Jewish Journal

Obama on why he became a Christian

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 29, 2010 | 9:17 am


Responding to a trio of spicy questions in Albuquerque, President Obama “expounded Tuesday on the reasons he became a Christian as an adult.” At least that’s how The New York Times characterized Obama’s answer. Here’s what he said:

“I’m a Christian by choice,” the president said. “My family, frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. My mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew but she didn’t raise me in the church, so I came to my Christian faith later in life and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead. Being my brothers and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me, and I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes and we achieve salvation through the grace of God.”

Mr. Obama went on: “But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do, that’s what I pray to do every day.’’ Yet he said that as president, he also “deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith.’’

It’s an interesting statement, packed with theological nuggets. But it also hints, at least to my reading, that Obama was drawn to Christianity because he felt a need for spirituality and he liked some of its tenants, like the Golden Rule. Then again, he does talk specifically about Jesus dying for him, so maybe I’m being unfairly cynical.

Though the presidential family was criticized for not even church shopping when they arrived in Washington, Obama has been open about his faith before. His Christian faith, not Islam.

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