As president, George W. Bush was closely identified with the Christian right, but President Barack Obama has invoked the name of Jesus Christ far more than his predecessor.
In his speech in Cairo last week, Obama proclaimed that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Jesus, Moses and Mohammed joined in prayer.
In his speech at the University of Notre Dame in May, Obama spoke about the good works he had seen done by Christian groups in Chicago and said "it was through this service that I was brought to Christ."
And in an earlier speech at Georgetown University, Obama cited Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to promote his economic policies, retelling the story of the man who built his house on a pile of sand while another built on a rock. "We must build our house upon a rock," he declared.
On the other hand, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Christian group Family Research Council, told Politico: "I don't recall a single example of Bush as president ever saying 'Jesus' or 'Christ.'"
In fact, Bush did mention Jesus or Christ several times during his first year as president, including in his Easter proclamation and his Christmas message, according to Politico.
While Perkins said he applauds Obama's references to Jesus, he added: "I think it's a veneer, a façade that covers over a lot of policies that are anti-Christian," including his stance in favor of abortion rights.
Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, criticized Obama from another point of view: "I don't need to hear politicians tell me how religious they are. Obama in a very overt way does what Bush tended to do in a more covert way."
But invoking the name of Jesus, in addition to connecting with Christian believers, has another advantage for the president — countering the notion that he is in fact a Muslim. A recent poll found that 11 percent of Americans still incorrectly believe Obama is a Muslim.
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