October 7th, 2007
05:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama addresses evangelical megachurch

Obama was scheduled to address a church audience in South Carolina on Sunday morning

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama is increasingly invoking his Christian faith on the campaign trail, and on Sunday morning the Democratic presidential candidate will become a preacher of sorts by addressing an evangelical megachurch in Greenville.

Obama will speak to the Redemption World Outreach Center, which describes itself as "a Spirit-filled Church, characterized by dynamic worship, supernatural miracles, and relevant ministry for all ages ...
reaching people from all walks of life." Obama's campaign calls the appearance "an opportunity for the Senator to have a morning of fellowship with South Carolinians."

The church has 4,200 seats. Members of the church said Sunday morning that they have a total congregation of over 10,000.

It's rare for Democratic candidates to venture to the traditionally conservative Upstate region of South Carolina, which is characterized politically by church-going Republican primary voters living in and around Greenville and Spartanburg.

But Obama's visit here is not surprising given his campaign's recent efforts in South Carolina to reach out to Christian voters, including the state's large African-American population that makes up an estimated 50 percent of Democratic primary voters. The state campaign is in the midst of promoting Obama's values through a grassroots effort called "40 Days of Faith and Family," which is reaching out to primary voters through gospel concerts and a series of faith forums.

Last weekend, Obama attended but did not speak at two churches in Columbia, one predominantly black and one predominantly white. At a town hall meeting in Aiken on Saturday, Obama was introduced by a pastor who led the crowd of 2,400 in a brief prayer. There are times on the stump when Obama even sounds like a pastor himself, referencing New Testament phrases and sometimes saying "I'm not gonna preach to ya!" when emphasizing a point to his audience.

According to the religion web site Beliefnet and its "God-o-Meter" tool that measures "God-talk" in the presidential campaigns, Obama invokes religion more than any of his Democratic competitors.

Obama is set to speak during the 9 a.m. service.

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- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. laurinda,ny

    Obama should join the ranks with Sharpton and Jackson. He would be much better at it. A potential president he is not.

    October 7, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  2. laurinda,ny

    If we leave our troops in Iraq this ridiculous war will never end. We need our troops home to protect our own country. Bush really wanted the oil, but they are fighting him for it. He will not stop his madness until he has accomplished his missiom impossible.

    October 7, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  3. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Obama is not increasingly talking about his faith. CNN is just increasingly talking about Obama talking about his faith. Didn't you guys do a faith forum with solidad o'brien?

    October 7, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. Brian Tampa, FL

    If he was Republican the very people who worship this empty suit would be screaming about pandering to the right wing! Funny how you can find justifications when its your guy.

    October 7, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  5. Blayze Kohime, Columbus, OH

    A Church that allows a political leader to speak at their religious service has forgotten the real meaning of religion. And they have certainly forgotten the values which this country was built on. Such things fly in the face of church and state separation as dictated by such great deists as Thomas Jefferson.

    October 7, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. Peter, Wausau, WI

    As a Republican, I'm unlikely to vote for Obama, but it's wonderful to know that he's motivated by his faith in God and Christ.

    October 7, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Will - MIami, Fl

    Hey CNN, Why do you post an article every time one of your favorite candidates sneezes near a crowd yet almost never post an article about Congressman Ron Paul? He spoke to a crowd of approximately 1500 yesterday in Nashville. Yea, Thompson's stomping grounds. He didn't have to ask for appluase either. From what I understand, the crowd was on fire and cheered him throughout the speech. This wasn't some group that had to be told months in advance either. Ron Paul didn't invite them, they all got togeather and invited HIM! You need to start covering this top-tier candidate. If you don't, after he wins the primaries you're going to look very foolish trying to explain why it was such a suprise to the "experts".

    October 7, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. J. McKinney SW MO

    I hope Obama is the Christian he says he is, rather than the Muslim his father and step-father were. Religion instilled in a child usually lasts a lifetime. And a radical Muslim (posing as a Christian) making it to President of the US would just about be the end of our beloved US, and our freedoms.

    October 7, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. Joseph, Gary,IN

    No Barack, don't do it! Don't conform to the stereotypical political candidate profile of spewing religious jargon and pandering to the God-fearing hypocrites who rally around issues that has nothing to do with solving America's core problems! If you continue to do this, I'll label you as "ONE OF THEM" and you may not get my vote.

    October 7, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    If Christianity is the predominant "opiate of the people" in America, then Obama's preaching to these junkies is the sort of pimping that presumptively disqualifies him from holding any office, including the one he holds.

    October 7, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Christian, Tampa FL

    I'm concerned that some people will say that it's a bad thing that Obama talks about faith so often.

    I do not believe that it's a bad thing in the least. It's a smart thing, and it shows his sensitivity to the values and culture of the voters he's reaching out to. He has demonstrated that he's not a fanatic of any kind, and so it's good for him to be confident in his Christian faith that is a part of who he is. Faith, of some kind or another, is also a part of what America is.

    October 7, 2007 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. Garvin Jameson

    Finally, a political candidate of immense dimensions – you can secure the democratic principles of a citizenry, while espousing the general morality of faith, promoting doctrines that keep our society safe, hopeful and appreciative of the intrinsic human worth of our fellow citizen. All these values could not be more politically consistent. What a leader!

    October 7, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. Greg, Brattleboro, VT

    A complete human being, Obama. Whatever people will say against this man is just nonsense!

    We must leave the era of darkness and take the right track with Obama as our leader. Don't be afraid of the man because he is what you can see. He does not pretend like the others with their leopard spotted skin hidden under the fake picture nicely painted my biased MSM. What a shame. You can make someone president but never a good president. The worst is that we are unable to learn from our mistakes.

    October 7, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. Sarah, Oxford MS

    Invoking religion is one thing, but many of these mega-churches preach hate, intolerance, and a dominionist philosophy. I hope Obama is keeping that in mind when deciding which churches to visit, because speaking at some of them would be no different than speaking at a "Wahhabist" madressa or a KKK rally.

    October 7, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    I just think that this could backfire. While it's fine for someone to have their own religious beliefs, I've had enough of our president forcing his beliefs on me. And the more Obama preaches, the more nervous it makes me.

    October 7, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Caren

    This is news because??????????????
    Obama is just like Edwards, they are feeling the pressure. He attends all these churches but when he announced he was running for President he was too cowardly to allow his own minister to be onstage with him & others. That's when I lost respect for Obama. He showed his "Peter" moment of denying his spiritual leader. He asked him to come to Springfield & pray with him before the announcement & then asked him to stay behind the curtain because of what some in his campaign considered controversial cooments (he has muslim friends).
    In essence he told his minister I want you to pray for me & then I want you to go & hide until it's all over. Yet this is the man who Obama said he gives credit for helping him find himself.
    If you will do that to your minister who helped save you how strong is your backbone standing up the despots of the world? Weak as water, weak as water.

    October 7, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. D. NY, NY

    Why is he catering to these people?

    October 7, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Daniel, NY

    The latest SC poll has Obama trailing Clinton by 7, but finally beating her among black voters. Poll link here.

    October 7, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  19. VanReuter NY NY

    Another example of how little coverage CNN gives Barack. lol

    October 7, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. A Believer, Manchester, VT

    It's high time the Democrats went after the GOP on faith issues. Senator Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ (Congregational) which prides itself on its openness and social action.

    While strongly supporting the idea of separation of church and state that have kept this country going for 231 years, faith, so long as it isn't used improperly, is certainly germane to the process.

    Contrast Senator Obama with some of the right wing "holier than thou" folks who, in far too many numbers, seem to end up disgraced for moral and fiancial transgression.

    Senator Obama is to be commended for having a "big tent" of supporters.

    October 7, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Christianity is the "opiate of the people" and Obama's pandering to these addicts disqualifies him from any office, including the one he holds.

    October 7, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Michael Guinn, Port Hueneme, CA

    I am so glad to see Senator Obama going into this church! I belong to a Charismatic congregation and I have been a supporter of the Senator since he announced he was running.
    He wants to reach ALL Americans-end the divisions that have been created and move forward in Unity!

    Got Hope? OBAMA 08!

    October 7, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Michael James -- Illinois

    I'm sure some will criticize him for reaching out to evangelicals in this way, but it is an important constituency.

    Barack's positive Christian values are evident in the work he has done over the last 20 years to make this country a better place.

    Vote Obama!!!

    October 7, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. bukky, baltimore MD

    I'm not for the Idea of visisting and speaking at mega churches. I am GLAD though that Obama is going into republican territory.

    He needs to do this more so than the other because the opposing party as repeatedly demonized him with these people. They've called him, muslim. they've called him oSama, they've called him "intelectually lazy" (that last one is laughabale being that is came for a Bush mouthpeice)

    Anyway these people need to seem and hear him. Maybe when they do, they will realize that they have been lied to yet again and he's not the monster they've been told he is

    October 7, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. Mike, Coburg, Oregon

    I really like Obama and his stance on most issues. He really is a man of faith. I just wish he wasn't a gun control freak. I cannot bring myself to vote for someone who takes the 2nd Amendment lightly, or, in the case of the Bush Whitehouse, the 1st and 5th Amendments.

    October 7, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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