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. bob dallas tx


    August 26, 2007 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  2. Anonymous


    August 26, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  3. Ralph Erthanu -- Princeton, NJ

    Obama - what a hippocrate...does he "invoke the Bible" when he signs legislation allowing for late term abortions? Does he invoke it when the helpless babies (yes, they're humans) are lying half dead on a table and his legislation in Illinois prevented the doctor from putting the helpless infant out of it's misery or giving it a chance to live by providing state-of-the-art medical care? Sorry, but folksy sayings on the anniversary of a tragedy like Katrina is one thing but killing babies is another. Obama...God is watching you man...he is watching.

    August 26, 2007 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  4. Mark, River Ridge LA

    As a resident of the New Orleans area, I'm pretty tired of the rhetoric against us trying to rebuild our city. How would people in earthquake prone areas feel if they were called "stupid" for rebuilding on top of an active fault line afetr a devastating earthquake? How about places that flood during many spring thaws time and again? What if you were told pack up, leave your roots and families and NEVER come back.

    I agree that some areas may not be the best to re-populate, but please try to remember these are peoples homes and this isn't something that occurs year in and year out.

    As we all saw with our levee failures, the bridge collapse in Minn and other catastrophic engineering failures/disasters many of our local, state and federal infrastructures are in poor shape, at best.

    Instead of the usual bipartsan bickering, we need leaders that are going to address all the problems our country faces in the next four years and beyond.

    To all of you in the Midwest you are in our thoughts and prayers during your floods. Been there, done it, still waiting for help. GOOD LUCK!

    August 26, 2007 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. Leroy Butler, Gonzales, Louisianna

    New Orleans LOCAL and LA STATE LEADERS need to be held accountable for not having an adequate plans to deal with the realities of a CAT 4 storm hitting NOLA. You all have known that this would happen for how many years? 20? 30? 40? Yet the gist of the plan was to tell these poor people to take 3 days of supplies and go to the super dome? how pitiful. These people were so poor many didnt have the money or means to buy the supplies. Your welfare system made them dependant on the government for everything, and then YOU left them to fend for themselves. Shame on you! But, its so much easier to blame Bush or someone else, so go right ahead. What is totally idiotic is that it will happen again if you rebuild those neighborhoods. I dont want New Orleans rebuilt like it was. that is a total waste of money and resources.

    why would you want to live in a bowl surrounded by soup? it makes no sense. time to move on.

    I dont want it rebuilt! And Obama is a sham.

    August 26, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  6. R. Hendrix Winnfield, Louisiana

    So what if his record is "paper-thin"
    Recall the record of our 16th President: a short stint in a state legislature, 1 term in the House of Rep and 2 failed Senate races, and then he saved this country

    August 26, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    If he were white christian and republican...the pastor would be in JAIL

    August 26, 2007 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  8. Lawrence, ATL

    How many feet under sea level is the area got flooded. I am as sorry as the next person that some people have lost their homes. It is truly sad to see pictures and video of the areas. But let me ask any of you: Would you go invest money in an area that is likely to end up in the same condition the next time a major hurricane comes through? Use your heads – not your hearts. Find them a home some where else. It's just plain stupid to rebuild there. But then again, it's not your money that gets spent down there to rebuild. It's someone else's, isn't it?

    August 26, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  9. William, El Paso, TX

    It is frightening how weak the Dems are with their potential presidential candidates. Obama is a flyweight, Hillary is a boor, and Edwards is a kook. What is also frightening is that there are enough dumb people in the US that maybe any one of these incompetents could actually be elected. Think of the bell curve and it relates to intelligence. Half the folks are to the left, or "dumb", and half the folks are to the right, or "intelligent". Of course, there are shadings in there, but most of my friends who are liberals are stunningly stupid. I assume all liberals are stupid, because of the liberals I can stand to converse with. I think it could boil down to just one more stupid person voting that an intelligent one. BANG! We have a true lightweight in the White House. We deserve it if it happens.

    August 26, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. Scott, Houton TX

    Our foundation WAS built upon a rock until goons like you, Billary, the ACLU to name a few came in and started chipping away at the rock foundation by killing unborn babies and taking God out of schools.

    August 26, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. KD, Everett, WA

    Sounds like he's endorsing faith-based initiatives. I can imagine what the outcry would be if Bush went to New Orleans and said that the problem with America was that we weren't built firmly enough on the "rock" of religious faith.

    August 26, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  12. Dan, Puyallup WA

    Why is it these Dems also are speaking in churches? Don't they ever go there to LISTEN??

    August 26, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. Marty, Franklin, TN

    Creation is proof there is a Creator (see Romans 1), and our conscience bears witness to His Law (see Romans 2)... so every single human being will be without excuse when you face your Maker when you die (see Hebrews 9:27).

    The Scripture passage Senator Obama quoted (Matthew 7:24,25) need to be taken in context... maybe at least read the whole chapter... maybe he should have quoted Matthew 7:15-23... nah, you won't hear politicians quoting that.

    But the truth is that it depends not upon your "free will" to choose Jesus and "accept" Him... dear friends, the question is, "Has the Father given you to the Son?" For Jesus Christ said these words...

    "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." (John 6:37) and "... no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65)

    "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6:37)

    Everybody knows John 3:16... but have you heard John 3:36... "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."

    The law drives us to Christ. Just check out the 10 Commandments? Have you kept them? Are you guilty of breaking God's Law? All you who have bad things to say about Christians... stop looking at us... and look to Christ! We are not saved by our righteousness... but His alone... we are saved by grace through faith... it is a gift of God (see Ephesians chapters 1 and 2).

    And politicians should stop taking God's Word out of context to pander. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Senator Obama is a member of a heretical church that panders to the world. The "judge not lest ye be judged" crowd should again read Jesus' words, "You shall know them by their fruits."

    "...the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4)

    You will die one day... it could be today... what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Has Christ removed the blinders for you to see the light of the gospel? Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Repent and believe the gospel, I implore you.

    And I'm sure all this will make many of you VERY angry, for again Jesus said... "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:19)

    Why would you die in your sins? Eternity is a long time. Think about it when you lay your head on your pillow tonight.

    August 26, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  14. Roger, Springfield, IL

    About Obama's Illinois Senate experience. He considers Sen. Emil Jones his "mentor". To those of you not familiar with Illinois politics- that's scary. 😉

    August 26, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  15. ToddonCapeCod

    Carolina Dude, you're a little off.
    A Barack-Edwards ticket would send the GOP into convulsions of laughter!
    That would virtually guarantee a Republican presidency to continue, almost indefinitely! Bless you!
    And where are the shrieks of "Separation of Church and State"?
    If this were a Republican, speaking in a church, you know it would be the main story opening every newscast for the next three weeks!

    August 26, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  16. bob, des moines iowa

    I wonder if Americans United for Separation of Church and State will demand that the IRS take away that church's tax exempt status for such blatant political activity. Historically, they have done nothing when it comes to left-leaning churches getting into politics.

    August 26, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  17. John, KC,KS


    Glad to see there are lots of ppl out there who are literate and realize Obama took that parable WAY out of context. Even if you don't believe the Bible or at worst think that parable predates the Bible, its horrible that Obama uses for his own gain...

    Even worse the church ate it up and took his words over Christ's...

    August 26, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. Mark, Covington, LA

    Where is this guy getting his information? I work in N.O. and live in the metro. area, and there are more jobs available than ever.

    August 26, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  19. John, Las Vegas, NV

    Obama is an inexperienced young man, that's all, and it shows. God help our country if that guy is the best we can produce to be President. I'd feel a lot better if he was running for Mayor of a small city.

    August 26, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  20. Tom, Muskegon MI

    It's frightening that a political candidate would invoke one of the most well-known and beloved passages of the Bible and get it COMPLETELY wrong.

    The rock Jesus was referring to was Himself...not some hokey "brotherhood." We are to build our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ alone...when brotherhood in the name of Christ will follow.

    August 26, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  21. MMorry

    Abortion? What about war?

    As far as I'm concerned, both of them are wrong–BOTH ARE KILLING.

    Christians need to stop talking about abortion as if it's the only sin that God abhors. There are PLENTY OF OTHER SINS HE HATES ALSO.

    Such as self-indulgent, hypocrites, phony religious the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes (and some posters on this board).

    Many Christians today have lost their credibility by preaching against one form of sin (e.g., abortion), while indulging another (e.g., adultery, lying, theft, etc.)

    Even more: Christ reminded us that WE ARE ALL IN NEED OF MERCY, so that our focus should not be on judging our brother, but on ourselves.

    Also, where we judge others we condemn ourselves, because those of us who judge do the same things.

    Look in the mirror, pal! There's your problem.

    August 26, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  22. WALTERS, A

    To the attention of DAvid powell and Rea of Sunnyvale.
    I'm no religious expert but Obama preaching of not building our foundation on a rock meaning our faith was not built on christ or his values of considering your neighbour as yourself in moments of joy and sadness. that is why people could wait for days without assistance during those tragic days with our authorities showing no sense of empathy.
    Rea, you just proof to me how ignorant and fanatic u are.The world is seriously divided because of extremist like u.Remember an extremist must not necessarily come from a muslim faith but he who can't accept someone else way of life. U should disagree with Obama's opinions than to criticise him because of his color or because he spent some years in Indonesia makes him a muslim. Remember Jesus was born of Jewish parents but he brought Christianity although the vast majority of Jews still practice Judaism,Christians or missionaries who brought christianity to Africa and change their Cultural worship latter contradicted the mission with Slavery. So we should just practice what we think is beneficial to enhance human potentials and dignity. Questions like is America ready for a black president still goes back to imply that a black man is a subhuman or not equitable to a human. Thank God most people don't think that way and we should enhance with productivity in our national debates than trivialities potraying how ignorant an uninformed we are.
    Most children born in the Middle East stand a greater chance to be Muslim, Hindusim and Budhism from India, Orthodox from Russia just to name a few. Life could be bettter if we learn to disagree without being Disagreeable.
    Thank, U

    August 26, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  23. Jay Houston, TX

    In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, the rock doesn't represent " a principle of church brotherhood" as Obama put it. It represents hearing and doing the word of God.

    August 26, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. Dan, Cambridge, Taxachusetts

    The sure sign of someone who does not belive in global warming? Agreeability to rebuilding New Orleans...

    August 26, 2007 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  25. Bryan, Atlanta GA

    Edwards and Obama,
    It is good thing that Edwards recently divested of his holdings in a comapny that profited from the misfortunes of Katrina victims

    Edwards was paid $479,512 in 2006 for consulting work for Fortress and had $16 million invested with the firm.

    His campaign said Edwards would divest any holdings tied to lenders trying to foreclose on victims of the devastating August 2005 hurricane, but gave no specific figure.

    The working man's friend indeed!

    August 26, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
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