ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — US President Barack Obama, in a rare discussion about his religious beliefs, described himself on Tuesday as a "Christian by choice" who arrived at his faith in adulthood because "the precepts of Jesus Christ" helped him envision the kind of life he wanted to lead.
Obama talked about his beliefs when he was asked, "Why are you a Christian." The question was posed by a woman at a backyard conversation in New Mexico, part of a series of meetings Obama is holding to talk informally with Americans.
Some conservatives and political opponents have questioned Obama's Christian faith. In fact, a Pew Research Center poll in August found that 18 percent of people wrongly believe Obama is Muslim — up from 11 percent who said so in March 2009. Just 34 percent said they thought Obama is Christian.
"I'm a Christian by choice," Obama told his audience here. "My family didn't — frankly, they weren't folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn't raise me in the church."