Nightly News   |  September 28, 2010

Obama: 'I'm a Christian by choice'

Taking a direct question from a voter about his religion, President Obama on Tuesday explained how he came to embrace Christianity as his faith. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

WILLIAMS: was this afternoon in New Mexico . President Obama , backyard event, behind him hanging from the front porch of the house the American flag , red hot chili peppers .

TODD: Right.

WILLIAMS: He was asked about his Christian faith , his religion. Gave an interesting answer.

President BARACK OBAMA: I'm a Christian by choice. You know, my family didn't, you know, frankly, they weren't folks who went to church every week. I mean, my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew but she didn't raise me in the church. So I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead, being my brother's and sister's keeper, treating others as they would treat me. And I think also understanding that, you know, that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings. That we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes and that, you know, we achieve salvation through the grace of God.

WILLIAMS: The president today on his Christian faith . Chuck, one area where every word spoken by Barack Obama is dissected over and over again.

TODD: And this one will likely be dissected. Look, during the campaign they spent a lot of time courting evangelical media outlets, evangelicals in general, because the president at the time, candidate Obama , his advisers believed that the man's faith was going to be something that would connect to some voters and went there. Of course, the Reverend Wright episode happened. And there's always been almost a wall around the president when it comes to religion. You can tell it sort of affects him in different ways. He seems more reserved about it, doesn't like to talk about it. And even in this case, let's remember, this was a -- somebody in a backyard who said, 'Why are you a Christian?' You know, it sort of came -- we know why this conversation is sort of a constant conversation as people still want to understand the president's faith.