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.”

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. diamond

    I dunno what God has to say to my friends that have had their part-time hours cut by 15% so their employers can get out of OFFERING them healthcare.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  2. WVLady63

    Muslims don't change their faiths.......

    November 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Rachael

    I do not have any doubts that Obama and Romney have a personal faith that they believe in fully and that it is Christian. The question comes into my mind-Is Christianity really going in the right direction-the very foundation of our leaders faith which is part of their own guiding force to me is wrought with inconsistencies within itself. The 3 major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all wrought with inconsistencies. None of these faiths to me seem to be following a path of anything but self-defeating destructiveness. I think a new and improved approach to understanding the Abrahamic religions should incorporate the sciences. It should be discussed as history. We should progress beyond what was written down between 600-300BC about humanity of the Levantine region in the 2000BC-300BC timeline. A scientific approach to the Biblical history could radically alter the views that are shaping the world today with a progressive approach.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  4. steve c

    Definition of "a darn shame". That Stanley Ann Dunham didn't have available to her the same reproductive "rights" that a woman has today. I wonder had they been available, would she have availed herself of them? One can only hope that she would have.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  5. debwid

    Please keep this in mind.... God is in control today just as he will be tomorrow. The outcome of this election won't be a surprise to God. It will be his will for whoever is in the Whitehouse. Just pray that we all can accept and come to terms with it and that we can live together peacefully afterwards.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Scott


      November 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  6. dadguy


    aka, a tall steaming load of bull.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  7. Judith Brown

    Jesus welcomes Obama but he only uses Christianity for his act to sway subordinate minded people that believe what he says. If you are the muslim everyone knows you are why not claim it? A phony and a fake to this degree will not protect our best interest as the UNITED states. Keyword we are in this together. This current president will not look after the people's best interest. Hollywood doesn't know better than small business that runs the country. BIG GOVERNMENT WILL END OUR COUNTRY. The economy and our strength is our best asset being threatened. Support and protect us and our embassies. Please care about your family and elders and vote for Mitt Romney today. GOD BLESS AMERICA

    November 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Odysseusv

      I am a small business owner and ceo. You mean giant corporations will end the country as we know it don't you. Big gov't pales in comparison to the money the big corps throw at the feet of politicians. Big oil, big insurance, big monopolies they ar4e stiffling the growth and innovation of the american spirit. The running off after they made their billions and hiding in tax shelters in the Caymans and Singapore with no capital gains taxes to pay to help the system that made them mea-rich , but if you want to delude yourself into believing big corporations have your best interest in mind then continue to support the the guys they work for!!

      November 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  8. Gonzodon

    Change? On his first full day in office, he signed an Executive Order allowing federal tax dollars to be used by organization's world-wide to promote abortion. He then signed an Executive Order forcing insurance companies providing health insurance to federal employees to recognize gay couples as "married".

    The man's faith is a sham.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  9. Truth

    Obama has been the most notorious Baby Killer in US history. His track record on Abortion is 2nd to none. From Partial Birth to Full term babies lying alone to die. You tell me how a Christian can allow those cruel acts to happen?

    November 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Huebert

      Where is your evidence for this claim?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      How can most christians vote for a politician who sends our boys overseas to slaughter and be slaughtered?

      November 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • LBP

      reading these comments and nasty discourse makes my heart heavy for our country. i am weary, and I'm sure God is as well. it's shameful the level of hate shown here and lack of thought it takes to be so hateful. for those of you who do pray, i hope you'll do so for yourselves and all of our citizens to open their hearts and spirits to God's will instead of human reactions.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • midwest rail

      @ Huebert – there is no evidence to give, but that won't stop contemporary Christians from perpetuating a lie if it serves their political purpose.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  10. Obamarrhoids

    Obama has gravitated towards a more radical version of Islam since he's been in office.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      If that were really true, we'd be hearing about it from a different source than you.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  11. Adrian

    I find it hilarious that evangelical christians are saying that obama is not a christian because he does not do this or that. not many of evangelicals follow the golden rule. on the contrary, they hide behind their bible to excuse their bigotry. While Jesus hated no one and have sympathy for all, modern christians are quick to judge, quick to hate, and quick to act holier than thou. Just an FYI, I am a gay christian.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Michael Robinson Gainesville FL

      Just FYI, you are a gay fake, because there is no jesus or god, they are fake.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Michael

      Leviticus 20:13

      November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Leviticus 20 also calls for the execution of adulterers, Wizards and anyone who speaks ill of their parents, not to mention the exile of any man who has se/x with his wife during her period.
      Have you put together a stoning mob to kill divorcees?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Michael

      Stoning? Nah. It is not my place. God will judge us all in time.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      But God commands you to kill them in the Leviticus chapter you reference.
      If you ignore that part of the scripture, why do you adhere to others?

      November 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Michael

      Because Jesus said we are not the ones to judge others. During Jesus' life, he changed many things from the Old Testament, but he did not change Leviticus 20:13. He did reiterate the 10 commandments and gave us a few others.

      My comment about Leviticus 20:13 is meant to help guide, not to criticize or judge anyone. The way I see it, we have two choices to make: go down the straight and narrow path along with the few, or go down the wide path with the many... I choose to go with the few and, hopefully, others will decide to take that path as well.

      God bless you.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So Jesus says to uphold Leviticus 20:13, but not Leviticus 20:9 ?

      November 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Michael

      Again, Jesus changed many things like "Eye for an Eye" to "Turn the other cheek." You specifically mention Leviticus 20:9, but it does not say one should put to death those that speak ill about their parents. In fact, I don't think anywhere in the bible does it say it is ok for man to kill another man (or woman). God is the one that will deal the punishment. It is not up to man, which is clearly stated in Exodus 20:13.

      The stoning you refered to earlier has to do with Israel mixing with Molech (Lev. 20:2). The stoning is man's punishment allowed by God, but it does not say death by stoning. The death part is God's (Lev 20:3, Ex. 33:20).

      November 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Leviticus 20:2
      "Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND SHALL STONE HIM WITH STONES."

      God isn't going do the killing – God is commanding the people of the land to do the killing.
      Samuel 15:3
      "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
      Numbers 31:17
      "Now kill all the boys [innocent kids]. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."
      Psalm 137:8-9
      "O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us- he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."

      Isaiah 13:9 and 16
      "See, the day of the Lord is coming
      —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
      to make the land desolate
      and destroy the sinners within it."

      "Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished."

      November 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Michael

      You are misrepresenting the meaning of what the Bible says, and it's unfortunate. If you take passages out of context, you can make your own story. Even better, we can both take the same passages out of context and come up with different stories, none of which would be true. This is true not just for the Bible, but with anything else written or said. That's why politicians and the media are the way they are, most always misrepresenting, to their advantage, what is said or written.

      Again, Leviticus 20:2 does not say go kill them by stoning them. Their death is spelled out in the next verse... "And I will set my face against that man..." Exodus 33:20 says "for there shall no man see me, and live." The Bible is very clear when God has commanded someone be put to death, and when He's done it himself, as well as the reasons why. It's not like He hasn't given people many opportunities to behave as He's commanded. During Noah's time, He gave mankind over 100 years to change. He's given mankind over 2000 years since Jesus first came, so don't you think He hasn't been extremely merciful on us.

      When God has commanded His servants to kill it was because He was punishing those who sinned against Him. Again, HE commanded it, so it's His punishment, not man's. Nowhere in the Bible does it say it's ok for a man to punish another man with death of his own accord. Those who did it WITHOUT the command from God were also punished (i.e. Gen. 4: 10-15).

      God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for not obeying His statutes, chiefly that of Leviticus 20:13.

      Once again, there is still time to turn from our wordly ways and get on the narrow path and avoid God's wrath. In the meantime, I bid you peace.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Michael

      I realize I did not specifically address the passages you referred to in your post. I still stand by my statement that nowhere in the Bible does it say that it's ok for man to kill man. God in the past commanded that it be done as His punishment, or delivered the punishment Himself, but never has He given permission to man to kill of their own accord.

      Leviticus 20:2 – Already discussed.

      1 Samuel 15:3 – Order from God. 1 Sam 15:2 – "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek..."

      Numbers 31:17 – God's order to Moses

      Psalm 137:8-9 – This is an imprecation (cursing) Psalm. Taken as a whole, the Psalm talks about the yearning for Jerusalem, and cursing their captors, not about going out and killing people.

      Isaiah 13:9 and 16 – Isaiah was a prophet, so he's announcing the coming of the Lord, the destruction of sin, and the punishment of sinners. It also talks about Babylon and the destruction of it. Babylon is the world as it is, not what is now Iraq. Revelation 17 is another prophecy referring to Babylon, and is very specific about God's loathing of sin. Rev. 17:5 "And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH".

      So, does God abhor sin? You bet, and the Bible is very clear about what happens to those who sin, especially those whose sin is considered an abomination.

      November 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  12. Michael Robinson Gainesville FL

    They are praying to christ jesus for the words that Obama needs to say? jesus is fake, who do they think they are praying to, and what do they plan to accomplish talking to an imaginary friend?

    November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  13. Hjazeen hjazeen

    The allegation that Obama is a Muslim isn't true.... And neither is the allegation that he wants to make America a Muslim nation. The fact of the matter that Bush sr. And Bush junior were sooooo buddy buddy with their Saudi friends makes them the real danger to America and to the American people.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  14. Mike

    Obama's faith has changed?
    Isn't that simply the liberals version of "flip flopping?"

    Romeny is the only one who flip flops. Obama evolves, or changes.

    Funny how obviously one sided, and partisan, CNN can be sometimes.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  15. K from AZ

    Comrade Obama's god is 'government'! He's not a Christian, he's an 'idolator', who obviously doesn't take the Second Commandment seriously!

    November 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      As President, his job is to uphold the principles of teh Consti/tution, NOT the Bible.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Scott

      Actually you touched on BoBo's real "god", the Unholy Trinity, Marx/Lenin/Mao.


      November 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  16. Danny

    I don't think that as a Christian he should support gay marriage. That is all!

    November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Huebert

      I don't think, as a Christian, you should support discrimination. That is all.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Reality

      So you admit it, you don't think.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  17. WatrGrrl

    The premise that Obama is a Christian is simply not true. Obama is a Muslim. Obama is a Muslim sympathizer. Obama is an apologist for Muslims and Obama wants to see America fall and become a Muslim theocracy within a generation per Muslim birth rate.. Obama cancelled the National Day of Prayer "so people won't be offended." Tell me, how does THAT work? When he then invited Muslim Imams to the White House, OUR nation's White House I was offended. And I daresay I'm not the only person that was offended in this nation. Oh, and Obama has stated that the United States of America is NOT a Christian nation. Does that mean, for all his hypocritical lies and posturing that, in his narcissistic delusion, Obama already is beginning to believe that America is becoming a Muslim nation? I guess if enough Americans are stupid enough to vote Obama in for a second term, he may have his wish and achieve what his masters programmed him to do: destroy the foundations of the United States of America and replace them with Sharia.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Romnesia

      What on earth are you talking about? Do you get all your information from Faux News? The Bushes have more contact with Muslims (and I don't see a problem with that) and who ever mentioned that?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • K from AZ


      November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • gf

      Dimitry Medvedev came to the White House. Does that mean Obama is a Russian too? Oh no, a Russian Muslim, what is this country coming to!? (sarcasm)

      Obama meets with influential people. It seems fitting he'd invite Muslim imams since they are leaders among Muslim communities. And he wants to all with Muslims, not make them our enemy ... quite contrary to the work of Republicans.

      Stop being so prejudicial towards religions and accept that we do have freedom here, and President Obama (who's given no 'real' reason for anyone but crazy prejudicial people to believe otherwise) is NOT a Muslim. Have a thought of your own for once based on real observation, not based on prejudice and hate propaganda.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • xuaerdub

      I suppose the republican party has some photo chopped ID cards to this effct. Throughout this past 4 years the republican party has made us wade through the dangedest bunch of synthesized kra_p. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of my time fact checking this garbage. Is this the way they are going to treat us if they do assume power?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • JQA

      It's probably fruitless to reply, since clearly you know all the "facts" and don't need phony things like researched journalism and, most certainly, not someone you do not know challenging your "facts." Yet, maybe when nobody among your like minded friends is watching, you might want to verify your claim of the President canceling the prayer breakfast. Should that prove to be untrue, you might even check into some of the other "facts" about the President being a Muslim. The article you dismiss might be a good place to start.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  18. LinCA

    I'm holding out hope that Mr. Obama, during his second term, will reveal that he really is an atheist.

    I suspect he won't. Not because he isn't one, or because he doesn't want to reveal that he is one, but because it may affect the odds of the next Democratic contender when (s)he runs for President in 2016.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  19. Kathryn

    Saying it's one thing. Living it is another. Obama shows no evidence of being a Christian.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • nik green

      True. There is nobody in US political life who can be regarded as a true Christian. The system does not permit such.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Romnesia


      November 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • gf

      Like professing that he's a Christian? You're saying that's not enough? What are you looking for? Ahh, I know, you want to see some sort of works-oriented Christian faith? Maybe the Bible requires that he goes to a specific denominational church every Sunday? Please, do give the examples you're looking for.

      Also, I'd like to see those examples of anybody in politics. Or, let's just start with you. What are examples you give of this that somehow makes you a Christian, if indeed you are one?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • emaleroland

      all you need to know about Barry is inscribed on the ring on his left hand – It's the Shahada

      November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Odysseusv

      Let's see evidence: Good father! Good husband! Put's other people's interests ahead of his own! wants to end wars started by egomaniacs! Thinks before he speaks! Sounds more christlike than most televangelist that cheat on their wives, or priests that that molest young boys, or pastors that spew hate and intolerance! Who's more christlike here??

      November 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  20. Man Previously Known as Barry

    Obama is so clueless no-one is even claiming that he is the anti-Christ. Most presidents in recent memory were charged with that at one point or another in their career. But not Obama, he is too inept...

    November 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Reality

      Apparently, you don't know the evangelicals I know.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Man whose name is really Willard

      Obama is more a Christian than Romney. Romney is waiting for his own "planet" after he leaves this world. Yeah, that's Christian. I'm sure THAT'S in the Bible soewhere. If Caldwell, a mega church pastor, accepts Obama as a Christian that carries much more weight than some cranky blogger on CNN.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
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.