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Obama Brushes Off Critics Who Question His Faith

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By ADELLE M. BANKS
c. 2011 Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama spoke at length on Thursday (Feb. 3) about the daily contours of his Christian faith, brushing off the skeptics who question the authenticity of his beliefs.
“My Christian faith … has been a sustaining force for me over these last few years, all the more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time,” Obama told thousands of political leaders, diplomats and religious officials at the National Prayer Breakfast.
“We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but whether we are being true to our conscience and true to our God.”
The president’s remarks come in the wake of polls that showed Americans harbor persistent questions about Obama’s faith, with one in four thinking he is a Muslim, and 43 percent unable to say which faith he follows.
Thursday’s speech reflects a renewed emphasis on faith in the president’s public remarks, as when he spoke at Christmas of the birth of Christ being “a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians,” and said the Christmas story “guides my Christian faith.”
As the son of parents who largely shunned organized religion, Obama said he was influenced by clergy of the civil rights movement, including the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths.
As a community organizer working with churches on Chicago’s South Side, Obama said, “I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace him as my Lord and Savior.”
Obama said he is supported by the prayers of well-known religious leaders and countless unknown grass-roots supporters. He has prayed in the Oval Office with “pastor friends” like megachurch leaders Joel Hunter of Florida and Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas, and enjoys “consistent respite and fellowship” in the chapel at the Camp David presidential retreat.
He said his children’s godmother has organized prayer circles across the nation to pray for him.
“Once I started running for president and she heard what they were saying about me on cable, she felt the need to pray harder,” he said.
“By the time I was elected president, she says, ‘I just couldn’t keep up on my own. I was having to pray eight, nine times a day just for you.’ So she enlisted help from around the country.”
Obama said he prays in the morning for “strength to do right” and at bedtime, “I wait on the Lord and I ask him to forgive me my sins.”
He also joked that his prayers have shaped his life as a father and husband.
“Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance, where there will be boys,” he said of his older daughter. “Lord, have that skirt get longer as she travels to that dance.”
Obama was greeted outside the Washington Hilton by a small group of protesters who claim that some members of the evangelical organization that sponsors the annual breakfast support harsh anti-gay laws in Uganda.
Obama did not mention the controversy, as he did at last year’s breakfast when he condemned as “odious” proposed legislation in Uganda to impose the death penalty on HIV-positive gays and lesbians.
The bill, which has not been voted on, was drafted by a Ugandan lawmaker with ties to The Family, the evangelical organization that sponsors the breakfast. On Jan. 26, prominent gay-rights activist David Kato was murdered in his Kampala home after he and other “known homos” were displayed on the front pages of a Ugandan newspaper.
“It is an absolute affront to my faith to say they stand for Christianity and then to stand for hate and bigotry as well,” said one of the protesters, Joey Heath, a second-year student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.
(Richard Yeakley contributed to this report.)



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:43 am


Obama’s comments were probably necessary in a practical political sense, but that merely illustrates the dark pit into which this nation has sunk, that anyone, from president to pauper, has to establish his or her religious credentials to anyone else, ever. The Constitution explicitly states that there shall be NO religious qualifications for public office.
The proper response to the yahoos who have become ascendant in American politics is, “My beliefs, if any, are none of your business, you pseudo-pious busybody. You can make all the loud religious noises you want if you seriously think that will impress God. I’m not impressed at all.”



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Sandy

posted February 4, 2011 at 11:03 am


Heretic_for_Christ, I completely agree with your statement. As a Christian, it warms my heart to hear the President speak about what his faith means to him, but as an American I am appalled that he has to share these feelings in response to critics who question what his spiritual beliefs are. He has said from day one that he is a Christian. The point is – it doesn’t matter!! I would have voted for Obama if he were a Muslim or a Buddhist or whatever. He’s a good man. We should all be praying for him, whether we agree with him or not.



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pagansister

posted February 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm


Actually, what business is it of anyone’s what faith any elected person is? None. The faith or lack of it has nothing to do with their job, unless they have been elected to be the religious leader of something! Even IF President Obama was a Muslim, so what? I think he is what he says he is—a Christian, it makes do difference in his decisions regarding this country, IMO. As mentioned above, there is no religious requirement of the person running for president of the USA. And yes, it is a shame he has to proclaim it once in a while!



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cknuck

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm


A public personality should be required to be beyond reproach and for the public often time questioning the person is the only way to measure their integrity, purpose, and who they really are. Obama’s answer did not seem to me as a brush off but fairly appropriate, I suspect the writer of this article purposefully provoked readers and solicited those predictable anti-religious folk. Newly done, well played.



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cknuck

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm


A public personality should be required to be beyond reproach and for the public often time questioning the person is the only way to measure their integrity, purpose, and who they really are. Obama’s answer did not seem to me as a brush off but fairly appropriate, I suspect the writer of this article purposefully provoked readers and solicited those predictable anti-religious folk. Newly done, well played.



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cknuck

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm


A public personality should be required to be beyond reproach and for the public often time questioning the person is the only way to measure their integrity, purpose, and who they really are. Obama’s answer did not seem to me as a brush off but fairly appropriate, I suspect the writer of this article purposefully provoked readers and solicited those predictable anti-religious folk. Newly done, well played.



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cknuck

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm


A public personality should be required to be beyond reproach and for the public often time questioning the person is the only way to measure their integrity, purpose, and who they really are. Obama’s answer did not seem to me as a brush off but fairly appropriate, I suspect the writer of this article purposefully provoked readers and solicited those predictable anti-religious folk. Newly done, well played.



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cknuck

posted February 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm


A public personality should be required to be beyond reproach and for the public often time questioning the person is the only way to measure their integrity, purpose, and who they really are. Obama’s answer did not seem to me as a brush off but fairly appropriate, I suspect the writer of this article purposefully provoked readers and solicited those predictable anti-religious folk. Newly done, well played.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted February 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm


cknuck,
The Gotcha-Captcha mechanism is very slow, as well as very annoying. I would wait at least 5-10 minutes before reposting a message.
As for what you said… No. Inquiring into the ethics of a public figure is one thing; inquiring into that person’s religious beliefs is another. The problem is not how this article was written, but the unceasing brain-dead chatter from the full-time Obama-haters, questioning his citizenship, his loyalty to America, and also his religion. Their rumor-mongering and hate-mongering reveal that it is their own supposed patriotism and religious that must be questioned.



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cknuck

posted February 5, 2011 at 12:22 am


While I agree there is the element of “Obama-haters” I also believe in scrutiny of any public figure. Religion is not out of bounds when it comes to the public’s comfort level concerning any one in such a important position. Here’s the most important qualifier for such scrutiny, the politician opens the door for such scrutiny when they campaign the religious communities. In their efforts to convince religious communities that they have their best interest at heart they attempt to sway and swoon a particular group. Obama is not guilt free of such tactics and in such efforts he opens the door for scrutiny from members of religious communities. If you cannot see that then you may not want to disturb the momentum of desired thought patterns concerning the topic. Thanks for the heads up on the Captcha mechanism.



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Heretic_for_Christ

posted February 5, 2011 at 9:29 am


cknuck,
I agree with you that politicians who raise the subject of their religion can be questioned on it. What I dislike is, first, that we have somehow come to a place where politicians and candidates feel they must present their religious credentials at all; and second, that the Obama haters are not really scrutinizing his faith but manufacturing and disseminating their own paranoid delusions about him.



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Lynne

posted February 6, 2011 at 5:37 am


There are numerous Believers in this country who do not hate the president but have big questions concerning his actions, particularly toward Israel. If the US of America does not support Israel, we are headed to deep water and we better get ourselves and those we love prepared. The Bible clearly says that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse them……..Genesis 12



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cknuck

posted February 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm


Not to defend Obama, I personally am not a fan, but concerning Israel we can bless them by reminding them that along with great power comes great responsibility.



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pagansister

posted February 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm


So Lynn, the Bible is supposed to tell the USA what to do? It’s a little more complicated than 2000 years ago.



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cknuck

posted February 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm


pagan I disagree about the world being more complicated than 2000 years ago and the bible can speak to how we should live and treat each other. But blessing Israel is not the last thing the bible speaks to about either Israel or how to treat people.



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