Christian Group Mailer Claims Obama Believes ‘We Are No Longer a Christian Nation’

Back in 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama gave a speech at the Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America conference. These were his prepared remarks:

… we first need to understand that Americans are a religious people. 90 percent of us believe in God, 70 percent affiliate themselves with an organized religion, 38 percent call themselves committed Christians, and substantially more people in America believe in angels than they do in evolution.

This religious tendency is not simply the result of successful marketing by skilled preachers or the draw of popular mega-churches. In fact, it speaks to a hunger that’s deeper than that – a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause…

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

It’s trademark Obama-circa-2006. Not overtly alienating anybody. Speaking about how we are one nation. How we must come together.

It’s clear, though, that despite the mention of the word “nonbelievers” (which is appreciated), it’s not pro-secular at all. If anything, it speaks to how religious our nation is now — except that Christianity is no longer the only faith that matters.

Why bring this all up now?

Because Focus on the Family’s political wing, CitizenLink, just sent out a mailer to voters in Iowa and they make it sound like Obama’s anti-Christian:

Check out the upper left-hand quotation from Obama:

“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.”

Wait, what? In the speech quoted above, Obama said, “we are no longer just a Christian nation.” But what’s four letters between friends, right? Hell, I’m thinking of four letters right now…

As it turns out, though, when Obama delivered the speech, he accidentally stumbled through that line. So what was actually recorded was this:

Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation — at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

To anyone with a brain, the sentiment is the same.

In either case, the quotation — technically correct, but completely taken out of context by Focus on the Family — was meant in support of religion diversity in America. If it’s “anti-Christian” in the least, it’s only in the sense that not all Americans are Christians. That’s not slander. That’s a fact.

And that must be why they take such great pains to avoid it.

They’re a Christian Right group. They can’t handle the truth, even when it supports their side.

(I also love the bit about same-sex marriage. Apparently, Obama hates marriage so much that he wants to make sure gay and lesbian couples can, um, get married.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Thomas Lawson

    True. If we were still a Christian nation we’d still be burning, drowning, and killing its native inhabitants with divine authority.

  • Randomfactor

    United States Law has said that we are not a Christian nation since the 18th century.

  • jdm8

    So… they want us to vote for the Mormon? The religion where they had us believe in the past wasn’t Christian, but now they’re pretending that past away?

  • Elerena

    They also picked a fairly disgusting quote to use as an icon of the guy they support.  They decided to go with a message that literally states “if you’re not Christian, then you’re not as good as us.”

  • Richard Wade

    To Focus on the Family, if you’re not pro Christian Dominionist theocratic dictatorship, you’re anti-Christian.  If Romney manages to lie and cheat his way into the White House, wave hello when we’re in the concentration salvation camp.

    In fact, it speaks to a hunger that’s deeper than that – a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause…

    Yeah, the hunger for Mommy and Daddy to always take care of you and make everything okay. They’re not. They’re dead or aging, and you’ll have to take care of them. We all have to take care of each other. Grow the fuck up.

  • Stev84

    And kill people of other religions. They loved killing and exiling Quakers in early colonial America

  • MargueriteF

    The Faith and Freedom Coalition has been running a similar ad in Virginia (I heard it last week on a country music station while I was in a tack shop– I never listen to the radio voluntarily).  The full text is here:

    Quote: “Obama claimed in a Muslim country that America is not a Christian nation.
    Obama lobbied for same-sex marriage, removed the name of God from his platform, reinserting it as delegates booed.  
    Said Congress had better things to do when it reaffirmed that, “In God We Trust.”
    (Pause, then softly…)
    Better things than honoring God? Like what?
    Like Obamacare, runaway spending, redefining marriage and attacking religion.”

  • TooManyJens

    Honesty isn’t a “family value,” apparently.

  • Rob Klaers

    We’ve never been a Christian nation.. 

  • Baal

     I’d like a funny video done where various Christian Dominionist theocratic ideas are floated, made fun of and then Samuel Jackson pops up to say “Grow the fuck up.”

    My more serious question is whether or not conservatism works in straight arguments.  Could you not take the president out of context and still think he’s working to dismantle the US from being a Christian nation? 

  • Octoberfurst

     Yes indeed, according to the Christian Right if you talk about tolerance or inclusiveness that means that you HATE Christians and want to see them persecuted. In their “up is down” world letting gays marry means that you are destroying marriage, letting women have a choice concerning abortion means you hate women, not letting Christians cram their beliefs down the throats of public school children means you hate the baby Jesus.  And so on and so on. Seriously, did all conservative Christians fall out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down?

  • ExistBeWhatever

    All I see is Obama’s attempt at practicing equality, which I see nothing wrong with.  In fact, I think everyone should see themselves equal to everyone and everything so that we can accomplish and create true peace through acceptance and understanding.  I mean what is so wrong with that?  Oh yea, no war, that’s going to put a damper on things.  God forbid. Seems like if something is actually good for us, we hiss at it and throw up a cross for fear of eternal damnation.  Eh, welcome to the world folks, welcome. 

  • MargueriteF

    Don’t forget that if you REALLY love gays, you tell them they’re going to hell. In their weirdly mixed-up world, love means telling people they’re going to burn for all eternity.

  • Tony

     I know it’s unfair but religion is so easy to attack.   

  • Robster

    Does anyone know a family that’s being focussed on by this mob?  Not my family. Thank gord.

  • RobertoTheChi

    When are these loons and other loons like them going to get it through their thick skulls that we have NEVER BEEN A CHRISTIAN NATION? You can’t re-write history. GEEZ…what a bunch of bone heads…

  • Rob Rennie

    The fact is, the first Americans (besides the Indians, of course) were Puritans from England who lived in an era when Bible-believers were being burned at the stake by the Catholic Church. We’ve been a Christian nation from the beginning. There are more Christians in the United States than anywhere in the world and this is not by accident. 

  • nakedanthropologist

    You mean besides the Native Americans that these Christians tortured and murdered?  And despite the fact that our country was founded on the princples of the Enlightenment, by men who had seen the horrors of Christian fanaticism in Europe and didn’t want that repeated here by making sure that the government of the United States would favor no religion over any other, and be secular is its execution?  Claiming that the US is a “Chrisitian Nation” because there are  more Christians as a single group than other religious or non-religious affiliations is like saying that the US is a feminine nation because there are more women than men.

  • Bamagreg1969

    If we as a nation continue on this path to secularizm then the hedge of protection that God almighty has given us will be removed.