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. Bill D

    I don't know about "wrong type of Christian" but I will agree he's the wrong tyoe of president.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • .

      Whatsa matter? You some kind of racist?

      Yup. I think we got ourselves a reeeeaaaaal racist here, folks.

      Achtung, baby!

      October 21, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      Oops! You have enraged the liberal mob! Being against Obama means you area racist. I was actually waiting until Donna Brazille showed up, she will be saying that soon. I love the left, they are so predictable.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. Bruce

    If the Scopes trial drove fundamentalists underground as the article suggests does that mean we are being taken over by fundamentalist mole people coming up from the underground AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  3. .

    We must all pay higher taxes to support the public sector union pension plans. There will be more jobs in the public sector when public employees are allowed to retire at age 55 with twice their salary.

    And all you rich folk out there who don't think you should be paying higher taxes should be sent to reeducation camps.

    Achtung, baby.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Bruce

      We pay more taxes bcause we don't understand Caymen Island tax shelters

      October 21, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • .

      Good post, Bruce...... get that money out of the Cayman Islands and into my pension plan. And if your daddy dies and leaves you some money, I get that, too.

      The problem is there are too many people in the private sector who don't want me to retire early with a monthly pension payment that's more than I make. Well, that's just too bad.

      I am a public sector employee and you need to pay for my pension. I don't care about you and your family. They're your problem - you had 'em.

      And if you don't like it, that's just too bad.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  4. lindaluttrell

    It is very simple. If you do not believe the way the Christian Reich believes, then you are wrong. Pity!

    October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  5. blake

    Obama is at best a nominal Christian. A better description would be that he opportunisticly calls himself a Christian in hopes of expanding his voter base. Obama's worldview is a Marxist, secular worldview.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • NotFooledByDistractions

      blake, can you point out the intent of christianity in any of the romney/ryan proposals? Is eliminating funding that takes care of the poor and disabled your idea of christian? that's the romney ryan purview. Can you supply a passage in the bible where jesus says you're on your own as they do?

      October 21, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  6. majicmahon

    We know what religion he is. Could Blake not write the same about Romney. CNN is really trying hard to be impartial but they are as inconsistent as Romney/Ryan. Little wonder rating suck and people suffer following them.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  7. Searcher

    Obama has tried to level the playing field through education and accessible health care. Minority schools, businesses, farmers were always disadvantaged by government and this resulted in greater poverty amongst minorities. Gay people were created by God and so deserves equal dignity with everyone else. God also chose to attach the unborn to the mothers womb and this suggests that it is the mother alone with her conscience that must decide the faith of the unborn, unless ofcourse the mother is on sufficiently lucid to make the decision. Why can we not leave people to answer to God unless they hurt others? Do we not believe in a God that is able to hold people accountable? Why is it Godly to make bombs and make wars? Republicans never oppose wars but always oppose help to the poor. Why?

    October 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      Gay people were created by God? That's where I have to just shake my head. Did God also create the murderers, child molesters, rapists, and thieves of this world too? Personal responsibility means you get to make your own choices. Doesn't mean because you make them,God just backs you. That's retarded!

      October 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • GauisCaesar, your fundidiocity is showing.
      October 21, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  8. Nic

    Of course, Obama is the wrong kind of Christian, because he is trying to help the poor and prefers dialogue above war. Even Christ himself would be the wrong kind of Christian if you stick to the republican definition of the word.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Bruce


      October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • you nailed it
      October 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  9. Lance Gulick

    WHO CARES?!?!?!? Religion has no place in gov't!! Founding fathers seperated it for a reason! Or are we planning on going to a zealot religious based society like under the taliban? Waste of damn space on cnn...

    October 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  10. crixus79

    There is no such thing a a 'right' kind of Christian. They're all 'Wrong' which ever way you look at them – and that also applies to the Jews and Muslims. Leaves the beliefs in fairytales for children and grow up and be responsible adults.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  11. Rich

    In Utah, there is no clear separation between church and state.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  12. WayneVA

    1. The central message of Christianity calls for repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ.
    2. Social programs to assist the poor and needy are supposed to be ministries of the churches, not the government.
    3. Jesus’ view of marriage is one man belonging to God, joining with one woman belonging to God.
    4. Active church attendance, quoting the Bible, and doing many good deeds does not make a person a Christian any more than Apostle Judas was a Christian.
    5. Jesus-focused Christians interpret the Bible literally as indicated by the first several chapters of Matthew’s Gospel.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Luis Wu

      All of the above is nothing but ancient mythology and primitive superst!tion. It isn't real.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  13. Luis Wu

    Personally, I would prefer a president that doesn't blindly accept ancient mythology and primitive superst!tions as reality.

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

      So would I. But do you think we will see that in our lifetime?

      But it makes me laugh (sadly) that there is beeching about whether *he* is "the right kind of Christian" when those folks seem to think their god said "judge not lest you be judged".

      October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Well, rh, I didn't think I'd see a black president in my lifetime, but just look!

      Frankly, tho, I think you're reading the public sentiment correctly. We probably won't have an atheist president until after we've gone thru at least 4 women and 2 gays.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      Yes, but this isn't China. This nation was founded on those Christian principles. Also,your comment that Jesus was a leftist is ridiculous. The end of the story about the loose woman being stoned shows he ended it with "go and sin no more." Jesus was about salvation, not grossly taxing the rich to force them to pay for the poor.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Gadflie

      It already happened once. See Franklin Pierce for details.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Mayank

      Hi Drue,Thanks for bringing Craig to Valley Zen. For me it has been a priueocs discovery and a real eye-opener. I loved your interview. Not only because of the garden and the flowers, but also because of Craig’s simplicity in linking thought and deep knowing with immediate acting, and also for the way he connects moral compass, inclusion and listening capacity with Obama’s approach to politics. I will stay tuned for part No. 2 to see the relation between latrines and world harmony!Un fuerte abrazo,Costa

      December 13, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  14. AJ

    Deeds are more important than creeds (i.e., what you do in life is more important than what you say you believe).

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

      that would be a logical conclusion.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  15. Douglas

    It's pretty simple, Obama is not Christian.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Luis Wu

      You are pretty simple too. Simple-minded.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • rh

      And if he wasn't, WHY WOULD THAT MATTER!?!??!?!?!

      WHY would you have your President be a Christian?

      I find it HILARIOUS that most of the people complaining about this are NON-Catholics, who make believe that having a Pope is a BAD thing, yet the President being Christian is a necessity?

      Didn't that Jesus guy say something about give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's? It seems like *HE* didn't think that there was a role for religion in politics.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • sybaris


      October 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Becky Withrow

      We voted George Bush into office for moral reasons...abortion, gay rights....he was going to be the "Christian President". Vote the BIBLe! Nothing changed...here we are again...The Bible says that God puts certain men or woman in office...and we are to pray for them...oh but wait its Mr. Obama...in this matter we are smarter then God himself.....We decide now who is a christian and who is not...I will have no part of this nonsense, we christians wonder why people are leaving the church in droves well I say this is the reason........

      October 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Alain Ciphat

      and who is to say that the religious right in this country are true Christians? Jesus taught a message of love. The original Christians live as a commune sharing everything. This sounds more like Communism than Capitalism, and it is sure far from the current mega-churches that are in the US today, which are all about money. Real Christians don't persecute others; we are suppose to teach others about the new covenant with God, not force it down their throats. If we do that, then we are saying that we are on the same level as God, which is the greatest sin. Let God take care of that, for judgement is his and his alone.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  16. Rob

    If you are a true Christian why are you so judgemental? Isn't judgement god's duty. See the hippocracy and divisiveness of organized religion. Religion narrows ones thinking. There isn't a mortal man one this planet that can explain our existence or consciousness. Without complicating things why not just treat all life with respect. And think about how your words and actions will affect others before you say or do them. You don't need to sit in a building and have the ideas of others pounded into your heads.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  17. James

    I really wish all the militant atheists would actually get a life instead of wasting their time trying to argue with people of faith online, they give good atheists a bad name and are about as bad as any extremist in the Middle East. Also, the majority of the United States is Christian, so please just leave my beliefs alone. In addition to that, not all Christians are against abortion or gay marriage, and even if they were it is their right as citizens to hold those opinions, I am not talking to all atheists on here, just the militant ones.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • .

      Good post, James. Atheism used to be about tolerance. The militant movement has turned it into a religion of ignorance and intolerance.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Luis Wu

      When religious people stop trying to force their beliefs on everyone else through legislation; forced school prayer, denying a woman's right to chose, outlawing birth control, forcing the teaching of ancient mythology in schools instead of science, etc. etc. then that might happen.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Craven

      Of course. Atheists are just like militant Islam. We bomb abortion clinics, molest children en masse, we shun and embarass one another and demand each others time and money to be part of the fold. We knock on others doors and fly thousands of miles to build schools and extort native peoples into adopting our faith with goods as motivation. We loudly announce that those unlike us are doomed to burn in a pit of fire made by our loving and jealous God.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Saying that atheists should just shut up is akin to saying that people who complain about gross economic disparity are engaging in class warfare. We have legitimate concerns, and we come here to share them.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Bruce


      October 21, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • James

      First of all, I'm saying militant atheists give good atheists a bad name, second of all, I don't convert people, I don't try to put prayer in school, I don't rally against abortion, in fact, most Christians don't. Even if they did, they have the right to as citizens, every belief has extremists who take it to far and embarrass the rest, including atheism, doesn't mean we need to wipe them out, stop giving atheists a bad reputation

      October 21, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • snowboarder

      "militant atheists"

      lol. that's a good one.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • James

      I don't do any of that stuff, nor does anyone I know, and every one criticising my post about tolerance has really proved my point.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  18. Hope this is a joke...

    Come on....I know he is desperate at this point to gain ground, but an opinion piece like this is insulting. He's been to church all of 8 times while in office. This is just a shameless ploy by CNN to try and win him back some of the evangelical vote. Just pathetic. Cover the real news, instead of opinion pieces about nothing. How come CNN isn't reporting the New York Post's breaking story about Obama's campaign illegally accept foreign contributions?

    October 21, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      One of those times he went to church, he told the church he was glad to be there on the Sabbath. It was Sunday. More proof Obama is a great Christian. (sarcasm added)

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

      Gaius, you need to look up Sabbath sometime. It doesn't mean what you think it means.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Dustie

      Absolutely. The management, editors and owners of CNN might look at how their bias and "news" which amounts to no more than propaganda is causing Americans to turn elsewhere for authentic news. Fox News had coverage last night on Benghazi, with word for word quotes, videos, real information about Benghazi-step by step outlining the changing stories coming out of the White House on Benghazi. They asked hard questions: If the information was emerging and they "didn't know" why did the WH take the unusual step of sending Susan Rice around to the talk shows to talk as if she DID know? Looks totally like a cover-up, but you won't see anything on CNN that reflects badly on Obama. Just do bias checks like I do; go elsewhere for authentic reports.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      8 times, eh? That puts him 7 up on Reagan, who I just KNOW you opposed tooth and nail at the time, right?

      October 21, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      Gadflie, apparently there wasn't enough room for you to qualify your comment? The Sabbath is on Saturday. I have no clue what you mean when you say it "isn't what you think it means." Can you be more clear?

      October 21, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  19. Dustie

    I have come to expect this from CNN: Bias, distractions from any issues that might reflect badly on Obama, omitting important authentic news and investigative reporting... and the relentless promoting of Obama from the content of the daily articles to Candy Crowley.
    I don't think anyone can know what Obama feels in his heart about religion, but it certainly appears that he used religion to advance himself politically. I think that since that is an unknown and always will be, it is far more important to look at his actions: Twenty years of sitting in sermons given by the anti-semitic, anti-American Rev. "G-damn America Wright". And actually, this close to election, far more important to look at his foreign policy and the serious, unanswered questions about Benghazi and what certainly looks like a cover-up. When media doesn't cover Benghazi, they are a part of the cover-up, too.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Dangling the lure may be on them. Biting on it is on you.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • GauisCaesar

      What gave it away? Was it that the population of gay anchors on CNN is about 400% higher than the national average? Was it that every mention of Obama is positive, and every mention of a GOP is negative? Is it that half of the staff of CNN are on the Obama campaign? Or maybe it's the context clues from the normal Sunday article somehow calling fundamental Christians wrong? Honestly, I wait all week for the Sunday article telling me I am a bad Christian by an author who can't spell the word Christian!

      October 21, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  20. GauisCaesar

    I definitely don't take Obama's beliefs as being Christian. In virtually every manner, his version of Christianity is completely against the Bible's charges. And if MLK Jr really said that quote above in the story, he was wrong too!

    October 21, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Luis Wu

      His version of Christianity is more like what Jesus taught than the right wing conservative Christians' beliefs. He believes in helping the poor and the common man, not the rich and powerful.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:58 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.