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Obama Bares His Soul for Easter Event

posted by mconsoli

(RNS) President Obama bared his soul before a cross section of Christian leaders at a White House Easter breakfast on Tuesday (April 6), where he spoke publicly of his faith in redemption through Jesus in his most personal terms since becoming president.
Addressing his “brothers and sisters in Christ” among the nearly 90 pastors, community activists, and bishops in attendance, Obama spoke of “our risen savior” and the inspiration he takes from Christ’s resurrection.
“We are awed by the grace he showed even to those who would have killed him,” Obama said, pausing occasionally to glance at written notes. “We are thankful for the sacrifice he gave for the sins of humanity. And we glory in the promise of redemption in the resurrection.”
Among those seated with presidential aides and cabinet secretaries in the gilded East Room were Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican’s U.S.
ambassador, Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, and National Council of Churches President Peg Chemberlin. They were joined by former members of Obama’s faith advisory council and prominent black clergy, who met privately with the president before the breakfast.
Obama said the Easter breakfast, along with a recent Passover Seder and a Ramadan dinner last fall, was part of his pledge to make the White House “a place where all people would feel welcome.” Presidential aides also said it gave Obama the opportunity to thank Christian leaders for their community service.
But the breakfast also provided a platform for Obama to speak openly about his Christian faith, even as a small but stubborn minority of Americans believe he is Muslim.
Obama did not directly address those doubts on Tuesday, but said: “as Christians, we believe that redemption can be delivered — by faith in Jesus Christ. And the possibility of redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character; make whole the incompleteness of a soul.”
The president also said that of all the Gospel stories, Jesus’ last words on the cross — “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” — especially resonate with him during the Easter season. “These words were spoken by our Lord and savior, but they can just as truly be spoken by every one of us here today,” Obama said.
Tuesday’s breakfast comes during a faith-filled week for the president, as the first family celebrated Easter Sunday at an African Methodist Episcopal Church in one of this city’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods.
“For those who are wondering or have doubts about whether he is authentically Christian, I think today’s message puts all doubts to rest,” said the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, another Houston megachurch pastor who attended Tuesday’s breakfast.
Obama’s father was a Kenyan Muslim-turned-atheist, his mother an agnostic, and his Indonesian stepfather an unorthodox Muslim. Caldwell, who is close to Obama and his predecessor, President George W. Bush, said he is galled by the number of Americans — one in 10 according to a 2009 poll — who refuse to believe Obama is Christian.
“Never in modern history has a president said: “I am a Christian,” and others said, “No, you’re not,”‘ Caldwell said. “It’s stupid and an insult to him.”
Caldwell was also one of about 20 black clergy — from denominational heads to pastors who knew Obama when he was a community organizer in Chicago — who gathered with the president privately before the breakfast. The group prayed and talked about needs in the black community — particularly summer jobs for youths amid a faltering job market. Obama said there is $3 million devoted to a program addressing the issue in his budget, Caldwell said.
Obama’s meeting with black clergy came as some were grumbling that the president brushed aside black leaders during his first year in the White House.
“His first year, he was hit with so much — many people were anticipating our chance to sit down with him,” said the Rev. Cynthia Hale, a megachurch pastor from Decatur, Ga., who attended the meeting and gave a blessing at the breakfast.
Hale said Obama’s support among blacks remains strong, as many believe their communities’ concerns remain high on his agenda.
“The health-care disparity is our issue. Education is our issue.
Consumer protection is our issue,” Hale said. “The president is addressing the concerns of African-Americans every day.”
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • Doug

    May God Bless our President and this Great Nation!

  • nnmns

    “And the possibility of redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character; make whole the incompleteness of a soul.”
    In the case of a lot of leading Republican politicians, who refuse to engage in governing but lie to blame the Democrats, who were elected with a real mandate, their claimed Christianity has not straightened the crookedness of their characters or completed their dead souls.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Ah, nnmns, that is because demagogues who wave the flag and hold their Bibles aloft are NOT Christians any more than they are loyal Americans. They are a form of life found at the bottom of stagnant pools of water, and real Christians and real Americans who encounter them are instantly inspired to look around for a place to scrape off their shoes.

  • nnmns

    I hope they are so inspired come election time.

  • Namer

    Reading and referring to earlier comments, I’m adding mine:
    — others (here) alleging one is “not a real Christian” if and as one is not involved in Obama’s racism? Note the article (and the “preachers”) identify their “religion” and Obama’s in racial terms, which isn’t a reflection of Christianity but of humanism;
    — Obama alludes (yet again) to Jews in a deeply derogatory fashion (“those who would kill him” referring to Christ);
    — Obama’s wandering references to “resurrection” avoids Christ resurrected, focuses (again) on humanism (“we can all hope for resurrection,” etc.); it’s not “resurrection” that saves souls, it’s belief in Christ as Savior and Lord, something I don’t ever hear Obama proclaim;
    — Obama’s a humanist; Marxism is incompatible with Christianity (Christ never advises us to force/coerce anyone to forfeit personal property that a certain class of others will then seize control of and use, nor does Christ advise that people will/should be “fined” or taxed if they don’t succumb to financial/political force, but Obama “deeply” condones these quite evil practices);
    Christ speaks to the individual. Not to race, not to “only” one race or another, AND, the White House is NOT a temple except in the mind of Barack Obama who, apparently, feels his presence there makes it into something like that.
    These Easter Sunday doings do point out yet again, however, just how clearly humanist (that means, profane, not Christian) so many of these “race identifying” people today are, and why and how easily they then defame Christ and Christianity in their political processes. I find this article appauling as I do, also, the outrageous defammation of Christ by Barack Obama and those who “encourage” him “spiritually.”

  • Sandy

    God bless our President, and guide him as he leads our country through its current trouble and turmoil.

  • Namer

    Please note that Muslims revere Jesus Christ, but not as a Divine Savior, the only son of God. Muslims refer to Christ as a “man” (purely human, with special prophetic abilities, but only human) (that is, they deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ as Savior).
    Just as Obama does (the above).
    Obama refers to Christ’s death on the cross statement uttered to God, the Father, as being such that “any” (other) human being would or could make. Note Obama’s presumption: he and other humans could just as easily be there, be him, do that, etc.
    This again denies the Divinity — sole, only, singular, as in Only Son of God, Savior, Divine — of Jesus Christ.
    That these “preachers” present — and not on Easter Sunday at that, allegedly ‘celebrating’ Easter — exploit Christ like this for their political purposes is just awful.

  • Namer

    I pray that God guides our United States of America out of the influences of evil.

  • nnmns

    Namer I hope you are able to overcome your racist (apparently) bigotry and your fanciful distinctions between people.

  • mjm

    If President Obama is truely a Christian, Then why does his policies do not follow what is written in God’s word, The Holy Bible? Either you follow God 100% or you make up your own god and pick and choose what you will follow. God’s Word says that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is as simple as that.

  • Your Name

    Here we go again. Narrow minded “christians” are using legalistic terms to put our President in a box. First of all I am sick of my precious faith bieng used as a club to either include one political party and exclude another. Wake up GOD belongs to neither party or ideology. Stop this nonesense now. First of all The President is a secular leader he wasn’t elected to be Pastor in chief regardless of who he is. Can we all grow up and show “the world” that we aren’t a bunch of little children wistfully judging this man. This kind of crap reinforces everything those that judge our faith say about us.

  • rickster

    The Bible says, “you will know them bt their “fruit”. What kind of “fruit” ie, the results of faith does the President emit?

  • jestrfyl

    My frustration – I think – is with this article more than with Mr Obama. The only pastors mentioned all serve various “mega-churches”. Yet most of the churches in the US are small churches. i realize there is some efficiency to speaking with pastors who represent large groups of people (“members” is a slippery term with many of these churches). But I hope – and expect – that some of the pastors at these meetings were from smaller but still influential churches. I realize writers like to identify the high & mighty that attend events. I think this writer would have had a better piece if a few quotes from pastors from smaller churches were included.

  • cknuck

    I wonder who wrote his speech for him the article mentions that he, “pausing occasionally to glance at written notes”. my problem is with what appears as politically motivated religious folly, and trying to be all things to all people while not being none.
    It is true one can be a good Christian while observing and respecting other faiths but first one has to be a good Christian. I’m not saying Obama is not a good Christian but so far I have not observed evidence that he is, and that observation has little to do with politics.

  • Ken

    The Bible says, “you will know them bt their “fruit”. What kind of “fruit” ie, the results of faith does the President emit?
    He’s a very hard worker and appears to be an excellent father, for starters. What you really mean, I suppose, is that a Christian must espouse certain particular political views.

  • jestrfyl

    Having lived in the DC area, I write from some experience. You are totally correct that this and all of these prayer events have been – and will probably always be – political events. That means they are carefully crafted, scripted, and played. For all of that, I believe Mr Obama has been proving himself to be a well constructed and thoughtful person of faith. He is trying to work out the biblical call to care for each other and extend gracious hospitality on a national scale. I think it works better on a personal or small group level, but his orientation and mine are not the same. But our political and theological orientation does seem aligned in many ways.

  • our founding truth

    The only reason immature Christians at the least, such as, Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, make comments as they do, is because they deny the Bible, because they don’t know what it says.
    Jesus said, “He who denies my word, does not love me.” This Caldwell and definitely Barack Obama, deny hundreds of verses in the Bible.
    Obama is not a Christian, he is a unitarian universalist, who denies the Deity of Christ, and no doubt, the sacrificial blood atonement for sin, by Christ.

  • cknuck

    Very well said jest you certainly can craft a statement and I mean that in a good way. But my problem with most politicians and their faith walk is that most politicians serve the masters who have funded their campaign. I recently have been pulling back much of the heat out of my comments concerning Obama but that’s only because his opponents have proved to be such asses. But I still envision financial disaster with our budget because of some of the directions he is politically motivated to pursue. Many people try to justify by mentioning the pass but our pass political blunderers should leave us motivated to be even more fiscally responsible.

  • Janine

    What a phony. How did this man ever get elected?! I guess you can fool half of the people all of the time….

  • Henrietta22

    President Obama said he wanted to make everyone who visits the White House feel at home. He is doing that in the Religious Dept., all people. This is good fruit.
    Obama said, “As Christians, we believe that redemption can be delivered–by faith in Jesus Christ”. How can you deniers of Obama mis-understand these words? Or did you take time to read them?
    Janine, the man got elected because the people of America wanted him to be elected. Very simple.

  • jestrfyl

    We are getting closer all the time. An Easter miracle? No just a sense of common faith that is stronger than the nonsense differences.

  • BaldEagle

    April 7, 2010 6:20 PM
    What a phony. How did this man ever get elected?! I guess you can fool half of the people all of the time….
    I could not agree with you more.

  • cknuck

    H22’s quote, “Obama said, “As Christians, we believe that redemption can be delivered–by faith in Jesus Christ”. How can you deniers of Obama mis-understand these words? Or did you take time to read them?”
    He certainly did, his words were scripted!
    “Obama said, pausing occasionally to glance at written notes.”

  • Your Name

    Is this is what “we” have sunk to. Doesn’t it say in the bible did it say we should be praying not judging our leaders. Saints have been so conditioned by Rove to be shills for the Republican party that they have lost their minds. Get this now they silence Christians because Republicans can’t win on pro-choice and family values marriage issues. So fellow Christians – How’s that selling out to the Republican party working fer ya???

  • Mark B.

    Because one stands in a garage and knows how an engine runs , that does not make him a car. Christ said ” a tree is known by it’s fruit”.

  • Henrietta22

    Well at least Cknuck, our President didn’t have to write on his hand to remember what he was supposed to remember. I’ve done it myself in speeches and it didn’t make me disengenuous or anyone else that does. Truthfully there is no way he could please you if he turned blue, green, pink or polka dots along with people who dislike him as you all continue to do.

  • cknuck

    The first comment on Palin is funny H22 but I haven’t the foggiest as to what color Obama is or would turn into has anything to do with anything.

  • Sue

    Whether he’s a follower of Islam, I dont know. My instincts say ‘yes.’
    However, there’s NO DOUBT IN MY MIND that this is NOT a Christian. This is the same guy who mocked people ‘clinging to their guns and religion,’ who canceled the traditional Day of Prayer, and who has been recorded saying that he believes salvation can come through many paths.
    Christians know that that’s a lie. There is only one path and you wont find that path following Mohammed, Buddha, L. Ron Hubbard or anybody else but Jesus.
    You can continue to swallow this devil’s lies, but for me, I’ll just judge his fruit.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Sue’s comment is instructive. One of the most profoundly true statements attributed to Jesus is that we are known not by shouting “Lord! Lord!” but by our fruit — what we do, how we live. Yet some Christians like Sue manage to interpret “fruit” as a measure of how loudly we proselytize. Or perhaps how mindlessly we can nod in agreement with Republican talking points.
    Truly, education in America is a shambles.

  • cknuck

    Though I don’t totally agree with Sue it reads like she is weighing Obama’s fruit by his very own statements and actions H4C. The whole many paths thing is contrary to the words of Christ and subsequently would not be a position that one who follows Christ would take.

  • Your Name

    The Republican party has lost its religion in becomming more libertarian. Reliable hot button social issues aren’t paying dividends during this election cycle. How’s that Christian Conservatism workin out for yer??? What do “we” do when our positions as Christian’s no longer move a secular electorate. Do we still maintain them then? Somewhere in the back of the book it reads that the world turns on “us” – how do you handle that when some Christians expect the President to be Pope also?

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