The story of Obama's faith begins with his mother, Ann. Raised in the Midwest by two lapsed Christians, she lived and traveled throughout the world appreciating all religions but confessing to none. One of Ann's favorite spiritual texts was "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth," a set of PBS interviews with Bill Moyers that traces the common themes of religion and mythology, Obama's half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, tells NEWSWEEK. When the family lived in Indonesia, Ann, on occasion, would take the children to Catholic mass; after returning to Hawaii, they would celebrate Easter and Christmas at United Church of Christ congregations. Ann later went back to Indonesia with Maya, and when Obama visited, they would take him to Borobudur, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world. Later, while working in India, Ann lived for a time in a Buddhist monastery.
Visiting temples was not just tourism for Ann. "These kinds of experiences were a regular part of our childhood and our upbringing, and were important to [our mother] because they involved ritual," says Maya. "She thought that ritual was very beautiful. The idea of human beings' striving to be better, having the curiosity and questions about all these things, [was] perpetual and constant inside her."
From "Finding His Faith," an article in Newsweek tracing
President-elect Barack Obama's spiritual evolution.