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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Obama Answers Question 'Why Are You a Christian? (Full Video and Text)

I see that most news outlets are focusing on President Barack Obama's answer to a question he got today in Albuquerque's South Valley that asked, "Why are you a Christian?" You won't see coverage of much else Obama had to say because, you know, this one deals with a meme that members of the "mainstream" media and right-wing operatives have long been pushing -- wowie, zowie, is Obama really a, you know, Muslim? Yikes!

In reality, the woman who posed the question said she was asking it because Mother Theresa had also been asked that question and she had loved her answer, which she had read in an article. Simple. She wasn't questioning whether or not he was a Muslim. And she wasn't "grilling" Obama as some news orgs are saying.

I also wanted to post the President's entire answer, in context, because most news outlets like to provide only a couple lines, leaving out Obama's discussion regarding the fact that its essential for America to embrace people of all faiths, no faith and everything in between.

See Mary Ellen's video above for the entire exchange, which also included a question about abortion. The full transcript of the question and answer is posted below.


Q Hello, Mr. President. Thank you for coming to the South Valley.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it’s great to be here.

Q It’s really a great opportunity, and I thank the Cavalier family for inviting me and my husband. I have three questions and they’re kind of hot topic questions and I’ll just -- THE PRESIDENT: All three of them?

Q All three of them. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You didn’t slip in like sort of a easy, boring one in there with the --

Q No. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: All right, let’s hear them.

Q One of them is basically -- Mother Teresa answered it in an article and I was going to ask you the same because I loved her answer. The first one is: Why are you a Christian? Second one is, there’s really no laws about the abortion law and when a woman can and can’t have an abortion, whether it’s two months or eight months, and what is your view on that? And the third one -- it’s not as -- it is a hot topic but it’s literally a hot topic, and it’s about my husband’s chili peppers. (Laughter.) And that was my question: Would you please take some chili peppers home with you? One is a habanero.

THE PRESIDENT: I will definitely check out these chili peppers. I like spicy food to go with your spicy questions. (Laughter.)

Q Spicy.

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I’m a Christian by choice. My family didn’t -- frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. And 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 that we achieve salvation through the grace of God. 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.

And so that’s what I strive to do. That’s what I pray to do every day. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith. And it’s -- but the one thing I want to emphasize, having spoken about something that obviously relates to me very personally, as President of the United States, I’m also somebody who deeply believes that the -- part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith -- that this is a country that is still predominantly Christian. But we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own. And that’s part of what makes this country what it is.

Now, with respect to the abortion issue, I actually think -- I mean, there are laws both federal, state and constitutional that are in place. And I think that this is an area where I think Bill Clinton had the right formulation a couple of decades ago, which is abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. I think that it’s something that all of us should recognize is a difficult, sometimes -- oftentimes tragic situation that families are wrestling with.

I think the families and the women involved are the ones who should make the decision, not the government. But I do think actually that there are a whole host of laws on the books that after a certain period, the interests shift such that you can have some restrictions, for example, on late-term abortions, and appropriately so. So there is in fact a set of rules in place.

Now, people still argue about it and still deeply disagree about it. And that’s part of our -- that’s part of our democratic way.

All right, next. I want to make sure I get everybody in.

September 28, 2010 at 07:02 PM in Faith Community, Minority Issues, Obama Administration, Religion | Permalink


Moving right along. Yes, the country was founded on freedom of religion, or from it, for God's sake.

Posted by: bg | Sep 28, 2010 7:58:46 PM

Why does it matter what religion the President chooses? It shows that there is really no tolerance among Americans. Gore did not get a lot of votes in 2000 because he had an Orthodox Jew as a running mate. America is like a very young child. She is not ready for diversity and suffers from stunted growth so we will have this forever. When it comes to women, America is very cruel and cannot fathom a woman not wanting to have a baby and choosing abortion.

Posted by: obeah | Sep 29, 2010 8:27:46 AM

I also got a nasty e-mail from a co-worker who claims "we" have to retake Canada and show them how America and Canada are Christian nations. Again, abortion is only a way to punish women. The woman is stuck with the kid while whatever sleaze knocked her up is off scot free. Why aren't the pro-lifers protesting the homes of men who pay no child support or the men who batter their pregnant wives if they care so much about the Almighty Fetus and Baby.

Posted by: obeah | Sep 29, 2010 8:29:40 AM

Mary Ellen, this is wonderful. I do agree with you, it is hard to get a true sense of his answers without the video. This video illustrates his knowledge and thoughtfulness. I liked the comment of the bedrock of our nation embraces those with many faiths and those with no faith.
Cornelia Lange

Posted by: Cornelia Lange | Sep 29, 2010 5:09:43 PM