Is Barack Obama an Atheist?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses whether President Obama is secretly an atheist:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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.

  • 3lemenope

    Is Barack Obama an Atheist?

    Betteridge’s Law!

    • Paula M Smolik

      Can be answered by no, not must be. Saying that a question might be answered with either yes or no isn’t saying much.

      • baal

        Sigh. The titles are not put in the form of a question when the answers are yes. It could happen now and then but that’d be rare exceptions. The authors of articles with yes/no questions will almost always be going to show the ‘no’ answer.

  • lsomers

    Obama is probably a “functional atheist” as are most politicians from what I see in their behavior. In addition to this is the fact that the congregation he was a member of in Chicago as a congregation of the United Church of Christ, a church with a long standing tradition of being very liberal. I’ve been associated with one of their congregations in the past and found many people who while they would not call themselves atheists, most certainly do not believe in the orthodox formulation of Christian doctrine; that there is a personal god or that that god is incarnate in Jesus (Christ). They do, by and large, have a strong affinity to the prophetic traditions of the Old Testament concerning justice, economic and political. The Rev. Wright came under attack from the right wing of the American Christian, who see Christianity as a series of doctrines and a way of “eternal salvation”, rather than a call to followers to practice justice and love as the Jesus of the gospel calls for. One UCC minister told me that he sees the Universe as just a big complex of what humans call laws that run on auto with no evidence of reason or purpose and hence no evidence of gods of any type. Having been a long time Christian until I realized that the minister’s description was probably the best one I’d heard, I no longer believe in any gods. There’s no evidence at all for such things. I had learned all the classical arguments in 8 years of seminary – they’re all bologna – they aren’t evidence of any kind.

    • Connie

      I’ve thought President Obama is an Atheist for a long time now. Why? Because he is so smart, he doesn’t go to church very often, it appears to me that he just tolerates the ministers around him because he needed the christian vote, and he doesn’t take his girls to church.

      • Rationalist1

        I assume he doesn’t go to Church much because of security issues (Ronald Reagan didn’t either). I’ve seen pictures of the Obamas at church with the entire family. That said, he’s probably at most a lukewarm believer.

    • brianmacker

      “Obama is probably a “functional atheist” as are most politicians from what I see in their behavior.”

      That’s a pretty low thing to say. Next you be insulting sharks with comments about lawyers.

  • David Banks

    I think Obama might, some day, admit he is an agnostic.

    • KMR

      I believe he is probably agnostic. I personally think many progressive Christians fit this definition and just loathe to take on the title for whatever reason some of which probably has to do with the discrimination they would face.

      • 3lemenope

        I think it has more to do with liking the feeling of belonging and community, and loathing the creeping feeling of inauthenticity that naturally comes with watering down a belief-system to fit with the modern world.

        • KMR

          Maybe. Of course the progressives don’t feel they are watering down the belief system. They feel they are rescuing it from a cult like force which came into the US foreground during the 1890′s in response to Darwin’s theory of evolution.
          Anyway I could easily describe myself as progressive if I wanted to since being agnostic (perfectly described by the “seeker agnostic” label that came out a few months ago) there is room in my life for spiritual discussions as related to Jesus’s divinity. I fit in fine with the progressives I know and love and those I converse with on-line. But I’m comfortable with the agnostic label and feel no need to for surety in my life in regards to supernatural matters.

    • C Peterson

      Let’s hope not, since claiming to be an agnostic displays either intellectual dishonesty, or more ignorance than claiming to be Christian.

      • brianmacker

        Huh? Talk about intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.

        • C Peterson

          Perhaps you could be more clear in your complaint.

          There might be a few agnostics, although the vast majority of people who so identify have absolutely no idea what the word means. But the important point is that agnostic or not, everybody is either a theist or an atheist, unless they are mentally damaged or extremely ignorant. Agnosticism is not a third alternative to atheism or theism.

          If somebody claims to be agnostic, but not a theist or atheist, they are ignorant, they are dishonest, or they are simply afraid to state their actual beliefs unambiguously.

          • brianmacker

            You are obviously ignorant of the fact that agnosticism has to do with knowledge of god, whereas atheism has to do with belief in god. They are orthogonal concepts. My dad did not believe in god and therefore was an atheist, but also did not think that one could know whether god existed or not, and was therefore an agnostic. When asked about his religion he would say say that he was agnostic. Then if the person was intelligent he might question further, but it saved him a lot of trouble talking to ignoramuses.

            I personally take things to a further level. For most conceptions of god I am a anti-agnostic, or igtheist, and for some an agnostic. For all known conceptions of god I am an atheist.

            It is intellectually dishonest of you to make claims about agnostics because you are using a straw man version of their position. Using straw men is always intellectually dishonest.

    • QuestioningKat

      My bet is that he is somewhere between deism and agnosticism, but really hasn’t put in the effort to search for truth. He just realizes that religion is flawed.

  • Rationalist1

    If he truly is an atheist, I hope it never comes out.

    Why? Because then people would say atheists are immoral to hide their atheism from the electorate and they would be right. Politicians who are atheists, in an ideal world, should be open about it, or at least not pretend to be what they are not. President Obama has on occasion in public expressed the importance of his faith and I hope (paradoxically) he was genuine and not an atheist who was lying to get votes.

    Barney Frank came out after he left office, Chris Stark came out when he was not going to run again. Let’s hope the US could have a politician running for federal office that is not afraid to say that he or she is not religious.

    • stanz2reason

      Hey Rat1… This might be an instance where perfect world idealism gets in the way of real world pragmatism. The truth is, on a national scale there are still far too many people who will either not vote for you by staying home or go out of their way to vote against you for a candidate they otherwise don’t really care for due to a disbelief in God. It’s nonsense, but it’s reality. I’d rather have a closeted skeptic in the office rather than an out of the closet 2nd place finisher at home wondering why the guy who campaigned on putting prayer back into school won instead of him. Eventually this will have to end, but I don’t feel now is the right time. Republican conservatives are, in many ways, fractured and vulnerable politically. It’d be a big help to them to push this now.

      There is a certain amount of theater in real world politics, including bending the truth or out and out lying over elements that at the end of the day aren’t really relevant to the job he’s doing (not only religious beliefs, but incidents of legal sexual indiscretion). Thankfully this is a trend that is changing as certain districts warm to the prospect of an out of the closet skeptic for President and I feel this trend is irreversible. I feel patience is currently the prudent course of action in regards to someone running for higher office.

      • Rationalist1

        I too would rather have a closeted atheist but, to save the recriminations, not to have him or her come out of the closest, especially if he or she pretended to be a Christian. Sort of a reverse S. E. Cupp.

        • stanz2reason

          Cupp is amazing. She’s managed to make Newt Gingrich the second most phony person on CNN’s new Crossfire. It’s really a remarkable accomplishment. She’s like a younger, hotter more despicable version of Ann Coulter, who at least doesn’t pretend she’s not such a c—.

    • Kathleen Lowy

      Obama lied to get votes. He’s as religious as Richard Dawkins.

  • C Peterson

    There is nothing selfish about questioning how an intelligent, educated person can be a Christian.

    Theism fundamentally requires a hole in one’s reasoning (and Christianity is far worse, requiring acceptance of demonstrably wrong facts and unethical ideas). We rightfully expect intelligence and education to eliminate gaping holes in reasoning, so it if fundamentally sound to question how and why otherwise intelligent people can maintain crazy belief systems.

  • rwlawoffice

    There are a lot of things about Obama that I am more concerned about than whether he is an atheist. I am far more concerned about his policies than i am his faith or lack thereof. If he is secretly an atheist and is lying about it, it would just be one more deception from him.

    • 3lemenope

      What are his other deceptions?

      • Eric Kanary

        Off the top of my head NSA spying, expanding the war on marijuana, drone strikes, punishing white collar criminals/ bank CEO, pretending to be progressive. Take your pick, it’s not like its hard to find things a politician has lied about.

        • 3lemenope

          Thanks, but I was asking rw, not least because I suspect his list will have different examples.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            “Different” meaning “fake”, I presume.

            It’d be nice if these nitwits could actually complain about the real terrible things that politicians actually do. Then they get snitty when they get handwaved away after crying wolf for four straight years…

      • rwlawoffice

        That the Affordable Care Act will be cheaper, that you will be able to keep your doctor, etc…; That Benghazi was caused by a video; The the sequester was not his idea; that he has submitted budget that will cut the deficit; that he has not raised taxes on the middle class…. just to name a few.

        • baal

          Why am I not surprised that you suffer from Obama derangement syndrome? Please see Eric Kanary’s short list for a short list of things to actually be bothered by.

          • KMR

            I’m curious but hasn’t most people received a notice from their insurance company that their monthly premiums are going up? I know we have and the increase is quite substantial. Luckily we can afford it but I know a lot of people can’t.

            • 3lemenope

              You know what’s funny? I hadn’t gotten that letter.

              You know why not?

              No insurance.

              • KMR

                Are you going to be able to get it now? I certainly hope so if you want to. I like to think that our higher premium is going to benefit others.

                • M.S.

                  uhhh… yes… I was curious about this too! My good friend’s family monthly premium is going up $240/month. That’s $2,880/year!! And unfortunately, they can NOT afford it and will now be applying for government assistance. I find it somewhat concerning that in this scenario, AHC has taken a self-sufficient family not using any government aid and forced them into a position where they need government aid. But that is just one example; so I can’t say in general all premiums are going higher.

                • KMR

                  I can’t either. But we just got our letter yesterday. I’m betting more and more people will come out of the woodworks on it. Anyway, I’m very sorry for your friend. I hope they can work it out somehow to be able to pay it without government assistance but if they can’t then I hope they receive help. Maybe the exchange would be beneficial??

                • M.S.

                  Thanks, I am sorry for them too. I think they feel ashamed, although they certainly shouldn’t. I’m waiting to see what impact it will have on our family but I won’t know until January. I am quite confident our premiums will increase, unfortunately. The smallest change per month can have a big impact on those of us who are barely getting by on our own! We’re the ones feeling the squeeze here.

                • KMR

                  I know. And I’m sorry.

                • 3lemenope

                  I think both you and M.S. should keep in mind that the rate folks are actually going to end up paying is going to be lower by quite a sight from stated premiums, because most of the mid-scale is subsidized.

                • M.S.

                  But we’ve still created a situation in which we have driven a self-sufficient family that received zero government aid to a position where they now require government aid. I don’t know what has been won in that scenario?

                • 3lemenope

                  a self-sufficient family that received zero government aid

                  There is no such thing. (At least, I should say, they are so rare that from a political perspective they should be treated as not existing.)

                • baal

                  I saw a few news stories last week about someone seeing how much government aid a citizen gets. Turns out it goes up with your wealth / income.

                • M.S.

                  That is interesting… I didn’t see those stories… do you have any links?

                • M.S.

                  Yeah, that’s a fair point. A better way to word it was that we’ve driven them to requiring substantially *more* government aid. I don’t know if that is a good scenario.

                • JH
                • baal

                  If you want families to have better solvency, they need to be paid more. The economy of the US has grown 60% since 1980. That means we all could have been getting paid more. Turns out that the wealth pretty much only went to the richest Americans instead. I don’t get the feeling that you’d listen to him but Robert Reich has a number of excellent and short articles and videos on his site that show how the richest grabbed all the new wealth generation in the last 30 years. We had (have) the $$ the problem is the system that distributes wealth to those who already have it.

                • M.S.

                  I would LOVE to be paid more! Where do I sign up?

                • M.S.

                  … and I will look into Robert’s articles…. I actually am in general a pretty fair-minded and open-minded person. The first few changes out of the gate with AHC have just affected me negatively on a personal level. So, I would say I’m still hopeful this works, but my optimism is waning….

                • KMR

                  I read a comment one time talking about how to tax the upper class. Talked about maybe a 60% or more rate for an amount over let’s say 10 million or some huge astronomical amount like that. But they could avoid that tax if say they put that taxable money towards their company or a charity. Told by my conservative friends that it wouldn’t work that it would cause folks to be less enterprising but I still think it’s an interesting proposal.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  They’re wrong. Quite a while back we had a tax rate as high as 90%, which could be avoided as you say by reinvesting profits. It worked extremely well for the upper classes. So there’s actual historical evidence of that theory in actions.

                • KMR

                  That’s what I read, also, and why I thought it would be an interesting proposal. As long as person could still keep at least some of the profits for themselves that I think would be motivation enough to continue working. I will say, however, that those who actually create the company should perhaps be exempt in some form or fashion or experience a lower tax rate. Great genius deserves great profits IMO.

                • KMR

                  Forgive my ignorance but what do you mean exactly? How does that work?

                • 3lemenope

                  The way I understand it is nobody, right now, knows just what the final prices will be because nobody knows what the enrollment rate will be at the beginning. The larger the pool of enrolees, the lower the prices go. Once they have a sense of how big a pool they have to work with, then premiums can be calculated, which in turn allows them to figure out what the cut-offs for subsidies will be. The letters that some people have been getting from insurance companies take none of this into account.

                  The lower bound of the subsidy window is supposed to blend seamlessly into medicaid, but several governors petulantly refused the medicaid supplement that came with the ACA, and so those states will have a “hole” between the upper bound of medicaid eligibility and the lower bound of subsidy eligibility, so those governors managed to screw the working poor in their states despite the intent of the law.

                • KMR

                  So if I’m understanding you correctly my insurance company made a preemptive strike? So maybe it will be corrected next year if we get enough enrolled?

                • 3lemenope

                  Will be applying at the exchange in a couple of days (letting them work out the kinks and all).

                • KMR

                  Good luck! For us the increase in premiums is inconvenient but not detrimental so I certainly hope you benefit from it.
                  But in principle I do have a problem that we were told that those with insurance would not experience higher costs. We personally did and it appears that we may have much company. Not everyone is going to be able to “grouse” about the higher costs and move forward. It’s going to affect a lot of families in a negative way.

                • M.S.

                  That’s such a positive, selfless attitude. Myself, I’m trying to work past my selfish annoyance that my loved ones are getting seriously pinched by all this….

                • KMR

                  Thanks but my husband and I are quite aware that we are lucky people.

            • Tainda

              I haven’t gotten anything

              • M.S.

                I know some people are getting notification now, but we were told by our employer we would know anything until January. If I had to bet my life, I’d bet yours (and mine) are going up.

                • M.S.

                  we would not* know. sorry for the typo….

            • baal

              My employer sent an email and said no change. Also, when the say the premiums are going up, the employers as well as the insurance companies have limited requirements to prove that it’s based on a change in costs (as opposed to a political decision).

              • M.S.

                Well lucky you, you must have a good employer. And that is a good point too, because I’m sure you’re right, some of the increases are going to be in-part profit driven by insurance companies…

              • Spuddie

                My insurer sent a letter saying premiums are going to decrease for the same coverage.

                So the big issue with Obamacare seems to be that it is not socialist enough. Something which would give the wingnuts even greater conniptions.

                • M.S.

                  You’re the first I’ve heard with that news, but I hope you’re not the last!

              • KMR

                Didn’t know that. As a result could there be a correction later on?

                • baal

                  If we could get the books opened up yes. The other way we’d see a big drop in cost to you and me is if there was a ‘public option.’ If there was a fedgov mediated plan (instead of via an insurance company) that had say 100, 150 and 200 levels then insurance companies would have to offer the same plans or have to show they give your more for the higher prices they charge.

                  The data are just starting to be available but States like MN (my state) have some of the lowest average prices on the exchanges. We also have a not-for-profit rule for the insurance companies. It’s not a strong rule but even that much of a limit has us with some of the best options on the State exchange.

          • rwlawoffice

            Isn’t it funny that one President can have both the Liberals and conservatives angry at him at the same time. Saying he deceived them both.

            • baal

              I couldn’t care less about the deceptions; that’s standard. The point that I don’t like is the loss of basic civil liberties – how free are you if you’re watched 24/7? Obama is probably worse than Bush the Lesser on this point (though the smaller bush wasn’t decent either). Do you have enough personal honesty to call out the failings in your leaders RW?

              • rwlawoffice

                Sure. I had concerns about Bush Jr. when he was in office. Frankly I think all politicians deceive. I’m more concerned about policy direction than the actual person because frankly, not many of them can be trusted after they have been in DC for more than a week.

                • KMR

                  This is what I feel personally. The whole system seems corrupt to me and to be successful at it I think one must also be corrupt to some extent. The presidency doesn’t bother me as much though because of the term limits.

            • 3lemenope

              Liberals were apparently all asleep during the 2008 election; I don’t have much sympathy for folks who thought he’d be anything other than a center-right technocrat, since that’s what he ran as, and so their buyer’s remorse is a case of just not paying attention.

              While the right-wing’s allergy to facts has become rather more pronounced over the last decade or so. The reasons why “conservatives” are angry seem less about him and more about the deep-seated insecurities they harbor about adopting a self-consciously extreme political philosophy; I put conservative in quotes there because conservatives, by definition, are not adopters of extremism. That’s the whole point.

            • Tainda

              It’s not really that funny. Conservatives usually follow blindly while liberals are more careful about who and what they approve of and if you piss us off, you’re gonna hear about it.

              • rwlawoffice

                You have to be kidding. Watch MSNBC for more than fifteen minutes and you will see countless examples of liberals who follow blindly.

              • 3lemenope

                Yeah, I haven’t found either group to come up stars on this particular standard. People like to belong, they like to be right, they like more than anything to do these things together, and will front just gob-smacking levels of credulity and fact-avoidance to maintain the good feeling that those two things provide.

              • KMR

                Uhhh no. There are plenty of liberals who follow blindly I assure you. Both parties have their idiots.

                • Tainda

                  Didn’t say that they didn’t have their idiots. Everyone group of anything has their idiots.

                  I love how everyone always jumps on it when people say stuff on here. When people say “ALL liberals” or “ALL conservatives” then jump on it.

                • M.S.

                  I think people jump on “all or none” statements because they are incredibly ignorant and stereotype-supporting….

                • KMR

                  Not many people like absolutist statements. Your statement read as one of those to me. I’m sorry if I misinterpreted it.

                • Tainda

                  No biggie. I can see how it can be seen that way. And that was a crappy sentence

        • 3lemenope

          That the Affordable Care Act will be cheaper

          Than what?

          that you will be able to keep your doctor, etc…

          You lost your doctor?

          That Benghazi was caused by a video

          That’s not actually what he or the administration claimed, but that aside, you seem to want to ding him for getting something wrong during an evolving situation with little reliable information. If that’s the case, you have bad standards for judging chief executives.

          The the sequester was not his idea

          The idea of a sequester was created bipartisanly during the last round of debt ceiling idiocy in 2011, and was enthusiastically backed by both Obama and Boehner. Neither thought that *actually implementing* the sequestration cuts would be a good idea, and so both have been tripping over one another casting blame, assigning authorship, and denying responsibility.

          that he has submitted budget that will cut the deficit

          The budget deficit has gone down every single year Obama has been in office.

          that he has not raised taxes on the middle class

          In the bizarro world where $200,000 annum is “middle class”, sure.

          …. just to name a few.

          But you’re on a roll! keep going!

          • Boothby171

            Love the response, 3lemenope, but is “bipartisanly” actually a word?

            • 3lemenope

              It is now.

  • Pithecanthropus

    Secretly an atheist? Secretly a Muslim? What difference does his religion make? He’s the POTUS and that’s all that matters.

    • C Peterson

      Would it matter to you if he was secretly a Nazi? Secretly a member of the KKK?

      Anything about the core beliefs of an elected representative that helps him define his actions is important to know. Religion does make a difference.

      • 3lemenope

        Would it matter to you if he was secretly a Nazi? Secretly a member of the KKK?

        No. The more extreme an organization’s political and social philosophy is,

        1. The less that that ideology can find effective covert expression

        2. The less a highly constrained and highly visible office like POTUS would be able to act on any of its tenets

        Extremists are only really scary when they aren’t extremists because they enjoy the cover of public agreement. Extremists who find themselves embedded in a fundamentally inertia-filled position like a government’s executive office would, likely-as-not, go completely insane inside of a month.

      • Anomony

        “Religion does make a difference.”

        You’re right,
        The more someone leans on religion the more I wonder about them.
        And I will * never * vote for a Fundamentalist of any stripe.

        Far as your argument about Barry being “secretly a Nazi (or) member of the KKK”, You do realize neither of those groups cotton much to mixed race people?

        I understand the practice of looking at extremes to understand an argument, but you embarrass yourself horribly when the chosen extreme isn’t reality based.

        Oh, thats right, this is about religion so your probably heavily vested in fantasy.

        • C Peterson

          Far as your argument about Barry being “secretly a Nazi (or) member of the KKK”, You do realize neither of those groups cotton much to mixed race people?

          As you point out, there is a point to using extreme examples to illustrate an idea… in this case, that most people would have problems with their representatives secretly harboring at least some philosophical views (of which religion is an example).

          The comment wasn’t intended to apply to any particular representative (such as Obama), just to present an extreme.

          From your other comments, I suspect you have gravely misunderstood my views about religion.

  • mmc

    I wish an atheist website would stay away from even asking this question. In my opinion, we would all be better served if religion – including the absence of it – were _completely_ taken out of political public life.

    • C Peterson

      Why? I judge people in critical ways on their religious beliefs. If I’m going to vote for somebody, I need to know their religious views just like I need to know their views on dozens of other important (to me) issues.

  • Beth Clarkson

    I think you are wrong to say that his faith is an obstacle to supporting gay marriage. When he says he supports gay marriage because of his faith, I see no reason to conclude that he is lying or mistaken about his motivation. The idea that faith is an obstacle to such conclusions is mistaking your interpretation of the bible as the only true or reasonable interpretation. Clearly not the case as there are many Christian congregations that welcome gay members and support equal marriage rights.

  • Darkknight56

    I have not seen the video and I have no real idea of what Obama’s views are on religion. If he is secretly an atheist then by definition no one really knows except him. If many people know for certain that he is, or is not, an atheist then it really isn’t a secret.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I think it’s more likely that Obama is an atheist than S. E. Cupp.

    (jk/ I actually take both of them at their word)

  • Al Dente

    Being religious and an atheist isn’t necessarily a contradiction. I know Buddhists who consider themselves Atheists. A “renegade” Universalist Unitarian church in Dallas welcomed atheists for a long time and I understand that now all UU churches do. I’ve heard of Quakers who have lost their faith in God yet still consider themselves Quakers because they still hold dear many of the church’s secular values.
    I’ve always avoided the claim that someone might be too intelligent to be religious. The most brilliant computer scientist and physicist I know is a devout Christian.

    • brianmacker

      Aren’t all Buddhists atheists? I wasn’t aware they had any deities, but perhaps I’m thinking of some other eastern religion. He wasn’t asking if Obama was “religious” but whether he was Christian. I think by definition if you are an atheist then you are not religiously a Christian. You might be culturally though.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Buddhism can incorporate religious beliefs, and to my understanding it usually does so outside of the West. It just isn’t a requirement of the core tenets.

        The way that Eastern religions mix is really, really hard for us to understand conceptually, even without looking at specific examples.

        • brianmacker

          Incorporating religious belief does not entail believing in a deity. Plenty of religions are atheistic. Ancestor worship, belief in ghosts, etc. does not necessarily mean you believe in gods.

  • Brett Ellis

    One thing that was glaringly obvious about the president and faith was the omitting of any mention of non-believers on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Atheists marched with Dr. King, Atheists fought for the right to vote for minorities, atheists bled and died for the rights of all Americans from the first war to the most recent ones, yet no mention of that contribution. What better time to celebrate all the people who contributed than at that rally, yet with all the black and white church leaders in the audience it seemed to slip his mind.

    He may have thought that nobody noticed, but I did. I lost a bit of respect for him that day.

  • Anna

    Well, based on what he wrote in The Audacity of Hope, he certainly doesn’t seem convinced there’s an afterlife:

    “I wondered whether I should have told her the truth, that I wasn’t sure what happens when we die, any more than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the Big Bang.”

    I think Obama might have vague supernatural beliefs, but it’s hard to tell how many religious claims he accepts. It’s possible he doesn’t accept any at all.

    • brianmacker

      Lots of Christians would agree with that. They are not sure, but have faith.

      • Anna

        True, but I believe most Christians would at least think heaven was a strong possibility. Obama seemed to think he should tell his daughter he had no idea if such a thing existed at all.

  • Marisa Totten

    It wouldn’t surprise me. But in general I tend to take people at their word. Liberal christians love to claim him, and conservative christians (who say liberal christians aren’t true christians) love to hate him. What he is that no one can deny, is a believer in the secular nature of our government and a humanist. And I’ll take that any day.

    • infidel1000

      //”What he is that no one can deny, is a believer in the secular nature of our government and a humanist.”//

      I wouldn’t be too sure of that. His Justice Dept. has filed several appeals against secular court decisions, like the one that overturned Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, and a pending case against government prayer in the Greece, NY case. He’s a typical politician. He does what keeps the heat off him, by following the path of least resistance. Whether he’s religious or not is anybody’s guess. Mine is that, he feels, that in today’s acrid political environment, he has to proclaim such belief, loudly, to ward off the worst effects of the powerful religious right. In his mind, supporting prayers, invoking “God bless America”, swearing on the bible, and legal action against secular court decisions are all obligatory genuflections to the religious right. Maybe these are the defensive actions of a cynical non-believer president. Maybe not. In any case, It’s undoubtedly better than having a full blown fundamentalist, Like Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum in charge. But his actions deny him the title of “secularist” or “humanist.”

      • Marisa Totten

        Those cases are not ones with which I am overly familiar so I won’t comment on Obama’s potential motives there. But I disagree with what seems to be your requirement to obtain the title “humanist”. One need not, IMO, be non-religious to own that title. But your comment has spurred me to reflect more, and I think Obama may come closer to a humanist than some POTUS’s we’ve had recently, but I don’t think *I* would give that title to someone who uses an unmanned drone program the way he does, ironically the way I would expect from a POTUS who’s religious nature was less in question. But I do absolutely agree with you in that he’s far better that a Santorum or Palin administration, or even a Romney administration.

        • Guest

          Yeah, I agree, lots of shades of gray here. He’s a complicated man if anything. He’s also up against a situation no other president has had to face, in that he’s still accused of being a Muslim even though he’s killed more terrorists (including OBL), than Cheny/ Bush ever dreamed of). Perhaps he’s cynical enough to use the drone program simply for the purpose of upping his street cred. As for Romney, my major problem with him was not religious. I could not vote for a person whose profession involved overtly plundering the remains of the furloughed employees of the companies and government monies he ransacked at Bain Capital, offshored his money and paid few taxes, and would have used his position as president to further enhance this practice and cover his tracks. What a shame that with all his lying and conniving, Obama turns out to be the (by far) more honest and truthful choice we’ve had for the last two presidential election cycles. All the repubs have been misanthropes, and rejecting them is a no-brainer. The only one I can think of with a modicum of intellect was John Huntsman, who, ironically, by this attribute, automatically disqualified himself from consideration by his own party.

        • infidel1000

          Yeah, I agree, lots of shades of gray here. He’s a complicated man if anything. He’s also up against a situation no other president has had to face, in that he’s still accused of being a Muslim even though he’s killed more terrorists (including OBL), than Cheny/ Bush ever dreamed of. Perhaps he’s cynical enough to use the drone program simply for the purpose of upping his street cred. As for Romney, my major problem with him was not religious. I could not vote for a person whose profession involved overtly plundering the remains of the furloughed employees of the companies and government monies he ransacked at Bain Capital, offshored his money and paid few taxes, and would have used his position as president to further enhance this practice and cover his tracks. What a shame that with all his lying and conniving, Obama turns out to be the (by far) more honest and truthful choice we’ve had for the last two presidential election cycles. All the repubs have been misanthropes, and rejecting them is a no-brainer. The only one I can think of with a modicum of intellect was John Huntsman, who, ironically, by this attribute, automatically disqualified himself from consideration by his own party.

          • Marisa Totten

            My problem with Romney was lie or truth, he couldn’t say the same thing consistently. He changed his platform to fit the office he was running for and rarely held the same position on Monday he’d taken over the weekend. A dear friend of mine was raised with a Mormon influence (she is agnostic) and she maintained that his loyalty would be to his faith, which is rather the impression I got from Santorum with brash openness, and from Ryan a bit more cloyingly. Huntsman intrigued me as well, till he agreed with the rest of them that he wouldn’t trade $1 in revenue for $10 in spending cuts. Ironically, I think Obama is more moderate republican than many current republicans. *sigh*

  • fjpor

    What has happened to his mentioning the Atheists lately? Nothing!! And then he files the brief to have prayer in town meetings (greece vs NY) after the court ruled it unconstitutional. WTF was that…

  • EmmittBrownBTTF1

    He may be a christian humanist.

  • keddaw

    “Is President Obama an atheist?”

    I don’t care. He’s a Constitution shredding, Bill Of Rights ignoring, hypocritical, lying, American killing, illegal warmongering, congress avoiding, power hungry, spying, overbearing, bad, bad man – he’s made the Democrats stop holding the executive branch in check and made indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition, kill lists(!) etc. all become the norm.

    • brianmacker

      LOL, the Democratsjdon’t need Obama’s help. They have a very long history of removing checks on the executive branch. Go look up FDR.

    • Kathleen Lowy

      You got that right!

  • camarye

    One of my co-moderators of /r/BlackAtheism on reddit has a lot to say on this topic. I don’t necessarily agree with him, but he put a lot of work into supporting his hypothesis about the president and secularism. He explains his thoughts here: http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAtheism/comments/1khzjs/presidential_candidates_attitude_toward_secularism/cbp7a2c?context=1

  • brianmacker

    … and other atheists, like me, would not “love it” if he said he were an atheist. He’s not exactly an exemplar of ethics.

  • lina baker

    As I wrote on your followup on this: if we’re outraged that Oprah just *cannot* believe Diana Nyad is an Atheist despite her assertions otherwise, we need to be just as outraged by Richard Dawkins asserting that President Obama is an Atheist, despite his assertions otherwise. He’s using the same “logic” Oprah did. Ugh.


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