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.

Click here to CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Just a Little Understanding Please, Manchester, VT


    Respect for others' beliefs is one of the pillars of our democracy. The Constitution refers to freedom "of" not "from" religion.

    May I respectfully suggest that if you're going to quote Karl Marx then do it correctly and identify him. The actual quote is "Religion is the opium of the people", not opiate. See Wikipedia or any quotations site.

    No one is forcing you to believe anything and nor should you condemn those who do.

    October 7, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  2. matt

    Obama could turn his comfortable relationship with religion into a huge plus come the general. Dems are looking for electability, so he could bridge that gap with select voters.


    October 7, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Steve, Greenville South Carolina

    Hey... Get over it people! Yes Obama came to Greenville to speak at a church and I were there. This is what candidates do for people to get to know them. What do you think every other candidate is doing? Is he supposed to just sit at home?

    October 7, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Daniel, NY

    A new poll has just come out in Iowa, and has Obama third, 7 points behind Clinton. Poll link here!

    October 7, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Jesse, Denver CO

    See, this just proves that Obama isn't as naive as people keep saying. He needs to win South Carolina, and the way to win is to speak with all different sorts of people who live there. You can't write off any group of voters. He's in it to win it, and this is how you do it!


    October 7, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Jennifer, Jackson Heights (NY), NY

    It is comments like this one that make me quite fearful for the future of this country. Really? REALLY? This person is so uneducated, so biased, so full of hate they would write this? While I believe we all have a right to our opinion, I must say this is one caucasian Christian who hopes to never have to be your neighbor–you are NOT the type of person I want to associate with or even really want to be around. REALLY? REALLY you thought this was a response someone else would agree with? REALLY? Yikes!

    "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.

    Posted By J. McKinney SW MO : October 7, 2007 9:45 am "

    October 7, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Some of these groups are so geared to the subversion of the government to the benefit of their faith that I have little hope that any amount of logic and reason could shake them of their self-defeating agendas.That said,Barack has balls going into such intellectually hostile ground. I hope he comes out with his sanity.

    October 7, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Rob G, Oakland CA

    Religion has no place in politics. Obama has lost my vote now.

    October 7, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Kira St.Louis, Mo

    Here is a scene of Bill Clinton going into one of the largest black church organizations in the country. Now Look at who is pandering.

    I trust Obma 100%

    October 7, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Georgina, Victoria, Canada

    Interesting how very different the States and Canada are in this regard. If a candidate here even mentions a religious affiliation in an election it is the kiss of death. If he/she DOESN'T mention it down there, it is the kiss of death!

    October 7, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Coach Haughton

    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.

    Posted By J. McKinney SW MO : October 7, 2007 9:45 am

    You suggest that people of other faiths cannot be saved. Christ can find any heart. Thats what I have learned of christianity. I was raised without any religion and went to a liberal college where most of my friends, colleagues and professors were agnostic, aetheist and even buddist or hindu. I have a lot of respect for all of their beliefs and ways of life.

    I found christ years after graduating. I do not believe that this is an excusively Christian nation because that would negate the freedom of religion expressed in the Constitution. I do believe however that most christians who I know are good people and that the core principles of Christianity that I have learned, forgiveness, compassion, fairness, family, generosity, humanitarianism and honesty are in direct parallel with much of the founding fathers vision of America.

    So through reaching out to people who share his faith Barack is not doing any harm to America. He reaches out to all kinds of people.

    The politics of religion become detremental to america when leaders implement policy or funding based on religion, or when they prey on the faith of others by telling people that god told them how to make their political and administrative descisions.

    I am a democrat so I understand how some of us are turned off by seing a candidate talk about faith. Realize though that the majority of BOTH political parties are christian so it will always appear that much of the attention goes to christians. Don't let religion divide us because we need eachother to win.

    Quit bashing our republican brothers and sisters and try to see their point of view. In doing so you can try to help them see yours.

    Anyone who thinks all republicans or all democrats are bad or dumb people is an idiot. There are good people and ideas on both sides. As bad as the extreme right bush regime has been democrats and republicans are still in this together.

    Obama is reaching out and uniting. That is the only way to change america. Not by blaming the republicans.

    October 7, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    lmao...looks like all the Neo-Conservatives came out yet again to be the first to post on a Barack Obama article! Man you guys never fail to show your bias!

    October 7, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    I would like to ask all people calling Obama a "radical Muslim" to go to their local mosque and give Islam a try. I think you'll be surprised that not all Muslims believe in the jihad. What you believe is just the fact that terrorists coincedently happen to be Muslims. To say "all Muslims are suicidal jihadists seeking to advance their cause" is an untrue stereotype.

    October 7, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Paul, New Orleans, LA

    While I understand religion as beacon of hope for many, religion should not play into politics because most religions don't ask questions of themselves. As someone put it, if you start to believe things and don't ask proper questions, it starts to become a religion.

    October 7, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Just an Observer

    You would think that a nation as divided as the United States to the point of getting nothing done internally or externally would rally around a person who is speaking to everyone in an attempt to unite rather than diviide...go figure.

    October 7, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Andrea Taylor, Pensacola, Florida

    There is NOTHING wrong with Obama visiting churches.

    This is a free country and people need to learn how to respect one another.

    I am not religious, but I repsect people that are religious - all loving religions - be they Christian, Muslim, Hindhu, etc..

    I realize we all are not the same - but we NEED the same things to thrive as human beings.

    Mr. Obama is a very decent human being. He deserves a chance to show us what he can do. Let's give him a chance. Vote Obama in your primary.

    I do believe in God. I believe God has sent to us a wonderful gift - Mr. Obama. Now we must accept the gift and move on.

    Let's take advantage of an opportunity for real growth and change in America. Let's vote Obama!

    October 7, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. George

    Why is it that the angriest, least reasonable people here seem to all be supporters of the candidate they say can bring us all together?

    October 7, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Arlene

    All the leading candidates go to churches to speak, so should they all be excluded from running for office as some here claim. And Obama is a man of faith, but also a constitutional lawyer who believes in the the separation of powers. And he is a man of faith who is actually trying to create a politics of conscience, by changing the attitude in this country that politics is a fight. He believes all people regardless of faith or non-faith or political party must be called to the table to solve problems. Only by talking to our enemies, whether domestic or international, can we get anything done beyond endless battling. I'm tired of the fighting. I want action... and that means Obama.

    October 7, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Coach Haughton NH

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

    Posted By laurinda,ny : October 7, 2007 9:07 am

    What exactly are you do you imply by this statement?

    You fail to realize that Barack is not attempting to carve out a political constituancy like hilliar and the aforementioned would do.

    He wants to bring everyone together. Please read a book before you comment again. You make people sad to be democtats.

    October 7, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. pl. at the UN for a while.

    H...H. There was a time when religion united people. And probably another chance will come along–at some point–in the as yet unforeseable future.
    Mr Obama is late for the previous time, and too early for the next round.

    October 7, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Moe, NY

    Obama will never get my vote. He is just another religious zealot and, I have had enough of that foolishness. I am a democrat, but will not support any candidate who brings religion to politics. Separation of church and state at all costs.

    October 7, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Coach Haughton NH

    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.

    Posted By Caren : October 7, 2007 10:50 am

    Please name any american political candidate who has ever announced their candidacy with his pastor on stage.
    You will need be on google for hours with that one.

    I pay a lot of attention to news and have never heard of that one. You must have been looking long and hard for that news which indicates that you never had "respect" for the best candidate in the race.

    I'm sure that there was no specific point in time that you lost respect for Barack, you are either rooting for hilliar or one of the other republicans. Trying to steal some of the steam barack is gaining among the faithful.

    And please show some evidence of your comment.

    October 7, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Madoxx, NY,NY

    REPEATING: 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.

    Excellent observation, Kohime.

    October 7, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Joey O, Anderson, SC

    From what I hear about Redemption, it is pretty conservative theologically, but does excellent community social work, and is completely integrated which is rare for a church around here. For those of you who don't know SC well, stay off of Obama. If we want to build an enduring progressive majority, we have to engage religious folks as well as secular. Most of the progressive reforms of the 19th and early 20th century came from evangelicals. Kudos to Obama and any politician who engages the best in our religious traditions, as opposed to playing on fear and intolerance as has been done in the past.

    October 7, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. dolphinsinger, Midwesterner

    I hate to see politicians sucking up to church people. Remember, in the Bible we are told not to mix God and mamon, mamon being all the lobbiest money for one.

    October 7, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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