Press "Enter" to skip to content

For the Umpteenth Time: If Obama Ain’t Christian, Ain’t Nobody Christian

AP reports on President Barack Obama's commitment to the Christian faith, which has only gotten deeper during his time in the White House:

Every year on Aug. 4, the president's birthday, Obama convenes a group of pastors by phone to receive their prayers for him for the year to come. During the most challenging of times, prayer circles are organized with prominent religious figures such as megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist.

And each morning for the past five years, before most of his aides even arrive at the White House, Obama has read a devotional written for him and sent to his BlackBerry, weaving together biblical scripture with reflections from literary figures like Maya Angelou and C.S. Lewis.

"I've certainly seen the president's faith grow in his time in office," said Joshua DuBois, an informal spiritual adviser to Obama who writes the devotionals and ran Obama's faith-based office until earlier this year. "When you cultivate your faith, it grows" [Josh Lederman, "Obama's Religion Is out of Spotlight But Christian Spirituality Serves During Tough Times," AP via Huffington Post, 2013.10.19].

Rev. Rep. Steve Hickey looks this report in the eye and says baloney:

Reading this you'd think he was a Bible thumper. Glad to hear some see evidence of a Christian faith. I detect nothing of the sort [Rev. Rep. Steve Hickey, Facebook post, 2013.10.19].

I maintain that if you can't take President Obama's words and actions as proof that he's Christian, then you can't really believe that anyone else is a Christian. There's more evidence available establishing that Barack Obama reads the Bible, prays, and goes to church than there is about you or anyone with whom you go to church.

And would someone please explain to me why it is so important to some Christians to prove that they are Christians and to prove that the President is not? Isn't it more important and more Christian to acknowledge that all are unworthy sinners—that you yourself are an unworthy sinner, as undeserving of God's grace as anyone else at whom you're pointing your finger—and to then focus on getting that plank out of your own eye?

President Obama says faith and prayer matter to him:

First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control—and my main responsibility is to love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. Now, I don’t always live up to that standard, but it is a standard I am always pursuing.

My faith is also a great source of comfort to me. I’ve said before that my faith has grown as president. This office tends to make a person pray more; and as President Lincoln once said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”

Finally, I try to make sure that my faith informs how I live my life. As a husband, as a father, and as president, my faith helps me to keep my eyes on the prize and focus on what is good and truly important [President Barack Obama, interview, "Faith in America," Cathedral Age, Midsummer 2012].

Ideology keeps people from seeing the plain fact of President Obama's prayerful faith. Pope Francis says prayer is key to Christianity, and ideology is Christianity's enemy:

“The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements.”

The Pope continued, Jesus told us: “You burden the shoulders of people [with] many things; only one is necessary.” This, therefore, is the “spiritual, mental” thought process of one who wants to keep the key in his pocket and the door closed: “The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh? Already the Apostle John, in his first Letter, spoke of this. Christians who lose the faith and prefer the ideologies. His attitude is: be rigid, moralistic, ethical, but without kindness. This can be the question, no? But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door” ["Pope Francis at Mass Calls for Greater Openness," Vatican Radio, 2013.10.17].

Even the Pope won't convince Christian denialists to get off their "Obama's not Christian!" hobby horse. But just remember: if Barack Obama doesn't have enough Christian ID to get past your church's bouncer, then nobody does.

And what do you have a bouncer in front of your church for, anyway?


  1. owen reitzel 2013.10.22

    "Reading this you'd think he was a Bible thumper. Glad to hear some see evidence of a Christian faith. I detect nothing of the sort."

    So how close are you to the President that you cannot "detect" that he's a Christian Rev. Hickey? Just because he doesn't throw out bible quotes doesn't mean he's not a Christian. The Christian thing with these right wingers is about as bad as the birther crap.

    But even if he wasn't a Christian-so what?

  2. Steve Hickey 2013.10.22

    Thanks for this post. I'm glad people are talking about what constitutes a true follower of Christ. Here are some additional statements from me in the FB post and one other - this some redundancy . I honestly feel this way about our President.

    It is a wonder to me people accept hook line and sinker the indications of piety his handlers and propaganda department are feeding the public. None of it is believable to me. Nothing he says is believable to me. His entire life is shrouded in mystery - sealed off and guarded by four law firms and millions of dollars to hide what? - I have no idea who he really is - I'm not even sure what his name really is. His philosophical fathers, mentors, advisors and friends are a frightening bunch to say the least- all extremely hostile to Christianity. We are known by the company we keep.

    I'd really like to believe this and as I read it I thought about the difference between a hearer or the word and a doer of the word. More interesting to me recently, evidences of this president's piety are being fed to the public by his handlers and propaganda people. Forgive my skepticism. Do you think the huffington post would be running these articles on a president's piety if Bush was in office? No way. But in Obama's case they are putting forth how wonderful of Christian he is. If it takes the medias help to convince people you are really a Christian maybe the usual fruits are missing.

    This is a sampling of things the cause Christians to scratch their heads:

  3. interested party 2013.10.22

    Accompaniment for AG Jackley's lawsuit affirming religionism ObamaCare exception: great swerve, Steve.

  4. interested party 2013.10.22

    and for my garments they cast video lottery....

  5. Douglas Wiken 2013.10.22

    Nothing quite like a fundamentalist politician preacher to make agnosticism and atheism look good.

  6. Steve 2013.10.22

    "And would someone please explain to me why it is so important to some Christians to prove that they are Christians and to prove that the President is not?"

    The answer is simple: this allows detractors to paint the President as "the other." If he is not like "us" then treating him like an enemy is easier - even required and justified. When on a witch hunt, the first step is the creation/defining of the witch.

  7. Steve 2013.10.22

    Steve wrote: "Do you think the huffington post would be running these articles on a president's piety if Bush was in office?"

    I think that statement is unfair in context. The HP (granted, left leaning) isn't publishing these articles in a vacuum. The articles you speak of come in answer to the wild speculation and unfounded attacks on the President's faith.

    The more to the point question I pose is why were you, and others that attack the current President's faith now, not attacking Bush's when he was in office? What remarkable show of faith did Bush have (that Obama has not) that alleviated you fears of a non-christian Commander in Chief?

    I don't think you get to complain that the man is defended AFTER being attacked. That's the way it works.

  8. David Newquist 2013.10.22

    Steve sees where this thread is going. The only way to assure ourselves about Obama's Christianity is to take him captive--white robes and hoods optional-- put him in a dunking chair, or press him by putting him under a board panel and pile rocks on him until he confesses the true state of his soul. It is so good to know that people are practicing the great Christian principles that motivated the founding of our nation. Maybe the experience will teach Obama and his kind to properly shuffle and defer to his masters.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.22

    A witch?! Throw him in the water! If he sinks, he's good! If he floats, he's evil! If he gets up and walks... uh oh!

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.22

    Pastor Steve (not to be confused with plain old Steve above :-) ) is claiming that there are certain statements that cause Christians to scratch their heads. But what Christians? I don't see any Christians. Pastor Steve hasn't proven to me that any of those head scratchers are Christians. Just because he says they are Christians, am I supposed to believe they are Christians? Hearsay! Poppycock! They're all atheists, not to be trusted!

  11. jerry 2013.10.22

    Mr. Hickey, I question your "piety". Why should we readers accept your "hook line and sinker" claims to your own Christian beliefs. I want the proof in a video of you at the Reptile Gardens, barefoot and dressed only in a thong, handling the rattlesnakes on a late August day. As long as you are acting with the racism you are, after the handling of the rattlesnakes, then the same treatment with a Black Mamba.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2013.10.22

    Not since President Kennedy's Catholicism, has the issue of a President's christian beliefs or religion been a call for national debate. We all know that if President Obama's skin color was different no one would care.

    Having read numerous biographies and autobiographies on the Presidents, the one recurring theme was that for many their faith in christian beliefs grew stronger as their presidencies endured obstacles and failures, as well as success. This is probably true of President Obama as well.
    The haters would do well to remember that they lost two national elections promoting this garbage.
    Truth to tell, these judgmental fanatics are no position to question the faith of anyone, including the President's. And in fact when they question the faith of any man, I question their's.

  13. SDBlue 2013.10.22

    People like Steve Hickey are the reason this recovering Catholic embraced atheism. I don't question our President's faith. I see a compassionate man who has love and respect for the entire human race. Mr. Hickey? Not so much.

  14. gw 2013.10.22

    These Christians are starting to creep me out

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.22

    Wow. So many great responses here. Doug, with whom I disagree often and strongly, nailed it. Jana, Gw, David, Cory. Yeah. The things you've said here are exactly what makes so many Christians cringe. Christian Arrogance is a complete and absolute contradiction in terms.

    I believe Obama is a Christian. Why? One of the reasons is that he is not consumed with judging the faith of others. Another is that he's a sinner. Just like me. Just like the politician/preacher Hickey. That's the thing that unites all human beings - that damn imperfection thing. Christians understand it as sin. Apparently to Hickey and other preacher/politicians like Pat Robertson and that Florida Koran burning idiot, if you're not perfectly Christian according to their bizarre standards, you are probably evil, at the least not a 'real' Christian.

    Sigh. Where did Christianity get so twisted and distorted?

  16. Rorschach 2013.10.22

    Why does anyone care one way or the other whether the President has GOP State Rep. Steve Hickey's seal of approval?

    When Rep. Hickey says, "Nothing he says is believable to me" and "I have no idea who he really is - I'm not even sure what his name really is" it's an indication that GOP Rep. Hickey suffers from a widespread affliction among the most partisan of GOPpers - Obama Derangement Syndrome. Once someone has gone full ODS to the extent they still believe the birther nonsense, they simply can't be reasoned with.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.22

    Nailed it Rorschach!

  18. owen reitzel 2013.10.22

    I'd like to thank Rev HIckey for commenting here. I think the discourse has been good. Far better then then a liberal like me would get on the DWC.
    That being said I tend to agree with Roger. Whether it's Obama's religion or where he was born has been under scrutiny since he became President and continues to this day. When was the last time a white President was put under this same spotlight. Kennedy, as Roger said, did for being a Catholic. Never, that I know of, has a President been questioned on where he was born. Obama has offered proof and this people think its fake. The only reason that I think this is happening because he's black.
    I don't think you're a racist Reverend, but you are going along with these racist people.
    I believe and the evidence suggest that he's a Christian. But even if he wasn't and he was a Muslim or even an atheist Obama wouldn't be disqualified from being President.
    My question Rev. Hickey is it the Christian thing to do to take away affordable health insurance to people who've never had it before? Is it the Christian thing to do to cut Food Stamps to the poor or the elderly? Is it the Christian thing to do cut entitlements programs like Social Security and Medicare?
    These issues are what we should be talking about, not whether Obama is a Christian or not.

  19. Jenny 2013.10.22

    Please, fight the real enemy! Who cares what religion the president is. I urge everyone to watch the film - An Inside Job - which is about all the criminal activity that goes continuously between Congress, the presidency, Wall Street and all those lobbyists. Until laws change this will continually go on, and Obama is just as much at fault at Bush was.

  20. Roger Cornelius 2013.10.22

    And, let's not forget the Sarah Palin and GOP attacks on President Obama attending the church where Rev. Wright was the preacher. Regardless of Rev. Wright's sermons, it was a recognized church just as the gutter of religion Westboro Baptist is a church. President Obama was a christian than, but not now.

  21. Jana 2013.10.22

    I actually went to the site Pastor Steve linked to...very interesting site. Pretty much a Tea Party - Don't Tread on Me - Gubbint is bad kind of place. The editor says that he lives in US occupied South Carolina. Nice. Makes me wonder where the good Rev gets his inspiration.

    The quotes Steve is looking at shows either that he wasn't curious enough to read them in context or that he has the hate of Jesus in his heart for other religions.

    Respecting another religion is not the same as practicing it. Of course in a scorched earth mentality like the GOP currently has, it's not hard to see where people like Steve form their opinions.

    This article also helps understand the hypocrisy of the GOP.

    Here's a snip:

    "Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of - and many of whose followers are -- the most hard-line anti-Christian atheist/s you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin’s evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism! "

  22. Mark 2013.10.22

    Religion. Sex. Politics. Seems to get some in trouble. A little "judge not, lest ye be judged" goes a long way, sometimes...

  23. Bill Dithmer 2013.10.22

    Jana what an absolutely great read. I like this quote.

    "So how did so much of Christianity come to reject socialism? That is not hard to figure out. In the early Protestant Netherlands, Switzerland and England capital became the dominant economic driver. Of course members of a religion want to think that God approves of what they are up to. So many (but not all) Protestants began to cherry pick those Biblical passages that could be massaged to seemingly support laissez-faire markets while pretty much ignoring those that clearly don’t. This works because, as surveys show, most Christians don’t actually read the bulk of the Bible, and people are mentally skilled at dismissing the awkward passages they do come across. Christians really took the theory that God is pro-capital to its extreme in what has be come the least socialistic and most Jesus-following of the advanced democracies, the USA, where many see the nation as an exceptional, God blessed “Shining City on the Hill” they think stands as the exemplar of Godly capitalism to the world."

    I'm disappointed. I thought THE CHURCH OF BILL was something completely different but in reality it looks like my for profit church of socially unacceptable bad behavior is just par for the course.

    Hey Hickey, pass the bong. And while your at it I'm a little short tonight can you spot me a couple bucks for the stripper?

    It's starting to look like there isn't anymore sin going on here at THE CHURCH OF BILL then there is at the Hickey Hog Trough.

    It's time to "belly up to the bar boys." The only question that needs to be answered now is, your church or mine.

    Hickey you disgust me. Not because you believe in God, but because you are trying to make everyone else think that she believes in you. WTF.


    The Blindman

  24. Jana 2013.10.22

    I will give Pastor Hickey credit for exploring an IM for reigning in South Dakota as the capital for predatory lending and the Biblical sin of usury...until he bravely ran away. Gotta love Monty Python.

  25. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.22

    Blindman, you are my hero of the Christian faith!

  26. Roger Cornelius 2013.10.22

    After taking a look at Rev (?) Hickey's Facebook page, it is apparent that President Obama conducts himself in more of true christian ethical manner than the Rev.(?) does. The President demonstrates it daily with his compassion and decency every day, if one would take their racial blinders off, they would see it too.
    In today's political jargon we often use words that become meaning less by there over use, hypocrisy is one of them.
    After reading his political filth cloaked in high moral christianity, I no longer feel the need to be civil.
    He is hypocrite in the highest form. As he prospers politically and financially with his tax exempt status as a church, he has the unmitigated gall to rant about taxes and Obamacare and social programs for the poor while not paying taxes. I think that is some kind of sin.
    Good Grief, even the queen of the birthers, Orley Taitz, gave up the fight sometime back, talk about hanging on to a myth.
    The good news is that the Rev (?) Hickey is mostly irrelevant anyway and will join his place in history and in hell with other haters.

  27. Bill Dithmer 2013.10.22

    From my favorite musical of all times, both in movie form and on the boards. I saw the play at the Black Hills Playhouse sometime in the sixties. I was hooked. If only church could be this much fun.

    Instead we have to put up with acting from places like "THE HICKEY MOUSE CLUB." Such things can only be seen as amusing if you are drunk or stoned and should never be misconstrued as real entertainment. After all there's no peep hole.

    Or is there?

    The Blindman

  28. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.22

    I think the tone of the comments here reflects the spreading awakening of evangelicals in the USA. We see more and more rejection of climate degradation, teabagger economics, and social services slashing.

    The influence of people like Dobson, Robertson, Perkins, and similar politician/preachers has declined precipitously. Pope Francis, in addition to US Roman Catholic bishops, has soundly denounced Ryan's budget plans.

    Those voices are taken less and less seriously, except among the small percentage of 'true believers' who support sociopathic types like Cruz. The end of an ugly movement is not any prettier than what preceded that end.

  29. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.22

    Good grief Blindman! Debbie Reynolds must have lost 25 pounds doing that number! She was so incredibly talented. And a tiny bit nuts.

  30. grudznick 2013.10.23

    This Mr. Hickey pastor fellow sure has gotten a lot of goats this time around. I don't have a god in this fight as long as you don't try and shove yours down my maw ala that tax cheater fellow from Hermosa. But goodness is it really this important to be attacking anybody's thoughts about what they think they believe in?

    Just don't shove your god down my maw, and I'm OK with it. But shove it down my maw and I will go all Howie on you.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.23

    It is important, grudz, to challenge people who perpetuate a malicious lie by rejecting plain facts that we accept as bona fides for just about anyone else in our lives. It is also important to challenge bad ideology coming from pastors and elected officials.

  32. grudznick 2013.10.23

    I suppose you are right on that, Mr. H.
    I suppose it is also right to challenge people who just call things bad ideas because they don't like them as well.
    You, sir, are correct.

  33. Bill Dithmer 2013.10.23

    Deb you are right about being a little bit nuts. She's not the only one. For a couple of months after I saw the play, whenever I was out working cattle riding by myself I would sing that song at the top of my lungs. You talk about a worm in my ear.

    At least it wasnt "If I were a rich man." That would have been hard for a teen age boy to explain here in South Dakota. "Oy vey."

    The Blindman

  34. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.23

    Yeah, I love those old musicals. Fiddler is one of the very best!

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.23

    Deb, can we be sure we're reaching the ugly end of that movement, that the number of people who will vote for Cruz and be swayed by crazy allegations that Obama somehow isn't one of us is declining?

  36. Douglas Wiken 2013.10.23

    "I suppose it is also right to challenge people who just call things bad ideas because they don't like them as well."

    Might also be a good idea to challenge people who think a bad idea is a good idea. Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Warren Buffett think the XL pipeline is something to agree on. XL proves all three of them can be wrong at the same time.

  37. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.23

    Cory, here is a very surprising bit of info I read in WSJ: The new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, (Richard Land resigned and I don't recall the new guy's name.), is urging evangelical/fundamentalist types to back off politics and avoid becoming "a mascot" for a political party. Seriously. The article, which has disappeared on me, included similar comments from other e/f leaders. That's pretty big news for right-wingers.

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.23

    Ah! Russell Moore! I heard him claim in August that being a Christian is no longer "culturally helpful" in America. I think he's overstoking the Christian persecution complex there. Why else would so many of his fellow believers spend their time deluding themselves and trying to delude others into thinking the President they so dislike is not a Christian?

    I see the WSJ article you're talking about, in which Moore makes the mascots warning and says younger evangelicals feel a "visceral recoil" from the culture war. A chart there says Southern Baptist membership has been declining since 2009. Moore says church leaders need to be "winsome, kind, and empathetic."

    Hmmm... with talk like that, I wonder if Moore is really a Christian.

  39. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.23

    Thanks for finding it.
    The Persecuted Christian thing is beyond completely ludicrous. What is happening is they are experiencing a slight decrease in their level of hegemony. It's not absolute in America any longer. The same backlash has/is happening with regard to equality for women. While males continue to possess economic, political and social dominance in the US and indeed, the entire planet, it's less absolute.

    I imagine the same sense is true any time the overwhelmingly dominant group detects some diminishment. In general, America is seeing incremental changes in dominance. We do live in interesting times.

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.23

    The shift from absolute dominance to mere dominance with ned for accommodation is surely jarring enough to feel like a crushing defeat.

  41. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.23

    Cory, I just read something interesting written by David Schultz. I think I've referred to him before. He is a prof at Hamline University in St. Paul. His blog is He will soon be in Moscow providing lectures about America and our government. The post I'm referencing will be his first lecture. The title is "Making Sense of American Politics in the Age of Barack Obama."

    A good share of it is American Political Structure 101, but there is some interesting material too. There is a James Madison quote that is new to me and informative. You might enjoy skimming the post.

  42. Roger Cornelius 2013.10.23

    Could it be that Americans are not falling away from christian beliefs at all, but are falling away from fundamentalist and evangelical religion. There is a distinct difference. Religion and churches are failing to keep up with contemporary beliefs and lifestyles as the Pope has stated so well.
    As far as this business of "christian persecution", and their supposed victimization, the Rev (?) Hickey, Roberston, et al, invite it. It is not christian persecution at all, it is rejection of idiocy by faux religious leaders.

  43. Jana 2013.10.23

    Well put Roger. I stopped attending my own church when they glorified the Iraq war and began to worship the money behind the GOP faithful donors and lost sight of who they were supposed to worship.

    They did build a dandy new addition to the church though. Sure glad they didn't have to bury any of the dead who served for a lie and war of choice.

  44. Jana 2013.10.23

    Jerry's post on the ACA thread deserves to be posted here as well.

    "When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he's going to ask you what you did for the poor. You'd better have a good answer."

  45. Jana 2013.10.23

    Of course you could substitute "keeping government small" with "promoting the free market" or any of the many other hypocritical GOP platitudes.

  46. Roger Cornelius 2013.10.23

    God will certainly condemn the poor for squandering what he gave them and give heavenly rewards to the GOP for taking advantage of the poor to gain their riches. If that is the idea of a heavenly reward, I don't want to go there.

    Even with a high school and college Jesuit education I left the Catholic Church sometime ago. I struggled to maintain my Catholic affiliation for years, but when I realized the demeaning treatment of women, my mother was a woman, and the male superiority of inferior males along with other issues, I had enough. This is generally true of most religions.

Comments are closed.