October 8th, 2007
08:45 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama: GOP doesn't own faith and values

Obama told an evangelical church in South Carolina: "I am confident we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (CNN) - After speaking to an evangelical church on Sunday in this traditionally conservative South Carolina city, Sen. Barack Obama said that Republicans no longer have a firm grip on religion in political discourse.

"I think its important particularly for those of us in the Democratic Party to not cede values and faith to any one party," Obama told reporters outside the Redemption World Outreach Center where he attended services.

"I think that what you're seeing is a breaking down of the sharp divisions that existed maybe during the nineties, when at least in politics the perception was that the Democrats were fearful of talking about faith, and on the other hand you had the Republicans who had a particular brand of faith that often times seemed intolerant or pushed people away," he said.

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Related video: Obama: 'Faith plays every role'

Related video : Obama goes after the 'God gap'

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- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Faith • South Carolina
soundoff (976 Responses)
  1. Mark, Yardley, PA

    Dear Editro:

    Can government do the work of God (Charity)?

    What I have read and understood from the Bible is that God and Jesus wants us to help each other by using our own time, treasure and talent and to give from our hearts ("Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." – 2 Corinthians 9:7). Nowhere have I found anything along the lines of "Go out and institute huge bureaucracies that will take money from some people at the point of a sword and give that money to other people as a politician sees fit."

    Our Founding Fathers were Christian and very pious men. They founded this country under strong Judeo-Christian tenets and reflected on their religious beliefs on all their decisions. They wrote nothing into the Constitution of any type of government "aid" to help the poor, children or anyone else on purpose. They wanted a very limited government for good reason. Limited government is the best way to ensure that freedom will be preserved. The Scottish philosopher Alexander Tytler, who lived during the time of the American Revolution and writing of the US Constitution, summed these views:

    "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure.

    From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years.

    These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage."

    There are many interesting questions if citizens rely on government to do "God's Work."

    If a government takes a portion of a man's wages and does good with it, has the man also done good? If a government takes away a portion of a woman's property and does evil with it, has the woman also done evil? When a rich man pays more in taxes than a poor person, is he more Godly? If the government then does evil, is he more to blame? A woman works for the government and uses other people's tax money and does "God Work" with it, is this government woman now a good/Godly woman? If I legally try to avoid paying taxes, does that not make me an "Ungodly" man?

    Today, the US government (federal, state and local) takes nearly 50% of a middle-class person's paycheck after all taxes are factored in (income taxes, Social Security, sales tax, real estate taxes, gas tax, death taxes, phone taxes, highway tolls, sad etc.). Uncle Sam will spend more money in just this year (2004) than it spent combined between 1787 and 1900 – even after adjusting for inflation. I cringe at those numbers. The Founding Fathers wanted nothing like the tax-consuming monster that we have as a government today. I also think of all the good work that could have be done if people were allowed to keep more of their own money and give it to organizations/people that they believe in their heart are doing God's work. Maybe it comes down to trust. Will people do the right thing with their own money or must a government take a huge chunk of it to do the "right things?"

    Except government rarely does anything right except for those tasks that were explicitly outlined in the Constitution as the Founding Father intended. I could cite many examples (such as where would you rather put $10,000 in retirement money – in Social Security or in your own 401k plan?) but the plight of black America illustrates this failure beyond comparison.

    In 1965, the US government was going to wipe out poverty by the "Great Society" programs, in which to date over 3.5 trillion dollars has been spent. These federal programs were designed to "help families and children" or "buy votes" depending on your political viewpoint.

    At the beginning of the 1960's, the black out of wedlock birth rate was 22%. In the late 1975 it reached 49% and shot up to 65% in 1989. In some of the largest urban centers of the nation the rate of illegitimacy among blacks today exceeds 80% and averages 69% nationwide. As late as the 1970's there was still a social stigma attached to a woman who was pregnant outside marriage. Now, government programs have substituted for the father and for black moral leadership. The black family and culture has collapsed (and white families are not that far behind).

    Illegitimacy leads directly to poverty, crime and social problems. Out of wedlock children are four times more likely to be poor. They are much more likely to live in high crime areas with no hope of escape. In turn, they are forced to attend dangerous and poor-performing government schools, which directly leads to another generation of poverty.

    Traditional black areas of Harlem, Englewood and West Philadelphia in the 1950s were safe working class neighborhoods (even though "poor" by material measures). Women were unafraid to walk at night and children played unmolested in the streets and parks. Today, these are some of the worst crime plagued areas of our nation. Work that was once dignified is now shunned. Welfare does not require recipients to do anything in exchange for their benefits. Many rules actually discourage work or provide benefits that reduce the incentive to find work.

    The black abortion rate today is nearly 40%. Pregnancies among black women are twice as likely to end in abortion as pregnancies among white and Hispanic women.

    The "Great Society" programs all had good intentions. Unfortunately, their real world results are that they have replaced the traditional/Christian models of family/work with that of what a government bureaucrat thinks it should be.

    I could make an excellent argument that if the US government had hired former grand wizards of the KKK to run the "Great Society" programs, and if they had worked every day from 1965 to today without rest, they could have hardly have done better in destroying black America than the "Works of God" that the government has done or is trying to do.

    I have visited many countries in which the government "guarantees" that everyone has a job, a place to live, education, health care and cradle to grave "government help" for all children and families. It all sounds great except that the people in these countries are/were miserable. They wanted to escape but were forced by their governments, at the end of a gun, to stay. The "worker's paradises" of socialist and communist counties are chilling reminders of letting governments do "God's Work."

    The Bible clearly states that we are to help those in need. The question is "Who should help those in need?" I firmly believe that scripture and the historical evidence strongly support that individuals, private organizations and churches should be the ones doing the heavy lifting. Government help should be the last resort. "Charity," enforced by the government, is not charity, it is extortion. "Charity," delivered by the government, is not charity, it is a bribe which corrupts both the giver and the receiver.

    Very Sincerely,

    Mark W
    Yardley, PA

    October 8, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. Anonymous

    You can be a man of faith and a politician. Seperation of church is critical but a prayer for being an instrument of God is not intolerable. The God of the church he was speaking to is a God of light yokes and hope for humanity not condemnation. This nation can find balance between our Judeo Christian roots and our secular society.

    October 8, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Ken, Tampa, FL

    Wow, just wow...I love this, you get to see conservatives in all their bigoted glory. Gee how many references did I read to Obama's race? How many of you conservative's actually believe Obama is a Muslim? Because you heard it on Fox?

    And I'm just amazed at how many of you cons think we're fighting Islam. I don't recall Congress declaring a holy war on Islam.

    As a liberal, I can assure you that I have never complained about a candidate campaigning in a church. I don't particularly like it, but it is a generally accepted part of American politics.

    Cons seem think that all liberals are alike and walking in lockstep. In reality liberals are so independent minded that for candidates like Obama, it’s like herding cats. In contrast, it seems like all it takes to herd republicans nowadays is to yell "911", "terror, terror, terror". They're scared rabbits who are always looking for monsters under their bed. I must have read a half a dozen references to beheadings or some other gruesome method of death at the hands of Muslim conquerors. In the con mind, they seem to have this fantasy that somehow our enemies are going to take over the country and force us to bow down to Communism, Socialism, or Islam.

    It comes down to this folks; the cons are just rehashing the same garbage that they always do when attacking people who don’t think like them. Instead of discussing how to fix our health care system, they just call Democrats communists. Instead of discussing how to get out of Iraq, they call Democrats traitors or worse. What I have learned about the cons is that they just want to shove their ideas down everyone’s throat. They don’t want discussion, they don’t want debate, they just want anyone who doesn’t agree with them to shut up and go away.

    October 8, 2007 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. Duane Palm Coast FL

    Obama will or hopes to having all the females wearing Berkas. What else could one expect from a EX MUSLIM.

    October 8, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. kevin naples

    When are we going to stop using the house of God to campaign?

    October 8, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Andrea Taylor, Penscola FL

    To be honest, I truly believe Mr. Obama is going to become one of our great leaders. Like a JFK, MLK, Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Obama is a God-send to us. He is destined for great things.

    His campaign is simply Beautiful.
    The movement he is creating is inspiring and loving.

    I am voting for Mr. Obama in the primary. Let's all support this once in a lifetime candidate by voting for him in our primaries.

    I know it is hard for some of you to accept goodness, when you are used to politicians like W. Bush and H. Clinton. Their days of reign are coming to an end. It's time to open a new door to American politics, ecomomic growth, world influence, and important domestic issues. Obama can help us get the things accomplished that will lead to this country being a lot better off than it is today.

    Vote for Obama and let's go change the world!

    October 8, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. Supercoupe, Detroit, Michigan

    I thought Obama was raised a Muslim?

    October 8, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. Tony G, Virginia

    I know religious people are a huge, massive portion of this great country of ours, but "do service to God"? Does that mean he'll be serving as President to God, or President to the People? Kinda scary when you think about it. And isn't there supposed to be Seperation of Church and State? Or does that not exist anymore?

    October 8, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  9. Sterling, VA

    Where is CNN's outrage over Obama calling for a Kingdom of God on Earth?Oh that's rght, he's a Democrat and not a Republican, so it's A-OK.

    October 8, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. VL, FTW TX

    Obama is an empty suit. The ONLY reason he is considered a "top tier" candidate is because of his skin color. PERIOD! He has no experience, no experience leading anything, and no backbone. If he were white, he'd be right there with Dodd in the polling. And please, spare me any remarks that I'm being racist. I'm telling it like it is.

    October 8, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  11. Jon, USA

    >> I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.

    Obama is dismissing GOD and states that 'we' can create this kingdom, without God. That's NOT faith, that's politics.

    The devil is in the details.

    October 8, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  12. Steve, Memphis,TN

    Interesting, Isn't this the same man that had to take the oath of office on the Koran? Now he is christian?

    October 8, 2007 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. Marco, Novato CA

    "social justice issues like AIDS and poverty " – how are AIDS and poverty "social justice" issues? What exactly does "social justice" mean in the context of a disease that is spread by careless unprotected sex, deviant practices, and drug use? It's about consequences of choices. Much of the same can be said about poverty: again, consequences of poor choices , for the most part. I resent the implication that these conditions are the result of some sort of conspiracy or inherent problem with society in general. It's all about personal responsibility. But sadly this type of journalism can be expected from the Communist News Network.

    October 8, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. Tom Bahel Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

    Dear Mr. Obama, If you would be so kind as to answer one question and perhaps clear up exactly what faith you have. Who do you say Jesus is ?

    October 8, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. Michael, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    You can always spot a drudge link by the number of morons that post inflammatory comments.

    October 8, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. Mitch, Pensacola, Florida

    I am over politicians talking about religion as if the Constitution was a religious document. They all seem to spit in the face of the architects of the Constitution by saying that religion was a part of it. If people really wanted to know the intent of the document, all they have to do is read the writings of some of the founders to understand that. They can also read the Treaty of Tripoli where JOhn Adams, and the Congress(a vast majority were christian)stated and signed that the US was not a christian nation and was not founded on christian principles. They seem to have a better grip on what our Nation is founded on than our more modern president and congress. Welcome back to the dark ages everyone.

    October 8, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. A. Connor, Suwanee GA

    If you believe in Jesus Christ, the words spoken by Obama are truly terrifying. The way that was said, he sounds like he wants to be the lord over his own kingdom. Daniel 2:44
    "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever."

    October 8, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  18. belter blythe ca

    sounds like the anti-christ

    October 8, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Terry, El Paso, TX

    What ARE those Republican values? Republican Congressmen pursuing relationships with teenaged interns with the knowledge of Republican leadership? Lobbyists for powerful industries writing laws that favor their own interests and Republicans passing them unchanged? Republican leadership demanding that the House and Senate pass legislation that hasn't been read yet by the membership of either party? Filthy understaffed hospitals for our veterans? Kinky sex photos of prisoners of war circulating the globe to our eternal shame (and the response of our government was to forbid cameras in the prison). A single Republican administration running up more national debt than all the presidents from Washington to Reagan combined? The famous Republican bridge to nowhere? The notorious toe-tapping Republican Senator from Idaho? The Abramoff scandal, where laws were bought and sold like pork chops? The Indian casino scandal in which Abramoff and Ralph Reed took millions in bribes from one Indian group to support their application to build a casino and simultaneously took millions from a competing Indian group who wanted the application turned down? The nomination and re-nomination of America's worst president at a time when leadership was desperately needed? Historians may now debate whether or not Bush was even more incompetent than Republican President Grant, previously believed to be the most incompetent president. They can also debate whether his administration was even more corrupt than Republican President Harding's, previously thought to be the most corrupt administration?

    Which of these typifies the core values of the values party? Which of them are your proudest of? Which of these accomplishments will our grandchildren praise us for, as we praise the accomplishments of the generation of World War II?

    Republicans had a chance to show us what Conservatism could really do for the country. They controlled the courts, the White House, and both houses of Congress. They sold their power to the highest bidders. They made us the object of world-wide ridicule and scorn.

    Values indeed!

    October 8, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  20. Ryan Allendale MI

    I liked this article until Obama said lets create a kingdom on earth which is defunct

    "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal".
    Matthew 6:19 (NIV)

    Instead one should be looking to building an eternal home

    October 8, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. Mary, St. Louis, Missouri

    I thank God everyday for Barack Obama and pray that American will begin to see what a person who truly lives his/her faith looks like. I am not in favor of abortin. But as a person of faith, I support Barack Obama because he respects those who disagree on this issue and everything else he works for and embodies a truly pro-life leadership!

    October 8, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Bob, Atlanta GA

    Well, you Democrats are right on time. It's about a year before the election, time to start telling evereyone how much you love God and are faithful. It seems to me that you never mention abortion or gay rights when you are speaking about your 'faith'. Sounds like Obama wants a theocracy. Don't you Dems all hate Bush for that? It's sometimes hard to keep up with you liberals and Democrats. You're always changing.

    October 8, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  23. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Obama is making clear sense here, and that has the ring-wing both puzzled and concerned!

    It's ok to speak of faith as long as you butter up to the established, zealot, right-wing faction in this country. But, don't ever attempt to rationalize the subject from the other side of the aisle unless you are a recognized right-wing, religious zealot of some standing!

    CLINTON/OBAMA – 2008!!!

    October 8, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  24. Andrea Taylor, Pensacola FL

    To get something straight:

    Obama is saying that he wants to do good and noble works. 'Kingdom on Earth' means he wants people to embellish the teachings of God - like exhibiting more love, peace, giving, togetherness - all the good things that God stands for.

    God represents all loving and caring religions - God is love and goodness.

    Obama is basically saying that he wants to to good works for his country.

    People stop being so mean and cynical. Open your hearts and minds - then you will be able to understand things that you were not able to grasp before.

    October 8, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. JRoDDz, NY, NY

    Kingdom on Earth? He should be seeking the Kingdom of Heaven.

    October 8, 2007 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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