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Joe Scarborough: If You Question Obama's Faith, You're a 'Hater'

Apparently everyone needs to take the President at his word when he says he is a committed Christian, according to MSNBC. The network's Morning Joe crew thinks that those who still question the sincerity of President Obama's faith are "haters" and "knuckleheads."

During a townhall meeting at a New Mexico residence, President Obama proclaimed that he was a "Christian by choice." He said that he came to the faith recently, believing that the Christian precepts of "being my brother's and sister's keeper" and "treating others as they would treat me" defined the kind of life he wanted to live.

In lieu of the quote, Scarborough referenced his own Southern Baptist roots and asserted that Obama is without a doubt a Christian. "When he says things like 'Jesus died for my sins. I'm saved by God's salvation,' that's about as definitive as you can get," he claimed. "At this point, if jackasses out there question his faith, they're just haters."

Scarborough even went so far as to say that to be Christian is to accept Obama at his word. Columnist Mike Barnicle agreed, chastising the "knuckleheads out there who continue this assault on the President based on faith."


Scarborough ripped Fox News' Glenn Beck as being one of the lead "knuckleheads," and that Beck "has said his faith is a communal faith, and this and that and the other are - some gibberish to suggest that Barack Obama doesn't understand what being a Christian means."

"I don't hold religious show-trials like Glenn Beck and other people on the far right are holding of Barack Obama right now," Scarborough preached. "I think true Christian faith, true Christian charity accepts this man's word and goes on to something else, and creates a new false controversy."

For her part, however, co-host Mika Brzezinski thought the question about his faith was good, compared with "all the ridiculous questions this President has been faced with pertaining to this issue."

A transcript of this segment, which aired on September 29 at 6:00 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

(Video Clip)

President BARACK OBAMA: I'm a Christian by choice. Um, my family didn't - uh, frankly they weren't, uh, folks who went to Church every week. So I came to my Christian faith later in life. And it was because, uh, the-the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead - being my brothers' and sisters' keeper. Treating others as they would treat me.

(End Video Clip)

(...)

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So what do you think? The President was just to set people up there, let them know what happened - he was at one of these backyard meetings, townhall meetings. And a lady asked a question. She asked a couple of tough questions; one was "Tell us about your faith," the other was "Will you eat one of my husband's red-hot chili peppers?"

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I think that he's trying to do what we've been talking about, which is connect, and on different levels where there are questions he's going there. That connection with that woman on the economy the other day still sort of reverberates today, because it was such a seminal moment, I think, for this President and for this country, in terms of how people feel. And he's putting himself out there, and I commend him for it. I think it's hard for him.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, oh I think it's very hard for him. You could tell it was hard for him answering that question. But Mike, I read the Times story, and went down it. I mean, I'm talking as a guy that grew up in a Southern Baptist church. My parents took me there in the morning, they made me go to training union at night, even when the Super Bowl was on. We were there Wednesday night, we were there Friday night. I grew up in an Evangelical culture, and I see you smirking at me, wondering what happened to me. So I looked through that statement, and, you know, when he says things like "Jesus died for my sins. I'm saved by God's salvation" - that's about as definitive as you can get. At this point, if jackasses out there question his faith, they're just haters.

MIKE BARNACLE: Well, first of all, I was relieved at the way that the question was asked of the President. "Why are you a Christian?" not "Are you?" "Why are you a Christian?" That, to me, was a relief. Secondly, you can tell , I think, in his answer, the way he answered it, that because faith, our faith, all of us, is such an inherently private thing, he is a private person when it comes to his faith. And he was kind of halting when he explained why he is a Christian, but he explained it. And these knuckleheads out there who continue this assault on the President based on faith - you know, please. You're right, Joe let's just stop this. We have far more important concerns in this country.

SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Glenn Beck has been one of those knuckleheads, using Mike's words -

BARNACLE: Not a Christian word.

SCARBOROUGH: That has been - no, I think Jesus, if you go back to the original Greek transcript of the Sermon on the Mount, "knuckleheads" is used liberally there. But Glenn Beck has said his faith is a communal faith, and this and that and the other are - some gibberish to suggest that Barack Obama doesn't understand what being a Christian means. What being a Christian means, according to just about every theologian I've heard, at least traditional theologian - certainly from an Evangelical background - is, you believe that Jesus Christ is your savior, you believe that you are a sinner, that you fall short every day, and that you are saved by the grace of God. I don't bring that up as a sermon, I bring that up to say that what Barack Obama defined yesterday in that backyard is as mainstream Evangelical a definition of what being a Christian is as I have ever heard. I would like Glenn Beck now to go on his show tonight at 5 o'clock and explain why he's a Christian. And I don't think there'll be a one-upmanship here, Willy.

I think, I mean, I say that fecetiously, I don't hold religious show-trials like Glenn Beck and other people on the far right are holding of Barack Obama right now. I think true Christian faith, true Christian charity accepts this man's word and goes on to something else, and creates a new false controversy.

WILLIE GEIST: Well, I agree, and I think the President's thought over the past several months has been "I don't have to prove my faith to these idiots." But it turned out perhaps he did. So we saw him going to Church a couple of weeks ago, he addressed his faith in a big press conference earlier this month, and now in an answer to that question yesterday, so he is going out and being more open and talking about his faith -

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, was that offensive? I mean, the lady that set this up - this wasn't anything cynical - the lady asked him the question, was that -

BRZEZINSKI: I thought it was a good question.

SCARBOROUGH: It was a good question, and nothing offensive, right?

BRZEZINSKI: I would feel comfortable answering if someone asked me, and given all the ridiculous questions this President has been faced with pertaining to this issue, that was a good one, and he took it on fairly.

-Matt Hadro is News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.