August 26th, 2007
01:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama invokes Bible in NOLA

Obama attends church service in New Orleans.

(CNN) - Speaking to Sunday church congregants in New Orleans, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama invoked Jesus' Sermon on the Mount days before the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

"Getting ready to talk to you today, I recall what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount," Obama said at New Orleans' First Emmanuel Baptist Church. "He said, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock."

"The rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. But it did not fall, because it was founded on the rock," he continued.

That rock, he said, was a principal of brotherhood exemplified by the church during Hurricane Katrina - but not the federal government.

"Something was wrong in America. Our foundation wasn't built on the rock," he said.

Obama blasted local, state and federal response to the storm, and touched upon ingredients necessary for the city's rebuilding, namely more employment opportunities for residents to rebuild, community-based law enforcement to tackle the city's crime epidemic, and improved health care.

President George Bush and several presidential candidates plan to visit New Orleans this week to commemorate the hurricane's anniversary.

Obama spent Saturday in Miami, where he brushed aside criticisms of running his campaign on the intangible platform of hope, calling himself a "hope monger," and proposed easing travel restriction with Cuba.

- CNN Political Desk Editor Mark Norman

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. James, Fairmont WV

    Once again the Dems show how flip flop they can be. They scream "Separation of Church and State" and then go to a church to speak.
    Come on Dems, which way do you want it.

    August 27, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. Mark Epperson, Orange Park, FL

    Total perversion of scripture, but then again, to a liberal, the government is the rock.

    August 27, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. Scott WV

    Christ is the "rock. Mr. Obama's life is built on muhammod. Mr. Obama will crumblke in the end. He has built on sand. As has everyone not standing on Christ.

    August 27, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Tom A, Ellicott City, MD

    Wake up Carolina Dude,

    Name one thing Obama has done legislative-wise or business related.

    As for Edwards, can you seriously spout praise of him as a candidate? Here is a multi-millionaire who HEAVILY invested in hedge funds (post Katrina mind you)- thereby posting significant personal financial gains from the vast numbers of foreclosures – guess where? – that's right, New Orleans. THEN, he posses with Katrina victims on a political platform.

    Please wake up and become educated. This Democratic party is NO LONGER the party of JFK and McGovern. It has become a socialist platform steering more towards Marxism than anytime in history.

    Local government and the people who moved into a city well below sea-level in hurricane central are to blame – not the White House. Compare what the Mayor of Houston did when they had a cat 4 inbound – without Fed help BTW and see if you can draw a comparison.

    Your Obama/Edwards ticket will send us all into a socialist nightmare. If you want to focus on the average American you might want to look at Romney. But whatever you do, please become educationally rounded.

    August 27, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Ernie Bennett, Sylvester, West Virginia

    Hillary all the way. Obama sounds like a preacher for Islam or Farrakhan. Spare me either one of those !

    August 27, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Timothy O'Fallon Palm Harbor, FL

    "Separation of Church and State" was a term coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Virginia Baptist association, in which he said that, in his view, the establishment clause meant that there was to be a "wall of separation" between Church and State.

    This was a valid opinion of Jefferson's, but a questionable one – he was in France at the time of the writing of the constitution.

    It is unlikely that the actual authors of the constitution intended this "wall of separation". During the convention, they temporarily halted work on the Constitution to write the "Northwest Ordinance" regarding the entry of new states into the union. In the Northwest Ordinance, they wrote that religion was essential for public education and good government.

    August 27, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Kelly C., Kansas City, KS

    "Studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that the passage in the Bible known as the Sermon on the Mount is actually an ancient Essene prayer dating to hundres of years before the birth of Christ.
    Posted By Douglas Babb, Princeton_KY : August 26, 2007 10:44 am "

    Well, not at all, actually. There are some points of contact, but it is not simply an Essene prayer:

    August 27, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Jim

    Looks like the Drudge nut job knuckle dragged their way in.

    August 27, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. David, Salinas, CA

    Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists referring to the First Amendment to the Constitution as a “wall of separation” between church and state. The Amendment itself reads:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ."

    The Supreme Court of the United States used the phrase “separation of church and state” first in 1878, and later in a series of cases starting in 1947.

    Liberals not only read the constitution... they wrote it.

    August 27, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. David, Salinas, CA

    Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists referring to the First Amendment to the Constitution as a “wall of separation” between church and state. The Amendment itself reads:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ."

    The Supreme Court of the United States used the phrase “separation of church and state” first in 1878, and later in a series of cases starting in 1947.

    Liberals not only read the constitution... they wrote it.

    August 27, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Read Knox

    Why A Republican Vote Is A Racist Vote, Paul Krugman

    ...[There is a] difference between the goals of the modern Republican Party and the strategy it uses to win elections. The people who run the G.O.P. are concerned, above all, with making America safe for the rich. Their ultimate goal, as Grover Norquist once put it, is to get America back to the way it was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over,” getting rid of “the income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.” But right-wing economic ideology has never been a vote-winner. Instead, the party’s electoral strategy has depended largely on exploiting racial fear and animosity.

    Ronald Reagan didn’t become governor of California by preaching the wonders of free enterprise; he did it by attacking the state’s fair housing law, denouncing welfare cheats and associating liberals with urban riots. Reagan didn’t begin his 1980 campaign with a speech on supply-side economics, he began it — at the urging of a young Trent Lott — with a speech supporting states’ rights delivered just outside Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. And if you look at the political successes of the G.O.P. since it was taken over by movement conservatives, they had very little to do with public opposition to taxes, moral values, perceived strength on national security, or any of the other explanations usually offered. To an almost embarrassing extent, they all come down to just five words: southern whites starting voting Republican.

    In fact, I suspect that the underlying importance of race to the Republican base is the reason Rudy Giuliani remains the front-runner for the G.O.P. nomination, despite his serial adultery and his past record as a social liberal. Never mind moral values: what really matters to the base is that Mr. Giuliani comes across as an authoritarian, willing in particular to crack down on you-know-who. But Republicans have a problem: demographic changes are making their race-based electoral strategy decreasingly effective. Quite simply, America is becoming less white, mainly because of immigration. Hispanic and Asian voters were only 4 percent of the electorate in 1980, but they were 11 percent of voters in 2004 — and that number will keep rising for the foreseeable future.

    Those numbers are the reason Karl Rove was so eager to reach out to Hispanic voters. But the whites the G.O.P. has counted on to vote their color, not their economic interests, are having none of it. From their point of view, it’s us versus them — and everyone who looks different is one of them. So now we have the spectacle of Republicans competing over who can be most convincingly anti-Hispanic. I know, officially they’re not hostile to Hispanics in general, only to illegal immigrants, but that’s a distinction neither the G.O.P. base nor Hispanic voters takes seriously.

    Today’s G.O.P., in short, is trapped by its history of cynicism. For decades it has exploited racial animosity to win over white voters — and now, when Republican politicians need to reach out to an increasingly diverse country, the base won’t let them.

    August 27, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Ralf Alot, Cuba City WI

    Not peace, but a sword. – Jesus

    August 27, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Mike Wanatah, Indiana

    If would be great to hear a big government Democrat give a sermon from 1 Samuel 8:9-18! Well, maybe; they'd probably be as off base as the "Reverend" Obama.

    August 27, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. David, Salinas, CA

    The First Amendment to the Constitution reads:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...”

    In letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802 Thomas Jefferson called the first amendment a “wall of separation” between church and state. The Supreme Court of the United States used the phrase first in 1878, and later in a series of cases starting in 1947.

    Liberals not only read the constitution... they wrote it.

    August 27, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Mike Agostini

    The use of the word "principal" rather than the appropriate word "principle" suggests something about the English language skills of your reporter of this article.
    Was this item edited and/or sub-edited?

    August 27, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. Jan Houston

    Katrina: One good outcome: It got some kids out of the South Louisiana schools and into Texas schools. Here at least they will have a chance at becoming educated adults.
    The levees are not the disgrace. It is the school system.

    I'd love to see Obama as President.

    August 27, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. Rev. Rusty, Wytheville, VA

    What would the media, especially CNN, if, oh, Fred Thompson stood in the pulpit of First Baptist – Atlanta, whipped out his Thompson Chain Reference Bible and a sermon folder and preached a 30 minute message of the evils of modern American liberalism. What if he ripped the Dems over and over again pointing out their comments and refuting them with scripture? They would want him hanged by the neck until dead and the ACLU would want him stoned. Its much easier to preach a sermon putting down the liberals who are so easily targets from the scriptures. I applaud Obama for finding a message that can be preached in a pro-liberal bent, but he is very poor in his theological teaching. Those of us who preach, pastors like myself, would call his "message" a tremendous reach – attempting to make lemonade out of rotten lemons. Before you begin using the Bible as a support for your political stances, read it well.

    August 27, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Rick, Charlotte, NC

    Rick Moore...your post is priceless! You need to trademark that.

    When are these idiots (Obama) going to stop exploiting the poor, uneducated and ignorant for their own political gain?


    The wise man may build his house on a rock, but the foolish man builds his house 16′ below sea level in an area surrounded by lakes and rivers, and is then greatly astonished when a hurricane floods the city.

    There's not enough government in the world to fix dumb.

    Posted By Rick Moore, Mission Viejo, CA : August 26, 2007 11:27 am

    August 27, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. Aaron, King of Prussia, Pa

    To both Dems & Repubs – remember even the devil can quote scripture.

    August 27, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Wes Lamb, Springfield, GA

    Political candidates should not be speaking in churches nor should churches invite them to do so! It clearly smacks of endorsement unless each and every major canidate is invited to speak in a particular church.

    August 27, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. xii, Madison, WI

    Where in the US Constitution does is say "Separation of Church and State"? I just read the Constitution and I couldn't find it anywhere.
    Posted By C, Middletown, CT : August 27, 2007 3:02 pm

    Come on, this isn't hard. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
    Not to mention the fact that Jefferson cited the establishment clause and the free exercise clause as supporting the separation of church and state. And there's the small matter of it being accepted in theory by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    August 27, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. Dball

    Yeah republicans... blame the people for living below sea level. How sad are you? Is it necessary to blame it on the victim? Honestly your president botched what should have been the biggest rescue operation on US soil ev er. We were a great country before these crooks took office, we still are great but we will have to atone for the past 7 years.

    To all republicans just remember its your fault.. The dollar fell

    Its your fault the world hates us.

    Its your fault we are so divided in this country.

    You must ATONE!!!

    August 27, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Dave, Franklin, TN

    Obama quoting the Bible is fine. The sad part is that Osama has more experience running a well-rounded organization than Obama does.

    August 27, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. kmichaels

    Jesus was talking about people making PERSONAL changes and changing the inner man. So, Obama takes the exact opposite approach and demands that the inner man does not need to change but he must be controlled, pampered and proteced by some government.

    Obama is lame. He does not have a clue about this man Jesus.

    Essentially Obama says that we need to put our trust in the arm of flesh. Hmmm, Jesus said to do just the opposite.

    August 27, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. Cooper Hightower, Columbia, S.C.

    "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" Jeremiah 1:5

    I guess he will use that one in his next speech reaffirming his pro-life stance


    August 27, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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