February 5th, 2009
12:00 PM ET
6 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. Joe

    some people play church every sunday – Obama experienced the real church on those streets – the church that does something – that makes a difference – faith in action

    February 5, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Tyler Durdan

    Keep god out of this please... Just govern, and govern well.

    February 5, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. CarolinaBlue

    I'm skeptical of his religion still. He didn't become a Christian because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation? Well if there was no revelation within him, then he obviously hasn't found God.

    Any reasonable person knows that there is a higher purpose, that is a given, and the primary reason for human existence: to move up the ladder morally and serve God.

    It sounds to me like he was persuaded into serving in the church. Something just doesn't add up about this guy, our President. Promises and vows have already been broken, and he is spending a lot of time on some pretty petty stuff, rather than working on serious issues. But hey, it looks good doesn't it? He stays busy in the office and looks important.

    February 5, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. CC

    It's too bad that someone as great as Obama has to pander to religion in order to take office. If you are not a Christian, you can not become President. Freedom of Religion does not exist. If he were a practicing Muslim, he would never get voted in, even if he ran the same campaign. And if he did make it, just think of the scandal if he wanted to place his hand on the Koran when taking the oath. Our country has a lot of growing up to do. Amen

    February 5, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. yuri

    Call it "God", "Almighty", "Supravital Force", "The One", or the "Ultimate Savior", my take is that a strong rule of law, fairness, prosperity, and health for every one, alone can salvage the downtrodden, considerably. Let us constantly remind ourselves about the imperfectness of the whole universe. Folks, how about getting rid of egotistic and megalomaniacal behaviors, for once? Egad! That is so spiritualistic.

    February 5, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. AB

    If there is such a thing as a god it is sadistic, perverted and merciless.

    February 5, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Gregory T: NYC

    God bless and keep you, Mr. President Barack Obama. You and your beautiful family are in my prayers daily. You are proving to be an excellent steward of the country during this trying time and crisis.

    February 5, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. jaye

    This story made me cry.
    I am so happy that President Obama got the call from God.
    Many of us Christians don't believe in the majority of doctrines that churches preach, and many of us have stopped going to church because of that. When religion is politiced in the churches, and preachers resort to the airwaves selling promises from God, then is when we stop attending church services and start living without the church in our lives.
    We still have our christian beliefs and ways, but we don't go to church.

    February 5, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. alreadytiredofit

    Gag me – but this is what the idiotic minions of this country need to hear. I doubt very many politicians really believe in a deity at all – they just know they won't get elected without pandering to stupidity and nonsensical ideas.

    February 5, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. tj

    No walls, no mind, and no group can ever dissect the phenomenon of God changing lives. Once transformation occurs we have been conditioned to expect the new form alone, rejecting the old. However, no human will go without temptation to re-explore the old self after being transformed by the Spirit of God, which tends to remind us of our need for God. A strengthening of relationships and an understanding of covenant will keep the divine unction in forethought.
    Celebration of Disciplines, By Richard Foster, is a great read on spiritual transformation.

    February 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. Adiam48

    @ Dave, You disappoint me. You should be happy when a person gives their life to Christ. But his salvation isn't between you and him. Obama's salvation is between him and God.

    I take President Obama at his word. I thank God for touching him and giving him the mind to accept God in his life. I for one am very happy.

    CNN please post this one.

    February 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. kingdomroar

    Did that same spirit of God tell the president to fund the murder of children in abortion clinics with tax payer dollars and call good evil and evil good by lifting sexually immoral actions to the status of civil rights? I think not. If he is a christian he has been badly discipled and has been misled as to what is required of a disciple of Christ. The first requirement is to obey His Word and not make light of it by supporting agendas that are not that of Christ. The Word says that He hates hands that shed innocent blood. The Word says that neither liars, thieves, adulters, fornicators ans homosexuals will inhert the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, " “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

    February 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Alex

    @ Dave,

    What Obama has that you, and many other anti-religion folks lack, is the degree of humility required in admitting that you don't know everything about the world.

    God isn't something you're likely to find through study or logic, but something that you have to experience. Once you do, Obama's words will make a bit more sense.

    February 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. beetle

    God bless you President Obama.

    February 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. obama-mama

    This is a great man.

    February 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. dan

    Translation: "I only became religious when it benefited me politically." Kind of like when he ditched he racist pastor. And since when do the libs on here give a lick about religion at all? I guess it is cool now to be a Christian now that their President is.

    February 5, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Mary, Chicago

    This man has no substance or core values. God help the country.

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

    Because rational and logical thinking cannot explain WHY humans have a driving force to do good deeds and works. You might say "it's coded into our DNA"...sure..maybe it is. But every design has a designer. I pray that he's genuine in his remarks.

    February 5, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. John

    I would rather not have federal or state politics mixed in with pseudo religion, look at the global condition and it's God that is the foundation for ignorance, and genocide. It's time to flush religion, the time is now.

    February 5, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. NEL E BELL

    MR. PRESIDENT, ITS GOOD THAT YOU ARE OPEN TO THE WORD AND WORKS OF GOD, THATS A GOOD THING. HOWEVER, WE ARE A FREE PEOPLE FIRST AND OF A DENOMINATION SECOND. IN OTHER WORDS I AM A FREE MAN THAT CHOOSES TO BELIEVE IN A SUPREME BEING AND A DEVINE HAND IN MY LIFE. YOU CAN BE THAT ALSO BUT, REMEMBER YOU ARE THE LEADER OF A NATION NOW THAT IS YOUR MISSION NOW AND FOR THE NEXT 4-8 YRS. DO NOT PUT ANY RELIGION ABOVE YOUR POSITION FOR THAT TIME FRAME. BEST OF LUCK AND KEEP IN MIND YOU CAN NOT HELP THE LESS FORTUNATE WHETHER IT IS THEIR FATE OR CHOICE TOBE LESS FINANCIALLY WEALTHY. OUR FATE AS A NATION IS IN THE HANDS OF MANY NOT JUST THE LEAST OF US.

    February 5, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Southerner

    So the logic here is thus:

    Obama found God by working with people who were willing to help others, regardless of what they looked like, who they prayed to and where they were from. This caused him to join a Black Liberation Theology church that preaches "God D@mn America", US of KKKA, and Africa first?

    Riiiiiiggggghhhtttt!

    February 5, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Craig Greenwood

    He felt called to God's purpose? But he's willing to help abort babies domestically and abroad...with taxpayers money? No one is perfect and I will not question his devotion to God. But of all the things to do in the world, if you want to follow God, I think he should at least make a minor attempt to not kill babies. But hey, that's just me.

    February 5, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Kevin

    Praise be to God, and The One who died for MY sins, for he saw fit to touch your heart, and put you on the pathe of righteousness. I see His works through you, just from the policies that you are righting and Executive Orders that you are signing. Keep up the excellent work.

    February 5, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Jefferson Handcock

    ah Dave sunday school starts at 9 AM

    February 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. Elizabeth in Texas

    For those of you judging this man, you will be judged one day as well. You critize him for not talking about his faith and then when he does, you are negative and nasty.

    I grew up the same way, you want to judge me, too?

    February 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7