Last week, the media, White House and nation were in a hullabaloo over a Pew Research Center poll that revealed that 1 in 5 Americans believes President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The poll received so much attention and response that the White House released a rebuttal reiterating that President Obama is "a committed Christian."
The fact is Americans are more baffled now by Obama's personal religion than they were when he first came into office.
John Green, University of Akron politics professor and senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, concluded, "I haven't seen any example -- and I've been following polling of presidents for a long time now -- of where we've seen increased confusion about religiosity the longer they're in office."
With all the confusion and quandaries about Obama's religion lately, I rearranged the order of this four-part series to detail today exactly what President Obama believes, including his beliefs about prayer, heaven, the Bible and the person of Jesus, based upon a rare in-depth interview by a religious reporter for a major newspaper publication.
To me, this interview -- which took place March 27, 2004, when Obama was a candidate for the U.S. Senate -- is by far the best documentation of Obama's faith. In it, Obama gave often lengthy responses about his faith and practice to a series of questions from then-Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani, though he often seemed confused and even obtuse in his replies.
To the question "do you pray often?" Obama replied, "Uh, yeah, I guess I do."
When asked whether he had read the Bible, Obama responded: "Absolutely. (But) these days I don't have much time for reading or reflection, period. ... I'll be honest with you; I used to all the time, in a fairly disciplined way. But during the course of this campaign, I don't."
In answering reporter Falsani's question about whether there was a role model who combined everything Obama said he wanted to do in his life and faith, Obama's first response was, "I think Gandhi is a great example of a profoundly spiritual man."
Gandhi? A Hindu? How about Jesus, seeing as Obama claims to be a "committed Christian"?
When Obama was asked pointedly, "Who's Jesus to you?" he immediately responded with a nervous laugh, followed by a rather sarcastic "Right." He proceeded, "Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he's also a wonderful teacher."
Could that "reaching something higher" possibly be heaven?