The Washington Post

White House brushes off questions of Obama’s religious faith

The White House is brushing off the latest critics who have taken aim at President Obama’s religious faith.

During his daily briefing Tuesday, press secretary Jay Carney was asked about recent suggestions from Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and religious leader Franklin Graham that Obama is less than a true Christian.

On the MSNBC program “Morning Joe,” Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, declined to categorically rule out that Obama is a Muslim, even though the president has repeatedly professed his Christianity.

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Carney shrugged off the remark.

“I did meet with president for 45 minutes today and amazingly he didn’t bring this up,” Carney said sarcastically, adding that Obama focused their discussion on policy matters.

Carney said the president believes implementing measures to boost the economy, such as the payroll tax cut, is more important “than someone’s opinion expressed on cable television about his personal faith that he spoke about explicitly about as recently as a couple weeks ago at the national prayer breakfast.”

At the prayer breakfast, Obama told a group of Christian leaders that his Christian faith guides his policies and closed his remarks with an anecdote about praying with the Rev. Billy Graham during a visit in 2009.

Carney also blew off Santorum’s statement in Ohio last week that Obama supports “a phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible.” In defending the comment Monday night, Santorum brought up Obama’s connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose Chicago church Obama had attended until Wright’s preachings drew controversy during the 2008 campaign.

“This president is focused on the things he believes the American people elected him to do: Work with Congress or independently to take every measure he can to grow the economy and create jobs,” Carney said. “He believes that’s what the American people are focused on and want their representatives in Washington and those representative in the White House to focus on.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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