Winthrop University hosted church historian David Holmes on October 19th. Holmes is a professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary. He holds William and Mary's highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson award, among many others. Holmes came to talk about recent U.S. presidents and their religious faiths, Barack Obama's of which was the most interesting.
Rumors have circulated about Obama's faith for years, which were fueled by former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee accused Obama of being a Muslim and later said that he "pretends" to be a Christian.
Holmes came to clarify the history of Obama's faith. Obama's biological father came from a mixed Christian and Muslim family, but Obama only had limited interaction with him. In fact, Obama was an atheist as a child, and his mother was Unitarian Universalist and then turned agnostic.
Above: Young Barack Obama with his mother, Ann Dunham, 1963.
Obama's mother later remarried to a corporate executive of Muslim faith in Indonesia. However, Obama was raised with no real exposure to Islam, because his step-father was too focused on being a successful business executive.
Obama's first stirrings of faith began when he attended worship at Trinity United Church of Christ in college. This is where he became a Christian and was later baptized by this church.
Even though Obama was baptized, people still questioned whether his conversion was genuine. Many point out that he has only attended church 24 times during his presidency, a minuscule amount compared to preceding presidents. Holmes explained that you can't rank Christians based on how many times they go to church. Also, going to church is extremely hard for a president.
Obama's attendence declined after several incidents. Metal detectors and security were set up outside the church, secret service swarmed everywhere, snipers were on top of nearby buildings, and the pastors spoke about Obama instead of God. Obama was offended, so he now goes to a small church next to the White House or the chapel at Camp David.
Above: President Obama at the chapel at Camp David
President Obama does devotions every morning. Also, his advisers claim his faith inspired the Affordable Care Act and other decisions in his presidency. There is overwhelming evidence for Obama's Christian faith.