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. Gavin, Gainsville, Florida

    Just a little understanding please,

    You should do justa little fact checking please. Karl Marx:"Religion is the opiate of the masses". This was the one reasonable idea amidst a plethora of insanity.

    October 7, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Gavin, Gainsville, Florida

    I would be completely fine Obama speaking at a church if he then proceeded to speak at a mosque,cathedral, and other holy places of the many religions. He will not though because he is merely pandering to the majority.

    October 7, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Gavin, Gainesville, Florida

    "As someone put it, if you start to believe things and don't ask proper questions, it starts to become a religion."


    I like that, I might have to use it and replace religion with government. Works just as well.

    October 7, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Karl Marx, USSR

    "Religion is the opiate of the masses"

    October 7, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Fredom of religion is not freedom from religion? Freedom of speech is not freedom from speech? No right to remain silent? Freedom of movement is not freedom from movement? Travelers are not permitted permanent residency? Fredom of thought is not freedom from thought? No meditation? Faulty logic is as bad as the poster that said monkeys can read.

    October 7, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Shardule, Philadelphia, PA

    The guy's just trying to get some votes. This is no different than attending a barbecue, or a country fair. Just leave him alone.

    If people are worried about Barack using his religion in his politics, I can point to the fact that he is pro-choice and does not believe in a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman.

    Seeing as these are two of the most controversial issues where politics and religion meet, I'd say he does a pretty good job of keeping his personal faith (even though he cites his faith as the reason he does not believe in gay marriage) out of politics.

    Vote for a man / woman for his or her policies and vision, not whether he or she attends a party, barbecue, or church service.

    October 7, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Caren

    Anybody who doubts what I said about Obama betraying his pastor, I invite you to check with the Chicago Sun Times or Tribune on the day he announced for President. Obma & I belong to the same church & I can tell you his slight of Rev. Wright did not go unnoticed in fact Rev. Wright fully expected because he knew Obama would do what politics dictated. The next time you disagree with me on a post do some research first. Just because I'm not addicted to the Obama kool-aid doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking.
    For your information a lot of times people have their ministers in the VIP section. He didn't even allow him there he was back stage. Weak as water, weak as water

    October 7, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Louis, St. Louis, MO

    This hypocrite is spinning again. This time, unfortunately, is using religion for his gain.

    I am just at loss why so many people don't seem to be bothered by what they see and hear from this guy. Are we Americans really stupid or what?

    October 7, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Still thinking, wpb,fl

    I think Mr Obama is very astute. I think the reason he is speaking at this Church is because it's large and he may see them as the easiest people to capture and influence. No disrespect implied. Just an observation. Remember how our current leader pandered to the Conservative Christians and then laughed at them behind there backs?
    Hopefully Obama is more sincere.

    October 7, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Wow!, too many stupid comments on this board.

    October 7, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. Adam, Plano, TX

    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 obviously know NOTHING about Obama, his step father and father were muslim, but his mother did not raise him ANY religion, she gave him even exposure to all the major religions, to allow him to make his own choices in life. he CHOSE christianity, he wasn't raised it, or muslim. please, if you're going to spread crap, at least make it believeable crap, and pretty please, educate yourself on the candidates in this election, its obvious you are completely ignorant on that subject, and cannot possibly make an informed decision come election time.

    October 7, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Like Obama said at the 2004 Democratic convention "We worship and awesome God in the blue states". Obama has always peppered his speechs with faith, that we are interconnected and are our brothers keeper. Many of the founding fathers were deeply religious. I only have a problems when one religion tries to dominate the public discourse and you have a president who believes he is receiving messages from God. Religion is good for self betterment not dogmatic pratices. Fellow democrats, get use to the idea of a canidate that is comfortable speaking about his faith. Let's not go back to Kerry's uncomfortable stance, and not look condensingly towards the majority of americans who believe in God.

    As for the muslism attack, Barack wasn't raised by his father and only met his once. So stop with your racial hatred.

    October 7, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Lioness, Washington DC

    Interesting. Good strategy by Obama. This man has an incredible capacity to tap into what matters most to individual people, no matter what the context or the issue.

    He has a passionate love of country – and he is also an astute politician. Both qualities necessary for a good leader.

    October 7, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. JC, Baltimore

    I first thought Obama would be a great President after I heard his speech at Sojourners in July 2006. He has a way of talking about religion and politics that respects both. I think religion and politics have been taken a beating over the past eight years. It takes someone who understands why religion and politics matter in America to restore them to their rightful place. Sorry, but I really don't see the hypocrisy here at all.

    October 7, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. Margaret Cahill, Princeton, WV

    My heart goes out Obama, but not my vote. I really feel sorry for him. A lot of people "have set him up" in my estimation to make him believe he really can be President of the United States. How sad. Maybe someday but I don't think it will happen in the 20 years. He is good looking, smart and I am sorry he fell for the idea of running for U.S. President. God knows, he is trying and he is working hard. Here is another wife of a politician that should keep her mouth shut. Don't these women know they are killing votes, not creating them.

    October 7, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. Beverly Conti, New Orleans, LA

    Like a great many indigestible substances that enter the body, Jesus will pass through the great rectum of life to be deposited where he belongs. He does not belong in political discourse.

    October 7, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  17. Lioness, Washington DC

    Margaret Cahill,

    No one told Obama anything. He is very ambitious. It was his decision, and he is willing to face the consequences like a man, in the best sense of the word.

    As Michelle says, though, running for president of the United States is about the best way to disrupt family life. He used to thrive in relative peace with money, power, a cushy job and a quiet family life.

    He is making a sacrifice in running – especially as a black man who needs Secret Service protection far sooner than is customary for candidates.

    He is also running because he believes he can do the job better than anyone else – he is right about that! His vision, specific policy proposals and courage are what this country sorely needs.

    If he were, say 20 years older, he would lose his freshness. There is a certain amount of idealism that is necessary in order to willingly submit oneself to the presidency at such a raucous political time. Idealism is also the backbone of a great leader.

    That freshness, which some people mistake as a weakness (particularly the tired, inertia-drive pundits) is actually a huge asset.

    Don't mistake freshness for naivete either – this man is tough as nails and wise beyond his years. He didn't get to where he is by being a wimp, as some posters here are suggesting.

    October 7, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  18. Pepe- a citizen of the world

    My heart goes out Obama, but not my vote. I really feel sorry for him. A lot of people "have set him up" in my estimation to make him believe he really can be President of the United States. How sad. Maybe someday but I don't think it will happen in the 20 years. He is good looking, smart and I am sorry he fell for the idea of running for U.S. President. God knows, he is trying and he is working hard. Here is another wife of a politician that should keep her mouth shut. Don't these women know they are killing votes, not creating them.

    Posted By Margaret Cahill, Princeton, WV : October 7, 2007 6:03 pm


    So from your point of view:"He is good looking, smart"

    But as smart as he may be, he gets only your sympathy,and not your vote.

    Sad indeed!

    But ss dumb as you may be, I have some respect for you. At least you are not beating around the "bush" as to why he is not getting your vot. That has its merit.

    But how did America get to be so rich, providing the vast number of simpletons running around?

    Rob G form Oakland, Obama never had your vote. You should borrow a page from Margret's book. Oh please don't!

    Some of you fools are as old as dirt. And well on the way out. And the sad part is most of you will die never knowing how to live.

    Mr Obama, you only half white. I don't want to say half black, that would be negative thinking. You're not qualified. The content of your character is unimportant. Your top notch education is irrelevant. Your good looks isn't good enough. Your wisdom is impotent. The sum of all your virtues falls short.

    You have a major problem. And to solve your problem, you need to look for the value of X. X= the other white half- Impossible to slove.

    Just don't pull a Michael Jackson,lol.

    October 7, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. laurinda,ny

    This arguing back and forth is terrible. What is wrong with everybody? I am so annoyed that everyone is causing stress on everyone else! There are some very nasty people here who are upsetting everyone. Stop it. Everyone thinks that I am crazy? Well, it takes a crazy one to know a crazy one! You may be more well educated than some people, but, you sure don't sound like it.

    October 7, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  20. Mike, Staten Island, NY

    A Muslim in a Chrisitian house of worship?

    October 7, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. J. McKinney SW MO

    To Adam in Plano–how did you become such an expert on Obama? Do you know any more about him than what is written in the news columns, etc? And do you know that all these "facts" are accurate??
    And to others of you who know that his freshness is what we need (even if he doesn't have the experience) and I really don't see all the "charisma" etc that some talk about. I haven't seen him in person, only on TV, internet, etc, but he seems to stumble and fumble with most of his speech, it seems to me. He does have a charming smile, but I don't think that is going to cut it.

    October 7, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  22. Don Longmont, CO

    It would be great if Obama could convince some of the Republican base in the evangelical community that health care, immigration and the economy are issues that need to be addressed too. These issuses impact more of American than abortion and gay rights.

    October 7, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Lee, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    What Obama and the other democrats need to understand is that people of faith (who follow Jesus as their Savior and Lord) will not vote for a candidate (or party) that believes in the killing of unborn babies.

    This is a real quandary this 2008 election because those of us that believe in the sanctity of life will not vote for a candidate who approves of abortion, NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY ARE.

    The democrats have other issues that believers do not approve of and the democratic candidates can't hide from their platform, no matter who the candidate is (ie; gay marriage, euthanasia, etc.).

    October 7, 2007 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  24. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    laurinda, I agree with you. Obama likes to talk, he said he is pleased to be evangelical worker. I am sure he will be much successful as Pastor of the Church than political leader.
    He used black's support, youngster's support now try Christians' support. I think Obama has no professional political view. Empty wagon makes a noise. Obama is a big noise.

    October 7, 2007 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  25. JBS. Cleveland, Ohio

    Good grief! You guys take everything so literal. Those of us who know, know what he means with that comment, from his perspective. I'm happy he had the "guts" to state where he's coming from and where he get's his strength from. He's definetly not failing to assemble 🙂 If you know what I mean, then you know.

    He's not going to be everything to everybody. He is who he is. Why do many of us want him for President? Because he's a breathe of fresh air for this country! And he's honest on all the issues; hence this discussion. Because he talks the talk and walks the walk.

    He's not ashamed. If you know what I mean, then you know. Until I see different or better, he's got my vote!!!

    Fired Up - Obama 08

    October 7, 2007 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
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