Is Obama a Christian? Bob Jones III, asks 'Where Is the Evidence ?

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Bob Jones III
Bob Jones University/AP Photo

National Journal -- By Beth Reinhard -- SPARTANBURG

Bob Jones III said he hasn't endorsed Mitt Romney as he did in the last presidential campaign partly because he doesn't think Christian voters will rule the Mormon candidate out this time.

"Number one, he hasn't asked for it,'' said Jones, chancellor of the fundamentalist Christian university named after his family. "I had a reason for doing it the first time. I don't have that same reason this time.''

In a wide-ranging interview Friday afternoon in his stately office Jones recalled why he backed Romney in 2007.

Now it's President Obama who is causing Jones great trepidation.

"I have a great distrust for him,'' he said. "I think he's moving this country in a socialist direction as fast as he can... His whole background to me is colored with suspicion.''

Asked whether he doubts Obama's identity as a Christian, he added, "I've no reason to think he's a Christian...Anyone can say he's a Christian. Some people will say whatever they think the politically helpful thing would be. I say, 'Where is the evidence that he is a Christian?' ''

What about the (false) impression that Obama is a Muslin who was not born in the U.S.? Jones paused and chuckled. "How do I put this...'' Taking a cue from a press aide who interrupted the interview, Jones said, "I have my personal thoughts about that, but I'm not sure I want to make this public.''

On Herman Cain and the allegations that he sexually harassed former employees: "Frankly there's a whole lot about Cain that I like. I like anybody who stands a really good case of being the next man in the White House, who is not the man in the White House. I have no reason to believe these accusations are true. I've heard enough from the other side to believe they are spurious. Who knows? I want to believe they are spurious.''

On Texas Gov. Rick Perry: "Some really good friends of mine in Texas don't trust him a lick so that colors my view... I never got to the place where I could take him very seriously.''

On whether he will eventually endorse a GOP candidate: "It might actually hurt. Nobody's asked for that, and I'm not inclined to do that at all. There's nothing to push me to stick out my neck out for anybody at this point... I'm still waiting to see who peaks to the surface and stands the best chance of beating Obama.

Whoever that is, I'll back him to the hilt.''

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