Obama’s Faith

There was quite a hubbub last week over President Obama’s faith after a Pew Forum survey showed that 1 in 5 Americans believe Obama to be a Muslim. I don’t know how so many Americans could be so misinformed as to believe such a thing, but there it is. In fact, Obama professes to be a Christian, and all the indications are that he is a progressive one at that. In other words, his Christian faith resembles more what you would find in one of the liberal mainline churches than what you would find in an evangelical church.

Case in point. Michael Patton links to an interview with Obama from 2004 in which the future president talks extensively about his beliefs. It’s really clear that he is not a Muslim. I thought what was most interesting about this interview was how much it delves into theology. The interviewer asked him his beliefs about Jesus, sin, heaven, hell, and a host of other issues. Here are some snippets, but you should really take a minute to read the whole piece.

“I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place.”

“I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.”

“Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.”

“I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell… I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup.”

“What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.”

There’s one final set of remarks that are revealing, and I’ll have to include the interviewer here:

FALSANI: Do you believe in sin?

OBAMA: Yes.

FALSANI: What is sin?

OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.

Like I said, he’s definitely not a Muslim. He identifies with a postmodern/liberalish version of Christianity. Read the rest here.

23 Responses to Obama’s Faith

  1. Freddy August 23, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    After reading those comments from the interview, it is hard to say that he is a Christian, even a liberal one. He flat out denies the exclusivity of Christ. Is that not considered heretical? If he doesn’t believe that “his” God would allow so many people to go to hell, he is not believing in the God of the Bible, and therefore he cannot be a Christian. Thoughts, anyone?

  2. Nate August 23, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    Perhaps the reason is because this country still, for a majority, views itself through the lens of being a “christian” nation. And, since our president is actively kowtowing and propping up Islam while seemingly dismissing Christian America, he is now being viewed in this light.

    Notice, I am not saying he is Muslim, merely noting that as the saying goes, “Image is everything.”

    Furthemore, a blind man could see that erecting the Mosque at the 9/11 site is Islam telling the US who owns them and not a bridge to better relations.

    Perhaps a better question would be this: Does Islam deserve 1st amendment privileges under our Constitution considering the mission statement of Islam (Koran) is to bring all people under Sharia Law and subject all lands to Allah?

    Islam would seem to be diametrically opposed to the US Constitution. While Christianity would desire that all people in the US get saved, it (the bible) would never usurp the authority of the Constitution to declare there is no other authorized religion or ban the proselytizing of any religion, like we see in countries that have ultimately been subjicated to Islam.

    In other words, is Islam a religion or a nation-state. Perhaps it is both.

  3. Tim Webb August 23, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    If you’ve read President Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope,” then you’ve aware that he discusses how he chose to be baptized as a Christian around the age of 30. Regardless of the church tradition he was in (that of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright), that was a pretty bold move.

    Reading this, I struggle to see much difference between the Christian faith espoused by President George W. Bush (who is a ‘liberal’ United Methodist) and President Obama. Their explanations of their understandings of the Christian faith are pretty much interchangeable.

  4. joetote August 23, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    In his own words from his book, the president makes it extremely clear where his loyalties lie! “ Quote from Obama’s book: Audacity of Hope: ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction..'”

    The man’s religion aside, his loyalties are clear and they are in fact extremely pro Muslim. Or could it be that as in his entire presidency so far, his own words in his own book are also just a bald faced lie?

  5. Derek August 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    I have a feeling that most of the people who said that he might be a closet Muslim are saying so out of frustration and see a pattern where he opposes Franklin Graham’s right to speak at the Pentagon, but fuzzily supports the Islamic Center at the WTC site in Manhattan. Then he quickly criticizes the killer of one abortion rights doctor but calls for caution after a soldier cries “Allah akbar!” and kills 13 people.

    People see a pattern of double standards w/r/t Christianity and Islam and it breeds resentment and a sense that his public statements are out of step with his decisions and biases. So we shouldn’t be surprised that people no longer trust what he has said about his religious convictions.

  6. Paula August 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    There’s not much of anything in that “statement of faith” that resembles orthodox Christianity. Although only God knows his heart, by his words, the president has declared himself a CINO (Christian in Name Only). If I had a friend with those beliefs, I would feel compelled to share the gospel with him and would fear for his eternal destiny.

    FWIW, I don’t think accusing him of being a Muslim is helpful. So what if he is? Either way, he’s an unsaved person, an enemy of God. Further, he is politically pro-Muslim. Whether that is simply ideological or it’s religiously-based will probably not make a lot of difference in the end. It just makes his accusers look rather hysterical.

  7. Nate August 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    This from Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, U.S. Army (Ret.), former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence on Islam and their 1st amendment privleges…

    “We need to remember that Islam is not a religion, but a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. Yet we protect the entire thing under the first amendment. Stop and think about it. Islam is a legal system, a political system, a financial system, a dress code, a moral code, and a social structure, yet we protect it as a first amendment issue. That’s our fundamental mistake. The second thing is, people have no understanding of Islam’s history or its basic tenets. Islam’s objective in America is to replace our Constitution with Sharia law.”

    Also:

    “When they defeated the nomadic tribes in Mecca, they built a mosque at the most holy site. The message was one of triumph, that Islam has now defeated you and Islam reigns supreme. They did the same thing at Córdoba [Spain]. They did it in Jerusalem. Same in Constantinople. The message was always one of conquest and victory.”

    See full interview at
    http://townhall.com/columnists/WThomasSmithJr/2010/08/23/fmr_lt_general_boykin_islam’s_primary_objective_is_conquest

  8. Nathan August 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Nate: it (the bible) would never usurp the authority of the Constitution to declare there is no other authorized religion or ban the proselytizing of any religion

    unless the religion doesn’t look Christian enough? There are plenty of people wanting to follow their god into homosexual marriage, but you want to ban it or at least stand behind an historical ban claiming that that’s the way it’s always been. (Well, maybe it’s always been wrong.) Also, you are concerned that allowing same-sex marriage would allow homosexuals to “proselytize,” no?

    Please don’t caterwaul about me supporting homosexuality. I am not. I’m supporting a clear stance regarding freedoms that all Americans should share. Saying that everyone is free to be non-Christian, but then not free to do non-Christian things is silly. Homosexuality causes you no more harm then a Buddhist prayer.

  9. Derek August 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    I do have to say, Tim Webb is right that Obama’s public comments about his faith are nearly interchangeable with George W. Bush’s. I voted for Bush both times because he was the least of three or four evils. But I must note that many Christians overlooked Bush’s frequent insistence that there are many paths to Salvation. Friends, that is not orthodox Christianity. GW Bush and Clinton and Obama are really not all that different than Thomas Jefferson and most presidents we’ve had, who attend church but lean much closer to a Unitarian theology than a Baptist one.

  10. Jordan August 23, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

    President Obama says: “there are many paths to the same place.”

    This is directly opposed to John 14:6.

    The comment that would condemn President Obama as a genuine CINO is his last quote: “What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded.” That is the saying of a legalist, not a Christian.

  11. Jordan August 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    Nathan, you are wrong that homosexuality doesn’t harm non-homosexuals. What about the bombardment of children in schools with the non-biblical worldview? (I admit, though, a simple solution: homeschool or enter private education.) Homosexuality would also harm children adopted by homosexuals, for they would grow up believing that homosexuality is not a sin. And if those children enter homosexuality (environment affects behavior), they are in just one more sin among countless others. I oppose homosexual marriage because I do not want to condemn certain children to a possible life of sin.

  12. Nate August 24, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    Nathan, what are you talking about? Are you insinuating that Christianity is subverting the Constitution by trying to keep homosexual marriage illegal, therefore violating the 1st amendment?

    How does that have anything to do with my post? Did you even read it? My post was comparing Christianity to Islam and the stated doctrine of each religion as it pertains to government.

    The sheer fact that you can find, in this thread, the idea to argue for homosexual marriage shows that you are an ardent supporter of homosexualtiy and not the subjective critic you have attempted to make yourself out to be.

  13. Nathan August 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Jordan, the same can be said of Hindus and atheists, no?. Are you going to ban them, too?

  14. Chris Price August 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    In Christianity Today, Barack Obama is quotes as saying, “I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and esurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful.”

    So is he saying that feeding the poor and healing is more important that the Redemption provided by the rich red blood of Jesus. In referring to this he just said that salvific act of grace bestowed upon a devious and spiritually derelict mankind is great, But Most importantly, are these other social actions of compassion and ministry.

  15. Nathan August 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Nate: Does Islam deserve 1st amendment privileges under our Constitution considering the mission statement of Islam (Koran) is to bring all people under Sharia Law and subject all lands to Allah?

    I consider banning gay marriage as subjugating non-Christians to Biblical laws.

    Again, I am not an ardent supporter of homosexuality, but of freedom of religion. See http://www.dennyburk.com/the-faith-of-katy-perry/#comment-60545

  16. Nate August 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    “I consider banning gay marriage as subjugating non-Christians to Biblical laws.”

    Nathan: then you should not have a problem with murder, theft, adultery, etc., because they are all biblical laws as well.

    Your logic is flawed. The United States is not a theocracy, though that is exactly what Islam is.

    Furthermore, homosexuality and homosexual marriage is not a religion and does not fall under 1st amendment privileges.

  17. Derek August 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    All laws are rooted in some kind of moral framework. Even the founders’ belief in the freedom of religious expression is rooted in a Judeo-Christian concept, that people cannot and should not be forced to worship in a particular manner.

  18. Charlton Connett August 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    Nathan,

    I’m sure that ancient Japanese, Chinese, Nordic, Greek, and Roman cultures would be shocked to find out that they were “subjugating non-Christians to Biblical laws” by denying the practice of homosexual marriage. (Not that I’m aware of any homosexuals arguing for “equal rights” in any of those cultures, oh well.)

    You could have, potentially, made a more powerful case if you had gone with polygamy instead of homosexuality. The fact that you chose homosexual marriage does beg for one to ask the question: “Why?” Nate makes a valid point in saying that your attempt to introduce the issue of homosexual marriage into this thread does smack of advocacy. However, assuming that you are not trying to be an advocate, you have also completely failed to understand that the functional definition of marriage in Western civilization is, in part, “one man and one woman.” Thus, no one is being denied any “religious liberty” or is having any particular religion forced upon them by denying marriage to any other arrangement, instead they are having a particular culture forced upon them. There is no protection of culture granted in the constitution, nor is there the right to assert that you do not need to conform to socially accepted morality as long as that morality is codified in law. (Hence old laws that made it illegal to sneeze in public, that forbid the manufacture or sell of alcohol on certain days, or that did any number of things were perfectly legal under the constitution. Such laws reflected certain public nuisances that have since changed, or they reflected an accepted morality in an area.)

    As to the article, I don’t doubt that the President considers himself a Christian. But, what he would mean with that word and what I would mean by that word would likely have vastly different connotations.

    Why do more American’s today think he is a Muslim than when he entered office? Could it be his highly publicized comments that America is not a Christian nation? Perhaps this shift is because of the way he has changed the language coming out of the White House, so that now we are seen as at war with something-we-cannot-name, instead of “Radical Islam” or “Islamic Terrorism,” or it could be any number of other things. This issue certainly demonstrates that the administration has not been successful in crafting the image of President Obama they wanted.

  19. Dan Allison August 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    No one ever doubted Jimmy Carter’s Christianity. If a president of the United States wants to make a point clear, it’s easy for him to do that. I’m pleased that Obama has read Niebuhr, but many non-Christians have done that. I don’t think reading a book or attending a church makes one a Christian. Of course, it could all be cleared up if Obama simply told us when and where he was baptized.

  20. Nathan August 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    Please reread what Nate posted. He certainly said that US citizens are free to exercise the religion of their choice, Christian, non-Christian or otherwise, because US law has been heavily influenced by Christians. The natural result of exercising one’s freedom to follow a non-Christian religion is that people will want to do non-Christian things. Honestly, that scares me. So, I do advocate limiting people’s freedom. AND I do think the best law for me to live by is the Bible. Nate and I are probably on the same page regarding what we ought to do and not do. I want to look to Christ and follow Him, along with Nate and other Christians. That’s great for me, for Nate and for Christians. What I don’t understand is using the law to force people to conform to that (even a shadow of that). Obviously, non-Christian things can be heinous, so I don’t want people to do anything they want. I draw the line at the point of balancing people’s rights. People should be free to do ANYTHING so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of another. My reason to outlaw murder and theft has little to do with my adherence to the Bible, but rather because it infringes on another’s right to life and property.

    My advocacy isn’t for a particular action but for fair treatment without bias toward a particular religious view or cultural stance. In America, gay couples deserve just as much civic support as straight couples because they are citizens — no other reason.

    My reason for making the original comment here in this thread are 1) Nate’s comment indicated that American government equals an openness to plurality but Muslims are advocating for a closed government that only includes their laws. I think that what Nate’s objects in his Muslim scenario is what he himself is advocating (at least in part) when it comes to banning gay marriage. 2) Nate had dropped the conversation that we were having in the last Katy Perry thread, so I thought this would be a good way to bring it up. That thread is so much more important to me than what to ban or allow legally. http://www.dennyburk.com/the-faith-of-katy-perry/#comment-60545

  21. julie August 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Barak Obama was named Barry Soetero at birth. Now he has changed both his first and last names to muslim names. His biological father was a muslim. the muslim considers any child born to a muslim to be a muslim, because, unlike Christianity, a muslim is born a muslim. A muslim must convert from islam in order to be considered a Christian. In doing so, there is a price on their head. Obama has several family members who are muslim. It is considered moral to lie in islam, if it will promote the cause of islam. When he took the oath of office, and laid his hand on the Bible, he bungled his oath. Later he took the oath again, this time without the Bible. These are just a few of the reasons that people question his faith. One of these alone may not be compelling, but it all adds up. you do the math.

  22. Eric August 30, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Nathan, I believe you are missing the point that Nate put so eloquently. In western culture we define marriage between ‘one man , one woman’. Nothing is stopping a gay man from marrying a woman and vice versa. Equal protection. The law shouldn’t differentiate what your sexual orientation is, just what marriage is.

    Now, if you want government to legislate emotion, which I think you are arguing, that is a slippery slope….

  23. Nathan August 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Let’s say (for the sake of argument) that religion in “western culture” is defined as worshiping any golden likeness. It can be a golden calf, a golden bird, a golden man, whatever you want. Now, since you don’t want to worship a golden likeness, but rather a spirit being, what you want really isn’t a religion. So, your organization won’t be given any preferential treatment (like tax exemptions). No one will keep you from calling yourself a religion. No one will keep you from meeting together. After all, in the US we are free, but you’ll have to pay taxes just like any other organization and you won’t have complete control over your membership rules like a religious organization. You’re free, but by definition you can’t enjoy the freedom like a real religion.

    What you are advocating is not much different than the above and it’s completely disingenuous. Stand behind your definitions, but there are tides pushing in the opposite direction that want to define you out of America. Instead of fighting the power struggle, I think it’s better to allow all people to live the way they want and create laws that maintain a peaceable society.

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