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. Dave

    I have a hard time believing this. Nevermind that attributing the generosity and helpfulness of ordinary people to "God's spirit" diminishes the effort of each of those people. Human kindness needs not answer to a higher power. I believe that after years of living without religion, Mr. Obama decided that he'd better get some god if he wanted a political career.

    Why live a life of rational thinking without the need of an invisible best friend/daddy then suddenly turn to superstition and mysticism?

    I'm disappointed that he made this statement.

    February 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    You go head on Obama, speak those words, its not religion that saves you or directs your paths. Its God and God alone.

    February 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. high five

    wow! sure is hard to argue obamas' personal transformation. i'm sure many will try to discredit but in the end it won't change his experience with God. no one can take that away–especially not some 2 bit cnn news commenter. i mean really...really.

    February 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. gt

    great story ... amen mr president

    February 5, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Dave

    What a joke!!! You CANNOT be a christian and believe in evolution, be for abortion and for special rights for homosexuals. You can't even be for global warming(Genesis, 8-22). The bible is very clear on these matters.

    February 5, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  6. sickofBHO

    too little, to late BHO!!!! You will tell people what they want to hear depending on who your audience is!! I hope people can see through your bull.

    February 5, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  7. L R

    Hey, Obama, where is the repentance and confession of sin, and placing your faith in Christ for forgiveness of sin and eternal life? What to describe is a person that got impacted by good deeds, and that made him a sympathizer of Christianity. But a Christian himself... I don't see much of it in his recolection of events.

    February 5, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. kathy

    just nice now obama is confused, i am not SURPRISED

    February 5, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. Esther Renee

    It comforts me to know that the spiritual transformation occurred where it is suppose to happen, in the heart and spirit of the individual.
    I too was raised in a religious atmosphere and like President Obama
    saw the contradictory life styles being exhibited. I found my way to
    God thru Christ Jesus by realizing my own spiritual deprivation that was constantly nagging at me. Understand world, no matter how far we run our creator God has inserted a "measure of faith" in all of humanity and the thing that we all search for is him. Run, can't hide, be blind but you will soon see, that the imbalance in all of mankind will only come with the a return back to God, I guarantee that!!!!

    February 5, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  10. kathy

    three thing obama has done so far is not GOOD, what is coming up nest

    February 5, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. kathy

    what is coming up next

    February 5, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Jimmy

    If George W. Bush had said that he heard "God's spirit beckon me" and that he "felt called to a higher purpose- His purpose," I wonder what the media reaction might have been. Probably very different from the reaction now, with Pres. Obama.

    February 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Chris

    Why can't a president just leave his religion out of it?

    February 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. thomas

    The character of a man is not determined by how he relates to God but in how he relates to the physical world. President Obama has lived in the world of the lost and forgotten and he understands the suffering which this economic crisis forced upon millions of Americans. It will take an Army of healers to help us recover. We are all one.

    February 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. D O

    Mr president l know you are the chosen one from God, and l know not everybody will agree with you. I hope you will be a good President May God bless you .

    February 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. ruthanne

    oh no! Please don't say things like this, Mr. President! I SO, SO hope we will not again have a blurring of the line between church and state.

    February 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Susann

    President Obama has been chosen by God for this season to fulfill a universal destiny. What we are experiencing and will experience has already been written in the Book. He knows it and anyone who believes knows it as well. God had to use some one pure and not boged down in religious doctrines, beliefs and antics to begin this era of transition and Barack Obama is the one. Even if circumstances continue to get worst and the world begins to give itself over to its own demise it is all in the plan of God and those who believe in His Greatness will be sustained during this time of change

    February 5, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. Sandra Moore

    God bless your efforts. I do beleive that God has called you for this time and His purpose. Don't be afraid because God is going to lead you. Seek God for all answers and He will not let you be ashame. I am praying for you and have been for a long itme.

    Love you in Christ,
    Sandra

    February 5, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  19. Decided Independent

    Yeah yeah, whatever. I want to hear what's up with the first puppy.

    February 5, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Dave

    I am elated, however, that Obama subconsciously acknowledged that many religious people receive their beliefs through indoctrination.

    February 5, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  21. lucy

    With that background, I believe President Obama is able to be open-minded on the views of people of all faiths as well as atheists. I am a firm believe in separation of church and state. This is a welcome change from having powerful politicians who claim to have close connection with God. I am simply intolerant to religious hipocrites.

    February 5, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Bo

    Excellent. If we beleive and Jesus Christ, we should always be confident in our beleif and never fall subject to the world's resistence to God. Utilimately, God will deal with all of mankind, no matter your belief. Ther will come a time to account for SIN. President Obama's story is similar to many christians who have excepted Jesus Christ. God inspires and provides meaningful purpose in life, not man.

    GREAT JOB OBAMA

    February 5, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. BB

    Dave – you sound like one of those cynical republicans. Go buy some houses.

    February 5, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. Jim

    I agree with Dave above. I think he found religion for political purposes. Not saying that's a terrible thing, but I just think that's how it is.

    February 5, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Just shut up!

    Virtually everything Obama has done has been carefully calculated to put him in the position he's in. I do not believe most of it has been genuine.

    His relationship with deity is a person thing. But Rev. Wright??? Should we be surprised a lot of his cabinet picks are crap with Obama's past relationships?

    My favorite part is how Obama pre-arranged to distance himself from Wright should he make it far enough on the campaign trail. What a joke! Sincere: my donkey's behind!

    February 5, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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