President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia at the lighting of the national Christmas tree on Dec. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama said in a speech delivered Thursday evening that Americans should ponder the words of Jesus Christ this Christmas season and make their actions conform to them.
“So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds.”
Obama was speaking on the Ellipse in front of the White House at the ceremony for the lighting of the national Christmas tree.
“More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep,” said Obama. “But this was not just any child. Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
“That teaching has come to encircle the globe,” said Obama. “It has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.
“So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds,” said Obama.
In his speech at the Christmas tree lighting, Obama did not mention the American “non-believers” he has sometimes cited at other ceremonies, including those with expressly religious themes.
In his Jan. 20, 2009, Inaugural Address, Obama said: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus--and non-believers.”
Seven days later, in an interview with Al Arabiya television, he said: “[W]hat I've come to understand is that regardless of your faith--and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers--regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams.”
At the Esparanza National Prayer Breakfast on June 19, 2009, Obama said: “For it was the genius of America's founders to protect the freedom of all religion and those who practice no religion at all; so as we join in prayer, we remember that this is a nation of Christian and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and non-believers.”
At a White House Iftar dinner on Aug. 13, 2010, the president said: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus--and non-believers.”
When the American population is divided between those who go to church weekly, those who go to church nearly weekly or monthly, and those who seldom or never go to church, Obama’s approval rating is lowest among those who go to church weekly and highest among those who seldom or never go to church, according to the Gallup poll.
In October, Obama’s approval dropped to a low of 31 percent among Americans who attend church weekly. In the most recent week reported by Gallup, it rebounded to 37 percent.
Among those who go to church nearly weekly or monthly, Obama’s approval is 41 percent, according to Gallup.
Among Americans who never go to church, Obama’s approval is 48 percent.
Obama’s overall approval in the Gallup poll is 43 percent.