February 5th, 2009
12:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama speaks out about religious transformation

 Obama discussed his own religious transformation.
Obama discussed his own religious transformation.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama spoke out Thursday about his religious transformation. The President's comments came at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Here's what Obama said, according to the prepared remarks.

"I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose. "


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. zeitguy

    That is something I can resonate with. If you see people behave in a way you admire over time, against adversity and with few resources, you will be attracted to many things about them, including their philosophy, rules, rhythms, appearance, etc. I have had a wide variety of experience with "formal" religion but the decency and positive outlook of small church, rural and poor church people is one of the most beautiful things I have encountered in America.

    February 5, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    This I like; it is about time we place the right tone when it comes to faith. we need to understand and begin to draw people together through faith and find that common theme that binds us to one another. it is about taking responsibility to help others and fulfill the vision of God regardless of which God you believe in. I believe President Obama made a wonderful speech. I believe this has the potential to inspire people to help ans serve their communities and it should inspire the religious leaders to begin a different type of dialogue about how to bridge our divide. I notice that the Vatican again re-affirmed their believe in the Holocoust and I believe that helps in the healing process... the situations in the middle east most also have a religious undertone to help them bridge their divide. Excellent way to start the morning.

    February 5, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. tom

    Obama has still never said if he has repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Going to church and being a community organizer doesn't make you a true Christian.

    February 5, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  4. Dennis

    Hopefully he is just saying what he thinks folks out there want to hear, although it sure would be nice if someday a politician would just "come out of the closet".

    His parents had it right. What we need is less superstition.

    We just had a historic election. Someday we'll make history again by electing someone to high office who is not religious, and speaks openly about it.

    America's needs are too great to be saddled with the burden of backwards beliefs. Especially after the last 8 years, it's time to get real!

    February 5, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. Mo

    I just love you president Obama. I can't believe we finally have a president that is down to earth and speaks the truth. God bless you for serving this nation that needed someone like you soooooo bad.
    OR

    February 5, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. Bubba

    Every politician says that kind of thing, or they can't get elected. But wait and see if they turn the other cheek or forgive their enemies....

    February 5, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. Phyl

    Come on liberals where's the outrage?? Wheres the calls for seperation of church and state?? He's a christian and proud of it, where's your anger about him feeling he hears God's will?? I thought you hated Bush for that?

    Double standard? I think so.

    I didn't vote for you Mr. President but I commend you on your faith.

    February 5, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  8. Christian

    Pres. Obama keep strong in your faith and that will help you carry out your job for the american people.

    February 5, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. chuck

    Rev. Wright ushered Obama into this spiritual journey, why not thank him?

    February 5, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. Daniel, Atlanta, GA

    I'm glad Mr. Obama can show the dumb Christian-evangelical- extremists that a Moderate-Liberal can be just as pius and still respect gay rights! Who is more like Jesus here? Hello?

    February 5, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. Jeff W.

    I feel bad for Obama. He's obvously not religious but he has to pretend that this stuff is important in order to appease middle America who place ridiculous value on such nonsense. I'm so thrilled that we have a president who embraces science over magic and superstition. Eight years of anti-intellectualism are over.

    February 5, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Tracy

    That's a very wise comment on what true Christianity looks like. Christians are not right wing nuts. A nut is a nut and does not need any particular viewpoint to be one. They were already a nut before they picked a cause.

    February 5, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  13. Kennesaw,Ga

    This was a great speech!!! We are bless to have a man of faith with balance leading this country! It was on point.

    February 5, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. Blackvelvet

    Where is the part about accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savior?

    February 5, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Doug

    More politics, get the religion out of the White house. We have a separation of church and state. We have civilian control of the government over the generals and the lobby of the military industrial complex. If you actually believed that no God destroys Children, you would be against using government stimulus for abortions. America is paying attention which is why washington better start paying attention to all of us.

    February 5, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Matt

    Like most politicians, I am guessing Obama realized he had an awakening and turned to Christianity when he realized he wanted to become a politician.

    February 5, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. Phil Haselton

    There's no way Obama could have come to Jesus in THAT "CHURCH" he attended in Chicago. That "church" was a social/political meeting place, as we can all hear on those awful tapes played last year (and forever forward).

    February 5, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. Gerry In Toronto

    Every time this Presdent speaks, he moves millions of people.

    February 5, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. Randy

    Yeah when he needed it to get into politics. He had failed at everything else in his life so might as well got to a church that preaches hate and racism! How can he claim to be religious and recommends the killing of unborn and born babies? What a joke this guy is. The Cathlic church has already denounce him. He will answer to God with all the blood on his hands. After all dont want to get punished with a babyyyy.

    February 5, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  20. Tracy Gorman

    WOW! This is great. I didn't vote for the president, but I am glad to hear him say these things. Faith is a very important part of my life, and I believe it is an important part of our country's heritage. Great job, Mr. President!

    February 5, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. S Callahan

    A famous Pastor (Cymbala) once said : We are God's only representatives on the planet and simply cannot take time to pick and chose who needs help. They all need help.

    It appears that President Obama had his "David' moment....which is his gift from God. It's my prayer we all find our "David moments'.

    He spoke well at this breakfast, a good testimony to his faith. Note he also stated 'thou shalt not kill'. As a man of faith he knows, regardless of any legislation, that one would not abort if ones faith in God is there.

    February 5, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Evolving

    Yes! That is why I voted for our President Obama. What he speaks of is the historical path of our country's spirituality. Freedom of religion fosters your own personal spirituality. No shame – no blame.

    February 5, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. cjp

    What a great leader
    it's not about me ...but you attitude
    keep up the good work

    February 5, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Richard A. Spomer

    God said let them come unto me with a broken heart, and a contrite spirit in which I will lift their souls to mine. If any come with a faithful, and open mind they will fear not but find the for going and mentioned will be found that the one true and all filling gospel is his and is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    These teaching are from the Lord of Lords, the great Jehovah, the Prince of Peace, and the Redeemer from Beginning to all Eternity, the son of the Father the only begotten even Jesus Christ.

    February 5, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  25. Denine

    Yeah, that's a nice story about church folks, but I don't buy it for a minute. The reason Barack is a great and grounded man is because his mother had the common sense to stay away from organized religion and his grandparents and father decided to non-practice. Out of the thousands of church-goers out there, I have yet to find one that truly talks the talk and walks the walk. The most spiritual people I know are the ones who think for the selves, are connected to nature and a higher being, and treat others with love and respect. Preaching into someone's face, casting judgement, and thinking you are better than everyone else because of your religion are sorry excuses for faith – sorry.

    February 5, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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