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. G Maed

    The most interesting aspect of Obamas' speech is that he seems blind to any good done by people who don't subscribe to a religious denomination. The idea he posits that the church goers were less bigoted, "no matter what they looked like, or where they came from" is simply insulting to anyone who does not believe. Did Lincoln not do as much good in our country because he was a non-theist?

    February 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. Leonard Queequegg

    This guy is so full of it it is sickening. You people need to stop putting your faith in these lousy politicians and look to god for yourselves.

    February 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Art

    where can I get a hard copy of Obama's speech?

    February 5, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. AD

    @ Randy-

    How do you figure he failed at everything else in life?

    Wow.

    Try listening to the 'contovertial' Reverend's entire sermons, not just the out of context snippets played and replayed on Faux news.

    As for the rest of your babble, well, that's exactly what it is. Babble.

    February 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Baze

    @Randy

    Yeah you're right, it's much better to be like George Bush, who turned to evangelism to save him from his drunkenness. Why don't you move to some niche corner of Germany where they're very accomodating to hypocritical bigots just like you.

    February 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. Amy in St. Louis

    What a shame that some people feel the need to invoke 'God' in everything. Can't people just be good people??? I think it's a shame that people would only do charitable works because they think it's what 'God' would want.

    I am an atheist who volunteers for 3 different organizations. Not because any god tells me to, but because it's the right thing to do. It feels good and it helps out my fellow human beings.

    Funny that people who call the Bible a good moral guide usually haven't read it. Or maybe you think that stoning your children is a just punishment for when they talk back to you? If so, Leviticus and Exodus have you covered! Haven't read them? Well I have and they are heinous and disgusting.

    February 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Yo no se. Galatian's clearly informs us who's walking in the spirit, and the flesh. I'll use the word of God as an way to determine as person's stature.

    February 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Eric

    Great story. Now if he didn't support the murder of innocent babies and cut funding to religious schools, I'd belive him

    February 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. MaryJo Bruce Surprise, Ariz

    Don't believe you can be a honest Christian and believe in abortion. Especially along with that partial birth abortion as Pre Obama does.

    February 5, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. MIMI

    The Lord works in mysterious ways......who are we to judge ???

    February 5, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Amy in St. Louis

    Hear hear Jeff W.!

    Free science!

    February 5, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Troy

    Such words make you contemplate the wisdom of those catholics who would have you believe that voting for this man would require reconciliation/confession. It just highlights how rediculous it is for and when Catholics bash Christians.

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. LLT

    I listened to Pres. Obama's speech which was far reaching across all faiths...and this is what CNN chose to highlight? What a joke you are becoming.

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. Lori

    BO's religious point of view is his business, not ours.

    I am only interested in how he does his job, and whether he will slither around more campaign promises.

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. Hope

    Randy, your comments are ridiculous.

    "How can he claim to be religious and recommends the killing of unborn and born babies? What a joke this guy is. The Catholic church has already denounce him." The same Catholic Church that is responsible for destroying so many children's lives by creating and perpetuating environment in which Priests sexually abused children is denouncing Obama? Ha.
    These are waters you should not be treading in. The Bible says, "Let he that is without sin cast the first stone." It also says judge not lest you be judged." It gets me when believers are more concerned with a church's position rather than actualy living by the word of God.

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Fredi

    To all you "separation-of-church-and-state" people:
    There is NOTHING in the Constitution that demands such a thing.
    The 1st amendment says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
    All those who want to keep religion out of public places are "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion and are therefore in violation of the Constitution.

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  17. False Prophet

    Keep Speaking nut-job!

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  18. Eric

    Thou shalt not kill is not only applicable to abortion, but also to war. Killing is killing, even if those we kill have different beliefs.

    Many "Christians" should spend as much time spreading the word and healing of God to those in need as they seem to spend condemning those they disagree with. If more Americans could accept Christ as their savior and we Christians truly lived in His image, then abortions would be dramatically reduced. And, hopefully, this war would end as well.

    Also, in the Bible it says to pray for our leaders, so for all those who read this article and attack our President, maybe you should be reading other words (or The Word).

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. vincent - phoenix

    To the doubters of Obama and his faith....

    YOUR approval is not what he seeks....

    please know that when you spin your hate.

    February 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. Tim

    "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."

    If every American followed Obama's words, then America and the World would be a better place! There wouldn't be the religious fighting that we see today in our Congress, or the religious fighting that we see in nation vs nation. Then America would truely be what our Forefathers wanted, a Nation of Believers but Believers that don't condemn others for not believing and that don't push their beliefs onto others.

    February 5, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Reece

    I personally don't think he "needs" to be a Christian to be President.
    I also think that Christians need to keep their preaching for themselves, especially the 99.9% of them that: smoke,cus,lie and drink among other things. Don't preach to others how it's wrong when you yourself need to work on your yourself first.
    Most of you Christians that posted above, say you are Christians and don't judge, but you all just did Judge.. what a joke. Leave Obama alone and let him believe what he wants to believe in.

    February 5, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. Outspoken

    He became a "christian" because he wanted to get into politics and he knew he needed some "religious credentials" before the black community would support him. With B.O., religion is just a political tool–like the way he used the bible for his first swearing-in, but then did not bother with the bible for the second swearing-in in the Oval Office because THERE WERE NO CAMERAS. There is a politically strategic reason for EVERYTHING this phony charlatan does.......but then again, he is a democrat. What do you expect?

    February 5, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. butterflycrying

    I am glad that he is open about his religious background. I could care less if he was an atheist, but this nation would not have voted for him because so many people are deluded into believing that you have to be of a certain religion to hold political office, which is not true at all. There is a reason that a seperation of church and state has been on the books, but no one truely follows that path.

    February 5, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. That Other Jerry

    Had President Obama been this forthcoming about his faith during the campaign, he might have avoided some of the ridiculous rumors that were flying around. Nevertheless I am impressed. His faith journey shows evidence of thought and reflection. A marked contrast to the comments of many, who obviously have never grasped the fact that humanity is but an infection on a dustball in a corner of the cosmos, and instead cling to the "fact" (hope) that we are the absolute pinnacle of consciousness, leaving no room in the universe for anything higher than ourselves. I never encounter atheism but what I am overwhelmed by its egocentrism and awed by its blind faith in nonexistence.

    February 5, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. July

    Randy February 5th, 2009 9:58 am ET

    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.

    ___________________________________

    wow Randy .. you sure sound bitter. What a great way to spread the word. You sure do listen in Church.

    February 5, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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