a long time...

    October 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Call's 'em like you see's 'em

      You're right.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  16. mlblogsyankeeblogspot

    People passing out, crying, Obama saying the oceans were going to change, presented himself as the savior to all past problems in our country. saying America would fundamentally change because of him, waging class warefare and limiting free enterprise in our nation. This so called Christian is the first to openly accept gay marriage as a political stance, which if you want to not believe what the bible says about it then fine, but this wasn't his stance when running in Chicago against a conservative black candidate. Anyone who says the affordable care act is Christian isn't familiar with the bible. Did God come down to the earth take the wealth of Rome, or the Jews devide it up, and make equal outcomes. No he said to the rich man give your wealth to the poor, and come follow me. Jesus left the man with choice, and that friends is the distinction. Does anyone argue that God is the highest authority? If God is all powerfull then why hasnt he changed society to even the playing field? the answer is found in the beginning of the bible, man shal bring forth bread by the sweat of his brow, and it shal be for his good. Does God seem like a man that changes with the times ? The answer is obvious, times change by him. He is Alpha, and Omega, the beginning and the end. Hope and change is individualistic in nature, it's self betterment, and comes from God not man. Hope is for God, and the bible says cursed is he that puts his faith in the arm of flesh. Gods spirit tells us when man has done something right, and glory to God alone be given when he does. Pontus Pilot said to Jesus "don't you know I have the power to crucify you", and Jesus said "you would have no power over me were it not given you from above". God gives man liberty, should man take it away ?

    October 21, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  17. sparky

    His policy is ending war and saving lives and the right (who preach war CONSTANTLY) say he's not a christian

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

      Let's be honest, dude. He's just a milder FLAVOR of warmonger than McCain or Romney. Such is the sad state of American politics that nobody would take a true peacemaker seriously on the national political stage.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  18. ArthurP

    Lets see what your Founding Fathers had to say about the subject:

    1. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas Jefferson

    2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." – Thomas Jefferson

    3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism's that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

    4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be cla.ssed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

    5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

    6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin .

    7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

    8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin

    9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin

    10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it"- John Adams

    11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.'- Thomas Paine

    12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine

    13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine

    14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine

    15. "All national inst.itutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine

    16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine

    17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in
    hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington

    18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln

    19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison

    20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

    21. History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. – Thomas Jefferson

    22. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superst!tion, bigotry, and persecution. – James Madison

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

      Thanks for this post. Please continue to post and maybe the t-baggers will get a clue.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • nottolate


      Virtually every one of those quotes is a lie. Just go to the National Archives to figure that out. Stay out of the atheist websites if you want the truth.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I've BEEN to the National Archives, notabraininyernoggin, and those are accurate quotes.

      What is wrong with you? Were you dropped on your head?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Alfred123

      Who gives a da.. what the president's religion is as long as he is a good President. And who give a f... about any incompetent President even if he/she has the "best" religion in the world. Let's leave religion for those who have nothing better to do.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  19. Alicia

    NO, because there is no "different kind of Christian"... you either are or, you aren't a Christian, besides, it's highly suspected he's Muslim anyway. A Christian isn't:
    A fraud
    Lies about their birthplace
    Deceives the world ...
    .............All 3 he has done AND he is doing.

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

      Is a Mormon a Christian?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • sybaris

      Alicia <<<<<<<<<<<<< Birther Alert!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Smarter than U

      Lies about his birthplace? What rock did you crawl out from under?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      "Deceives the world", eh? Coming from a birther. Wow!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Gadflie

      Alicia, by your definition, you aren't a Christian then.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • J

      I take it you're not a Christian, then.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Zwei Stein

      Like you. As if you knew the facts.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  20. Mopery

    To some, Romney is the 'wrong' kind of Christian.

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

      Not any more!!

      He bought Billy Grahams vote!!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
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About this blog

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