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Beliefnet News

Obama Invokes Christian Beliefs at Easter Prayer Breakfast

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama on Tuesday (April 19) said Jesus’ death and resurrection on Easter “puts everything else in perspective,” at a White House event that showcased his increasing comfort with discussing his faith.

Using the kind of personal religious language that he had once shied away from in public, Obama spoke of “the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross” in an Easter prayer breakfast for about 150 guests and staff.

“And we’re reminded that in that moment, (Jesus) took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection,” Obama said.

The Easter event displayed the president’s willingness to engage religion on his own terms, even has he has decided not to be a regular churchgoer or fully embrace public events like the annual National Day of Prayer.


The Easter breakfast — Obama’s second, and following a Passover seder at the White House on Monday — also reflects an ongoing effort to combat lingering doubts about the president’s faith.

Last year’s breakfast came in the wake of polls that revealed as many as one in five Americans believe he is a Muslim. Since then, Obama has talked more openly about his personal faith, particularly around holidays like Easter and Christmas.

“He’s had this problem with how to practice his faith; every president’s had this problem,” said the Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America, who attended Tuesday’s breakfast.

“And I was thinking this morning that this sort of event is at least one way that he’s found, very authentically, to have his faith nurtured,” he said.


Obama quoted from the Book of Isaiah — “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities,” which Christians see as a prophecy of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

“This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this ‘Amazing Grace’ calls me to reflect,” Obama said. “And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short.”

White House officials said they held the event before Easter so the breakfast wouldn’t conflict with participants’ own worship services.

Attendees included several members of the White House faith-based advisory panel, including Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Orlando megachurch pastor Joel Hunter and African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie.


The event also drew several prominent conservatives who have not always seen eye to eye with the White House, including National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson, the Rev. Tim Keller of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

– KEVIN ECKSTROM, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Happy Easter President Obama, First lady Michelle, and First daughters.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Sorry I forgot the First dog! My Maltese on my lap reminded me.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Frederick Arend

    Same sex unions make no logical sense whatsoever, because something cannot be two different things simultaneously. Marriage cannot be the union of one man and one women and also the union of two same sex couples. The rghts and priveleges of the union of one man and one women are give to this union by society in orde to insure to continuation of the human race and should not accomplish this objective.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Henrietta I second your wishes. And to you, too.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    Obama ought to be ashame he pulls the religion card while campaigning when he knows he is a fake lying puppet. Too little too late he won’t fool the Christian community again.

  • Job


    “Obama ought to be ashame he pulls the religion card while campaigning when he knows he is a fake lying puppet.”

    And you will be applying the same standard to George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – not to mention all the evangelical preachers and organizers who supported them – when exactly? If you oppose it when the other party does it but not when your own does it, then you are committing the sin of hypocrisy. Take the beam out of your own eye before worrying about the mote in Obama’s.

    I am still waiting on the first prominent conservative Christian to acknowledge the sheer outrage of Bush’s claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and then going on to claim that God told him to invade Iraq. Oh yeah, and what about all of these Republican Christians – who are more Republican than Christian – lining up to praise and support Mormon Glen Beck? It isn’t theology that folks like you care about … it is politics. Why not go ahead and admit it?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    ck is a committed Republican and bigot. Those two “principals” inform most of his actions.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Well you have that right nnmns and Job. Thanks for the wishes nnmns, and you have a great day too, and not too many chocolate bunnies!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    He was at an Easter Breakfast—why shouldn’t he express his beliefs??

    Well said, Job.

    Incase I forget–HAPPY EASTER to you Henrietta22 and those others of you for whom that is a very special day. ;o)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    Job you start with a premise and try to make your point, you are just as mush of a dweeb as nnmns. I didn’t vote for, support or believe Bush stop wearing you a$$ for a hat get the facts before you accuse. My stance has consistently been that mostly all politicians are manipulators and liars. nnmns anyone who don’t endorse homosexual behavior are bigots to you, it’s not a race of people it is a behavior that I disagree is normal or healthy and your name calling will not make it change dillweed you are a bigot against religious people more so than I am against atheist like yourself. you make the case that I am forcing you to hear about Christ when you are the one who is preaching against God every time a religious article is presented. H your easter is about bunnies not Christ so it is easy for you to kudos to nnmns your in the same boat rowing the same direction although on the side you try to claim to be Christian.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    I see ck’s vacation has worn off.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Happy Easter Pagansister, have a great day with your family! Oh, and be sure you don’t eat too many chocolate bunnies! As for me I’m going to eat as many as I want. 😉

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Happy Easter Ck! Don’t eat too many chocolate bunnies! 😉 You are so mean-spirited, and never stop kicking anyone who you don’t approve of do you?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Many symbols of life at this time of year, cknuck, and bunnies are one of them. (not just the Easter story). What would Easter be without the bunny, or Christmas without Santa? Not 1/2 as much fun.

    H22: I will be joining you in consuming those chocolate bunnies!! :o) Enjoy!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    nnmns when you call me a bigot and think that is okay then I respond you stay civil and I will but I don’t do inferior very well. pagan the truth is not mean spirited and if I have to make my point with an emphasis to be able to have a point here then I will. I don’t eat chocolate bunnies or play santa those are your symbols not mine and don’t necessarily equate to the only way to have fun.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Those are MY symbols cknuck? Guess some Christians don’t understand that. Those symbols do not detract from the full meaning of those 2 Christian celebrations. As a kid in my Methodist home, those wonderful additions to those 2 celebrations made them even more precious.
    No chocolate bunnies? You’re missing a lot, cknuck. DEElicious.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    chocolate flavored sugary fat with absolutely no nutritional value? no thanks keep your bunnies pagan and offer a gift of some value next time.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    What a party pooper, cknuck. No chocolate bunnies? You mean you never eat things that have no nutritional value? Oh well. As to symbols of life–try bunnies, chicks, eggs, flowers—all symbols of life(even for some Christians–but probably not you) along with your Messiah reactivating after being declared dead. We Pagans have actually contributed to your beliefs celebration.(or did things get stolen by the upstarts?):o)

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