In Obama’s first term, an evolving Christian faith and a more evangelical style
President Obama speaking from the pulpit of a Washington church in 2010.
October 27th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

In Obama’s first term, an evolving Christian faith and a more evangelical style

Editor's note: This is the last in a series about the faith lives of the presidential candidates, which includes a profile of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – President Obama’s prayers for a strong first debate may not have been answered, but that doesn’t mean the prayers weren’t happening.

Before he stepped onto a Colorado stage earlier this month to face off with Mitt Romney for the first time, Obama joined a conference call with a small circle of Christian ministers.

“The focus of that prayer was, ‘Oh, Lord, you know precisely what the president needs to say,'” says Kirbyjon Caldwell, a Methodist megachurch pastor from Texas who helped lead the call. “'You know what this country needs during the next four years.’”

“'And so I would pray that your primary will and words that you want the president to say will fall from his lips,'” Caldwell goes on, recalling his prayer.

Obama, for his part, was mostly silent.

“There’s a profound and genuine humility in the presence of Christ himself,” Caldwell says, describing the president on such calls. “I think he recognizes it as a holy moment.”

It was the second time Caldwell and Obama had prayed by phone in as many months. The two had connected in August on a prayer call Obama has hosted on his birthday every year since coming to the White House.

Welcome to the intense, out-of-the-box and widely misunderstood religious life of President Barack Obama.

Though he famously left his controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the year he was elected to the presidency, a handful of spiritual advisers close to Obama say that his time in office has significantly deepened his faith.

The making of a candidate: Mitt Romney’s faith journey

Stephen Mansfield, a former Christian pastor who wrote the book “The Faith of Barack Obama,” goes so far to say that Obama has experienced a spiritual transformation.

“I think we do have at heart a new man, so to speak,” says Mansfield, who worked closely with the White House and with some Obama religious advisers on his book. “He has undergone a pretty significant personal religious change in his first term.”

Methodist minister Kibyjon Caldwell, right, has grown close to President Obama after serving as a spiritual counselor to President George W. Bush. Here, Caldwell and Bush share a stage in 2003.

Obama’s faith advisers say Mansfield goes a step too far, though they acknowledge that when it comes to his faith, Obama has changed.

“There is a deepening development in his relationship with God,” says Joel Hunter, a Florida-based pastor who has been in touch with Obama nearly every week since he took office. “He chooses to stay faithful in daily habits of study and prayer and consistent times of interchange with spiritual leaders.”

“I am not sure he did that before he came to the presidency.”

Whether or not Obama has been spiritually “reborn” in the evangelical sense, his spiritual counselors say the president’s faith has helped shape his first term in ways that haven’t been appreciated by voters or the news media.

And they say the presidency is bringing Obama to a new place in his faith - building on a system of belief and practice that helped bring him to the White House in the first place.

Talking like Billy Graham

These days, when the president talks about his faith, he sounds like a born-again Christian.

Addressing the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington this year, Obama recalled meeting the nation’s most iconic evangelical Christian, Billy Graham, and described his struggle to find the right words as he prayed aloud with the aging evangelist.

“Like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say,” Obama told the gathering, invoking the New Testament.

It was hardly the only part of the speech where Obama was speaking “Christianese” – employing a lexicon familiar to evangelical Christians, who put a premium on quoting Scripture and communing directly with the Holy Spirit.

Understanding Barack Obama’s gospel

At the same breakfast, Obama spoke of spending time every morning in “Scripture and devotion” and dropped the names of “friends like Joel Hunter or T.D. Jakes,” both well-known pastors of evangelical megachurches.

“He was talking like Billy Graham” at the breakfast, says Mansfield, who also wrote an admiring spiritual biography of former President George W. Bush.

Even in the more secular setting of the Democratic National Convention, Obama hinted at an intense White House prayer life, along with his need for God’s grace.

Some say President Obama sounds like an evangelical when he speaks about his religion, echoing the famous evangelist Billy Graham. The two men met at Graham's mountaintop home in North Carolina home in 2010.

“While I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings,” Obama said in his acceptance speech, “knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’"

Such pious talk marks a departure from how the president discussed his faith life before his White House years.

Back then, Obama cited his religion more as a basis for social action than for spiritual sustenance. He would temper declarations of belief with affirmations of doubt.

Asked in a 2004 interview whether he prayed often, Obama, then a candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, responded: “Uh, yeah, I guess I do.”

In a 2007 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama voiced skepticism about Scripture.

“There are aspects of the Christian tradition that I’m comfortable with and aspects that I’m not,” he said. “There are passages of the Bible that make perfect sense to me and others that I go ‘Ya know, I’m not sure about that.’”

These days, Obama forgoes such equivocations in favor of a full-throated Christianity.

To Mansfield, the evolution of Obama’s comments on religion bespeak a born-again experience, prompted largely by the president’s break with Wright and his arrival into a circle of spiritual counselors that includes many evangelicals.

The White House declined requests to speak to Obama.

But Hunter, the president’s closest spiritual counselor, says Obama has technically been a born-again Christian for more than 25 years, since accepting Jesus at Wright’s Chicago church in the 1980s.

But it's in the last four years that the president has become more evangelical in his habits.

He now begins each morning reading Christian devotionals on his Blackberry.

And then there’s the circle of pastors Obama has begun praying with before big events like the first presidential debate.

A circle of evangelicals

After landing in Washington following his 2008 election, Obama shopped around for a new church. But he wound up making his spiritual home instead among a circle of far-flung pastors that includes Hunter, Jakes and Caldwell, the minister from Texas.

Conference calls with the group started while Obama was still a presidential candidate, including on the night of his 2008 victory. The president-elect spoke by phone with Hunter and other Christian ministers, rejoicing in victory but also grieving the death of his grandmother, who helped raise him, just a few days earlier.

The migration from Wright – who almost brought down Obama’s campaign with videos that showed him sermonizing about “God damn America” and “the U.S. of KKK A” – to this new group, says Mansfield, has been underappreciated.

“[Obama] went into the Oval Office … questioning the only pastor he’d ever had,” Mansfield says. “Wright left him humiliated.”

“And there were deeper questions about the theology that [Obama] had received,” Mansfield continues. “Some part of Wright’s religious orientation had failed.”

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

Where Wright is a liberal mainline Protestant, emphasizing liberation and social action, Obama’s new circle of pastors includes theologically conservative evangelicals like Hunter and Jakes, who stress God’s grace and personal transformation.

Mansfield notes that the chaplain who has presided for the last few years at Camp David, where Obama spends many Sundays, is also an evangelical.

Some of Obama’s spiritual counselors credit Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, with leading Obama to a more evangelical-flavored Christianity. Caldwell calls him the president’s personal pastor.

A former associate pastor at a Pentecostal church in Boston, DuBois is the one responsible for sending Obama Scriptures and scriptural meditations five days a week; Hunter does it on the other two days.

The evangelical pastor Joel Hunter, center, and White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Executive Director Joshua DuBois, right, are the President’s closest religious counselors. Here they are in February.

DuBois convenes a daily 8:15 a.m. conference call with pastors to pray for the country and the president, who is not on the call. (Lately, those calls have also included prayers for Mitt Romney.)

And it’s DuBois who organized the president’s circle of spiritual advisers. After graduate school at Princeton, DuBois talked his way onto Obama’s staff at the U.S. Senate, repeatedly driving to Washington to make his case after job applications were rejected.

When Obama launched his presidential campaign a few years later, DuBois was plucked as its faith outreach director.

The 30-year-old White House aide plays down his influence on his boss.

“He has always been on a Christian journey,” DuBois says of Obama, “and the challenges of the office, of being leader of the free world, provides a deepening and strengthening of faith, and that’s what you see with the president.”

“I remember working with him around the Scripture he would use at the memorial service for the miners in West Virginia,” DuBois says, referring to the 2010 tragedy that left 29 dead. “These are obviously moments when one's faith is strengthened.”

The unparalleled trials of the Oval Office have been known to deepen the religiosity of presidents ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan.

Hunter says the same thing has happened to this president: “His faith has been growing as the challenges of the presidency have become more naturally the main part of his own everyday life.”

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One of Hunter’s first Oval Office encounters with Obama came shortly after the president took office, at a time when the economy was shedding 750,000 jobs a month.

“He acknowledged at that meeting what many may know but few remember: that by the time issues get to the president, there are no simple or clear answers or they would have been solved by others,” Hunter says. “So we prayed.”

A few months later, Hunter was in the Oval Office again, noticing that “the unremitting heaviness of the office was setting in.”

“I saw something that has been consistent ever since: He cannot just pray for himself and his family,” Hunter says by e-mail. “At least I have never seen it. His faith, his heart, always includes those who are being left out through no fault of their own.”

Despite the changes they’ve seen in Obama, both Hunter and DuBois are uncomfortable with the word “transformation” when it comes to Obama’s White House faith life.

“The president doesn’t deal in labels,” says DuBois. “He knows God’s grace is sufficient for him and beyond that doesn’t get into labels, evangelical or mainline. He’s a proud Christian.”

Loving God by loving your neighbor

When the Rev. Sharon Watkins and a group of fellow Protestant ministers sat down with Obama at the White House a couple years into the president’s term, she knew the pastors would get wonky about religion.

“You get a bunch of ministers in the room and we’re all church geeks – it’s theological,” says Watkins, who along with the other pastors had come to talk about poverty. “But the president got every biblical allusion and reference. … He’s just a person who is biblically and theologically literate.”

If Obama’s personal theology has grown more conservative, he is inclined to apply it toward liberal political ends.

“I’d be remiss if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends,” Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. “So instead, I must try - imperfectly, but I must try - to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.”

In signing laws that have increased Wall Street regulations and stopped health insurance companies from rejecting patients with preexisting conditions, Obama said at the breakfast, he wanted to “make the economy stronger for everybody.”

“But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years,” he continued. “And I believe in God’s command to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’”

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

Obama went on to frame decisions as disparate as ending tax breaks for the wealthy and defending foreign aid as examples of biblical principles in action, quoting Jesus’ teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required” and invoking the “biblical call to care for the least of these.”

That last biblical reference also loomed large in another 2011 White House meeting between Obama and a group of religious leaders. They’d come to urge the president to protect programs for the poor amid his fight with Congress over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive activist, recalls the meeting:

In pressing Obama to take cuts to those programs off the table, one Roman Catholic bishop told the president that “the text that we are obliged to obey does not say ‘as you have done to the middle class you have done to me.’”

“It says as you’ve done to the least of these, you have done to me,” the bishop said.
“I know that text,” Obama responded. The passage is from the Matthew 25 in the New Testament.

“So there was this very rigorous conversation,” Wallis says, “and we pressed him on applying Matthew 25 to this decision about protecting those who were the least of these.”

Ultimately, the programs that the religious leaders were lobbying for were protected in the debt ceiling deal, though it’s unclear how big a role the religious leaders played.

For liberal Christians, such victories embody the justice of the social gospel, the idea that believers should do God’s work – even aid the Second Coming - by improving society.

“I do notice that sometimes, like on health care, when [Obama] says it’s the right thing to do, it’s him saying you love God by loving your neighbor,” says Watkins, who leads a mainline denomination called Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “He’s doing the best he can to be guided by God so he can be a faithful follower of Christ.”

Skeptics might write off Obama’s Bible talk as sanctimonious window dressing, aimed at no higher purpose than connecting with churchgoers in the purple and red states. But translating the Good Book into progressive politics has always been a mainstay of Obama’s political biography.

‘An awesome God in the blue states’

When Obama landed on Chicago’s South Side in 1985 as an idealistic 23-year-old, eager to start work as a community organizer, he was already a political liberal.

He was also a man without a religion, the son of a spiritual-but-not-religious mother whom he would later describe as “a lonely witness for secular humanism” and an estranged African father who was born a Muslim but died an atheist.

Obama’s work in Chicago, built around causes like tenants’ rights and job training for laid-off workers, was steeped in religion.

His salary was paid by a coalition of churches. And the job took him into many black churches, among the most influential institutions in the neighborhood he was organizing, including Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ.

After a lifelong struggle to fit in, set in motion by his mixed-race parents, Trinity felt like home.

“I came to realize that without a vessel for beliefs, without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith,” he wrote later, “I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart.”

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who brought Obama to Christianity, ignited controversy that almost brought down Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

The changes that Wright’s church wrought weren’t just personal. Baptism and active membership there equipped Obama with an ability to connect with churchgoers he was trying to organize – and, years later, with religious voters he was trying to win over – in a deeper way.

Wright, who did not respond to interview requests for this story, gave Obama a moral framework for his liberal politics. The pastor espoused a black liberation theology that equates Jesus’ life and death with the plight of those who Wright saw as disenfranchised, from African-Americans to Palestinians.

“Wright is the religious version of almost everything Obama already believed without religion,” says Mansfield, who spent time at Trinity for his book. “It’s a support of oppressed people anywhere in the world.”

When Obama emerged on the national stage, his comfortable religiosity and sensitivity to the concerns of churchgoing Americans helped distinguish him as a Democrat.

“We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” he declared to huge applause in his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, catching the attention of young Christians like Joshua DuBois.

But at that same convention, Obama’s party nominated John Kerry, a candidate who eschewed God talk and who lost his own Catholic demographic on Election Day.

Four years later, Obama hired religious outreach staffers like DuBois for his presidential campaign and made a point of meeting with Christian Right leaders who’d never before heard from a Democratic presidential nominee.

Obama went on to win in places like Indiana and North Carolina, evangelical-heavy states that a Democratic presidential nominee hadn’t taken in decades.

If the Rev. Wright had almost brought down his presidential campaign, the controversial minister had also long ago laid the groundwork for Obama to connect with the churchgoing voters who had turned their backs on Kerry.

The politics of confusion

As president, the line between Obama’s personal convictions and his political prowess on religious matters can sometimes be hard to discern.

Obama invited the conservative evangelical megapastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his 2009 inauguration, ruffling liberal feathers. He introduced an annual Easter prayer breakfast as a new White House tradition. He gives shout-outs to young evangelical leaders in major speeches.

Obama asked evangelical pastor Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration, riling some of the president's liberal supporters.

All can be seen as genuine reflections of Obama’s faith and his appreciation for the role of religious leaders in public life. And in a nation where more people believe in angels than in evolution - a fact that the president himself has publicly noted - all promise political benefits.

The same could be said for Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, and for presidents as diverse as Jimmy Carter and Reagan: All had deep spiritual streaks that enabled the political art of courting religious Americans, especially evangelicals.

The irony, in Obama’s case, is that despite his orthodox utterances - there’s “something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective,” he said at this year's Easter breakfast - polls continue to show widespread confusion about his faith.

Only half the country can correctly identify Obama as Christian, according to one recent Pew poll, while 17% falsely believe he is a Muslim.

“He’s a Christian and he professes his Christian faith - I don’t know what else this man has to do to get that into folks’ ears,” says Caldwell, who was also close to George W. Bush.

President Obama at the 2011 White House Easter prayer breakfast, an annual tradition that he started.

But Obama’s public piety has helped him bond with young evangelical leaders, who are less tied to the GOP than their parents’ generation.

“I was struck by the specificity of what he described in terms of theology and what it means to him,” says Gabe Lyons, one such leader, describing a White House Easter breakfast he attended. “His message is very specific and very orthodox.”

Where exactly that new orthodoxy comes from – the pressures of the White House, a new circle of religious advisers or, to a certain degree, from political calculation – may become clearer after Obama's presidency, if he opens up about such matters.

Until then, the president is likely to keep speaking "Christianese" - and resisting Christian labels.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (4,988 Responses)
  1. Voting for Romney

    "And so I would pray that your primary will and words that you want the president to say will fall from his lips,'” Caldwell goes on, recalling his prayer."


    November 6, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  2. DRinNC

    I find it impossible to reconcile the cold, arrogant, angry Obama, who mocks his fellows if they disagree, who vengefully attacks others who do not share his vision - as somehow being a man who has found God's grace.

    November 6, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 6, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • random guy

      Wow that post is so profound a tear came to my eye

      November 6, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  4. Sharon

    Wow, CNN! Have you considered a career at writing fiction? Oh, that's right...you already do...

    November 6, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  5. WillieLove


    November 6, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  6. WillieLove


    November 6, 2012 at 4:34 am |
  7. WillieLove


    November 6, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  8. WillieLove


    November 6, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  9. WillieLove


    November 6, 2012 at 4:26 am |
  10. was blind, but now I see


    "By their fruits ye shall know them..... In the last days many shall be decieved, How can Obama have fruits of hate and deception, and people don't see this?? Last days Baby..... and we'll be gone !!!!"

    Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Nobody who cannot open his mouth without spewing forth a steady and continuous stream of lies can be born again. It is impossible. My spirit is troubled beyond human understanding whenever I hear Obummer speak. It's like oil and water. They do not mix.

    November 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Was blind, still blind. So redemption was good enough for you but not for people you have an irrational hatred of?

      November 5, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      What do you mean "They?" Whatever "they" are, you claim that they mix like oil and water, but you only described a singular act: Listening to him (Obama) speak. Please explain.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      They = oil and water.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      1 Corinthians 2
      King James Version (KJV)

      2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

      2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

      3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

      4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

      5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

      6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

      7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

      8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

      9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

      10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

      11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

      12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

      13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

      14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

      15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

      16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Nii

      When did Pope Benedict cease being the anti-Christ that Obama has taken over? lol

      November 6, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  11. Jenny Porter

    It's important to take it from people who know from experience.


    November 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • BigZman

      Really has nothing to do with Mormonism. Just more about apostasy in general. As for this article about odumbazz and his "faith" he is SO narcissist that he believes he IS god. He is demon possessed. All you need do to realize that is look into his eyes and see what he does...PURE EVIL

      November 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  12. foreclosure procedures in Illinois

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren't loading properly. I'm not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I've tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

    November 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • FYI

      All is well on Firefox here.

      Try clearing your cache - or restarting your computer.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  13. KYLE

    I feel like because Obama had stated at one point all religions lead to heaven , and how he never stated his faith during the debates and Romney did , that the faith most be bold , not hidden . A city on a hill cannot be hidden . and Realize we want a revival in America but its not going to come through one man , Its the Church that is going to raise up America ! theres only one King of Kings and Lord of Lords and his name is Jesus Christ !

    November 5, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Nii

      You are not making any sense. The passage about the city on the hill talks specifically about our works of charity not professions of faith. You can shout about how much faith you have and perform as much acts of religion that will earn your pastors will praise you. However Christ was talking about performing acts of charity from a loving heart so that non-believers will praise God's positive influence in your life.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Nii

      Also Kyle. Jesus is the ultimate example of spirituality that is why he is the WAY, TRUTH AND LIGHT and you can't go to the Father but only by following His Example. Spirituality unlike religion has no borders. Christ was a spiritual leader. He didn't believe in religious boundaries hence the Parable of the Good Samaritan (subst.itute Mormon, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, JW, WBC, Muslim, Buddhist and any other here who's beliefs you do not share). Also none of His references to the Judgement Day were religious as in go to this Church or follow that religion but rather feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit pr.isoners and the like. Anyone who does them will be saved not necessarily Christians. Read your Bible by passages don't just memorize verses.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • track

      John 3:5 Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
      Baptism, by those who have authority and the reception of the holy ghost is the key to enter the kingdom of God. You could be the most philanthropic man in the world, but miss these two, and you cannot enter. Eternal laws, simply stated by Christ himself.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • TC

      He has lived his religious belief very openly. Canned religious "shout outs' during debates are not a sign of real faith, just pandering.

      The only question is whether or not his actions in office have spoken to his faith. And they have.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • chico

      I agree- Not to mention Obama cancelled National Prayer Day- but he sure does love to goto Muslim events

      November 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Exactly right, Track. I have tried explaining this to Nii on more than one occassion.

      "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity."

      Matthew 7:22-23

      November 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • familiar enough with scripture to catch a misquote

      @Nii, the Bible does not say " he is the WAY, TRUTH AND LIGHT and you can't go to the Father but only by following His Example", it says "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through ME." (emphasis added by me) There is a significant difference between "Him" and "His example". There are many verses which express that we are not saved by our works, but by faith. You can do all the good works you want, but if you refuse to accept Christ as your personal savior AND Lord, then no, you are not saved.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Nii

      You have done well to quote the proper verse but as I said it in the spiriit of paraphrasing to help clarify its meaning unfortunately Life and Light got entangled. I was working and just put up my head to write something, sorry! However the essence of my post still stands. Most people think of Christ as a religious leader and as such focus on their sectarian interpretation of His Teaching. However who can tell me of all the Jewish sects He met the one to which he belonged. He hated sectarian and religious friction. Spirituality has no bounds if you practisee it. A spiritual Buddhist or Muslim behaves the same as a Spiritual Christian or Jew. They will all bear fruit of the Spirit. If you read Roman Chapters 2 & 3 you will understand. Most Christians who sit in their denominations to say their doctrine is close to Christ's and as such it will take men to Heaven are sorely mistaken.
      Also all you who say we are saved by faith are wrongly reading the Bible by verses. Christ and the Apostles as well as the OT make it clear that there are religious works and works of charitable love. Works of religion cannot save you as they have no spiritual significance. Works of charity are proof of faith. If you don't have them you are a liar. You have no faith which can save you. One line of Scripture repeated over and over does not make it a sound doctrine. Salvation by faith alone is partially correct. Your works must show this faith or you are not saved.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • Nii

      I can also quote Scripture
      From Matthew 25:31–46 (WEB):

      31"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 36I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in pr.ison, and you came to me.'

      37"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?'

      40"The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 41Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

      44"Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?'

      45"Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.' 46These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

      Where was faith ever mentioned as a requirement? Or religion? Religious works like preaching, baptism, circu.mcision and exorcism are condemned as vain throughout the Bible if you do not show works of charity.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • Nii

      Lastly the wonderful works which you falsely try to relate to charitable works are miracles. Now I wonder why you say Obama is Muslim when he has grasped the essence of Matt 25 and you have not?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:40 am |
  14. Baptist Minister

    As we near perhaps the most important election in modern times I am very concerned that many Christians have lost their way and are imperiling themselves, and this country as a whole, by supporting the presidential candidacy of a Mormon 'high priest'.
    My position on the Romney candidacy is unequivocal and unmoving. To put it bluntly – and to focus solely upon the most important issue that I, as a Christian minister, must consider – I will state it as follows: Because Mormonism is a church of Satan, and Mitt Romney, in his leadership role(s) in this insidious and abominable cult, is a disciple of Satan, no Christian can support his campign. It's as simple as that folks!

    Now we can all debate why Reverend Graham has taken the actions he has until the cows come home, but, all that is really, at this point in time, is a distraction (no surprise there). We may never truly know why he took such an immoral and bewildering course of action. But, ultimately, it is God who will judge him for it, not us.
    The important thing Christians should focus upon in these dawning days is the Truth. And the truth is that this country cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of Satanical anti-Christian and anti-American cult. Now I know that Romney has promised much to many Christians, and has managed to assauge their concerns over his "religion" with many vocal assurances. He has said what he has needed to say to every particular group he has spoken to, promising "change", an end to abortion and all sorts of other answers that seem to fall in line with Christian morals and values, but..! What else would one expect to see and hear from such a man? Yes, he has checked off on all the right boxes, but, if one looks a bit closer they will clearly see that he has checked off a great, great many other boxes as well. Boxes that each, on their own and alone, are enough to disqualify the man.

    I will close by asking all Christians that have pledged their support to this man to reconsider. In my opinion if you are supporting this man, you clearly have not thought it through enough. I ask you to meditate upon it and pray. And I will pray and ask God to guide us through this dire situation and lead us to the correct decision.

    God Bless America, and Please, please vote for anyone but Mitt Romney!!

    November 5, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • agkcrbs

      The church of Satan surely includes those who have replaced a living God with a dead one. LDS believe God speaks. You do not. Your Bible is closed, when God never closed it, and when the best the old Christians, having lost their apostles and run out of prophecy, could do was try to arrange a mystical curse at the end to excuse their own regrettable, unbiblical deafness to the divine voice. Your faith in a dead God is vain; you're apparently blind to your own disbelief and sadly cut off from repentance of it; and your prejudiced accusations and support of a policy platform that defiles the sacred fountain of life, pretending to "love" people by clothing them in chains of dependency, expose your fearful guilt. Flee back to the Satanic master you publicly decry yet still obediently serve, so he can tell you how to continue leading others astray, that someday many of their sins may be heaped on your angry, petrified little head. Those with any moral clarity at all have heard a better voice in this campaign: no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification, but the test of values and integrity, and a president who respects family and rights of faith is better than one who, like you, claims a religious label but then opposes family and faith.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Scott

      Right on, pastor! I'm a born again Christian who just cast an absentee ballot for BHO. I also started praying for him on a regular basis, something I had not done before but was advised to do by my new pastor. Souls are at stake here!

      November 5, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Nii

      What on Earth are you talking about? This is one of the reasons the LDS is called a cult. Most of what you said is untrue and as such is spiritual abuse on the part of the church's founders and leaders. The Canon of the Christian and Jewish Bibles were insti.tuted to be a standard by which to check later revelation not to stop revelation. It was also to exclude Gnostic cults like Mormonism.
      Also like most Mormons you believe your church members are perfect while other churches have evil doers. Blind to the fact that there are evil-doers in your midst. What about your churches admission that it has softened it stance towards the LGBT COMMUNITY OR THAT THERE ARE LGBT MORMONS. Are there not Mormon girls aborting babies. Give us a break. Maybe only Mormons should vote for Romney.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Carlos

      I really didn’t buy all the things Dan Gilgoff said about President Obama. If anything, because of the abortion and gay marriage issues were not even mentioned in this article. I remember that in the first term Obama was the one who opposed to gay marriage, and now (that the country has definitely moved towards more “tolerance” to sin), he actively promotes it. While his social agenda and Biblical knowledge (Matthew 25) is commendable, I don’t see him as our best choice but simple as our least bad choice.

      So, having said these things, I will still vote for President Obama not so much for the other issues I agree with him (immigration and especially economy), but because of the facts you Baptist Minister also mentioned about Bishop Romney (he was indeed a Mormon priest in Boston and a Mormon missionary in France). I believe with all my heart, after thousands of hours reading the Bible under prayer so my understanding would be inspired by the Holy Spirit, that the Mormon church is indeed a satanic cult - it’s one of the “other gospels” Paul talks about in Galatians 1:8.

      About Billy Graham, in spite of his many years of faithful service to God, isn’t he the same pastor who told Robert H. Schuller that Jesus is not the only way? Let’s pray so he won’t end up as King Solomon. Idolatry in our age includes also putting politics over Christian doctrine. The new “golden calf” of the so-called Christian Right is now "politics".

      I know that unfortunately, the universal acceptance of gay marriage and pro-abortion laws will come in our days with or without Obama, as we approach to the end of the age Jesus talks about in Matthew 25 (I wonder if President Obama has read that chapter too); but we don’t have to settle right now for a Mormon Priest and President. As Christians, we don’t really have a real Christian representative.

      Our vote for Obama must be not be interpreted as a vote for him - but a vote against allowing a satanic priest becoming the president of the most powerful country on earth. If Romney's candidacy is already helping to bring Mormonism into the mainstream (like many newspapers have already noticed), as president, Romney will definitely help Mormonism to be accepted as a Christian denomination.

      As we approach the end of the times, discerning will probably need to become a universal gift. Please spend some good quality time with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading before casting that vote. God bless.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • Charles

      Hey Baptist Minister..... Its with all respect to you and God who you represent.... I grew up the son of a fundimental Baptist Minister, who beat my mother my sister and myself along with verble abuse for years but my mother stayed with him. Sometimes we are blinded by the deciever which the bible speaks about. I left home at 17 and never looked back, along with leaving the Baptist Church. It took many years to realize hate of my father was making my life misrable. I have a very personal relationship with my Father in Heaven and if not for that relationship life would be tough..... Now th the Mitt Romney thing...... Obama has lied to our faces and with your background you should know about the decievers in the last days. Don't vote for Romney ?? Who will you vote for.... the deciever of our nation ? I'm not trying to change your mind, and certainly if Obama gets re elected life will continue to get harder in the last days. Rommney may not have it all right, but he certainly has it more right than Obama !! A non vote for Romney is the same as a vote for Obama and a step clossser to the end of your's and your congrigations religious freedoms. As for Billy Graham your right he will have to answer for his decisions and me for mine and you for yours. I'm kinda sure Mr Gram is willing to do that, and I know where I stand. My cincern is that you really understand you must do the same. Not judging you just concerened.....

      November 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Charles

      Carlos a vote for Obama is a vote for Islam weather you believe that or not...... Romney aint a lot better but he will not be in as much of a hurry to take our religious rights away. We must be vigilent or we may find ourselves meeting in basements with other believers sooner than we think

      November 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Charles. What are examples of religious rights that you believe are under attack from Obama?

      November 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • crblack

      You are a fine example of Christianity!!! (sarcasim intended) The fact that you don't agree with a religion does NOT give you the right to call it a religion of satan. By their fruits you shall know them. You appear to be hate mongerer.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      @Charles "Carlos a vote for Obama is a vote for Islam weather you believe that or not...... Romney aint a lot better but he will not be in as much of a hurry to take our religious rights away. We must be vigilent or we may find ourselves meeting in basements with other believers sooner than we think."

      This is absolutely astonishing to me. Why on earth people need to make it sooooooo completed, when it is soooooooooo simple? There is no way in heck, or heaven, or on earth that anybody who is truly born again (flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone, and spirit of His spirit) could even consider for one second the things that Obummer represents. Period.

      November 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Was blind, still blind. What are examples?

      November 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • "Baptist Minister" is an idiot!

      Dear "Baptist Minister,"

      When a Christian votes in this election he is to vote for the platform that the candidate represents. Mormons are not Satanists. Liberty University is technically the highest authority in the Baptist world. They support Mitt Romney. You should support the platform of what your candidate represents. It is just that simple.
      Go back to your congregation of 10 people in the woods and read the Bible. Maybe even go to seminary and get a degree. Ask God almighty to forgive you for your stupid comments and to open your eyes. The only Satanist in the mix is you. Idiot!

      November 6, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  15. NLuu

    Quote" Stephen Mansfield, a former Christian pastor who wrote the book “The Faith of Barack Obama,” goes so far to say that Obama has experienced a spiritual transformation." Spiritual transformation...huh????? It's hard to believe because the Holy book states very clear in John 14:15 that whoever loves me obey my commands. How could one grows spiritually but does thing opposite from what God has commanded? If BO wins this election it means, God has abandoned USA...say hello to dark age the next 4 years, this is just the start, you ain't see nothing yet..Choose life precious USA folks, choose life over death...

    November 4, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • TC

      Obama chooses life every time he seeks to secure and protect the poor. Abortion is only a symptom of the problem.

      Making it illegal in all circimstances and forcing women to carry babies they cannot affor and do not want is not the answer. Do you have the strength of will to implement the real answer?

      How have other countries who place no/few restrictions on abortion lessend their abortions rates to a fraction of ours? Do we have the christian spirit to do the same, here?

      November 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      By your "logic" god abandoned the USA in 2008. So it must be god's will after all. I sign that you should put your bigotry to one side and vote for Obama as god has clearly indicated.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  16. adhd_fa

    Interesting how my post from earlier this afternoon seems to have disappeared. No mention of the ring Obama has worn for 30 years with Islamic symbols on it. Hmmmm

    November 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Nii

      Liar, are u a Mormon?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • TC

      You need to check that one out on snopes. There are plenty of close up shots that show the pattern on the ring. Not a muslim word in sight.

      It's pretty silly, if you think about it. Why in the world would a man living openly as a Christian for his entire adult life, PUBLICALLY wear a Muslin symbol on jewelry, anyway? Just to get you riled?

      November 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Mittology

      No, a moron

      November 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  17. Ruben Gonzales

    The hardest thing to accept as a Christian is that being a Christian is like climbing a slippery pole, you are always back sliding... We are all hypocrites, as we are an imperfect man or woman severing a perfect God... I find myself humbled to knowing that there are over 100 sins in the bible way to many to say, and not one is greater then another.... I am not perfect and sin everyday and have no room to judge any one nor would I want to carry that sin...

    November 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Severing god is a great idea – I recommend it to you all.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • redzoa

      "I find myself humbled to knowing that there are over 100 sins in the bible way to many to say, and not one is greater then another."

      Any moral framework, religious or otherwise, which would allegedly declare child slaughter equal to cheating on one's taxes is absurd on its face.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  18. credit information center

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    November 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  19. C.K.

    Here is one mark you seem to miss. God does not care as much about the words; but the actions. What a man does and not what he says is the measure which God holds all mean to. Obama is not a Christian, plain and simple. He can say he is; he can speak the words and meet with the greatest Christian leaders of our time, but that does not save a man. it is willfully following what God says in his word after accepting God as Lord and being forgiven. As far as I can tell; Obama actions are not Christian...

    November 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Which actions would they be? Wanting to help the poor and underprivileged – isn't that what jesus is reputed to have dictated? Only if Obama does it it's socialism.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • Nii

      So if we are judging actions then most Republicans are not plain and simple. Roe vs Wade was by Rep judge and it has never been overturned by a Rep judge or govt or Congress. And when God was talking about action he was talking about feeding the poor, clothing the naked and visiting the sick. Obama has done enough of that. And he has enough CHurch points if you want that too.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  20. Come to Jesus


    So, the world will soon get the leader it seems to be longing and waiting for. A powerful leader who will be popular, attractive, charismatic, and a great talker whose many words will not be chosen for truth, but for lies and deception. A leader who will kill many Christians and Jews . . .

    November 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see


      November 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Charles

      By their fruits ye shall know them..... In the last days many shall be decieved, How can Obama have fruits of hate and deception, and people don't see this?? Last days Baby..... and we'll be gone !!!!

      November 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
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About this blog

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