President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, on Feb. 5, 2015.
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Obama’s Easter prayer event riles far-right critics

President Obama’s Easter prayer breakfast this week generated a little national news with a lighthearted moment. The president, straying slightly from his prepared text, told attendees, “On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that’s a topic for another day.” The audience laughed and applauded.
 
Obama quickly added with a smile, “I was about to veer off. I’m pulling it back.” Attendees laughed again.
 
The bulk of the president’s remarks, however, were devoted to Obama giving witness, testifying to his Christian convictions. From the official transcript:
“For me, the celebration of Easter puts our earthly concerns into perspective. With humility and with awe, we give thanks to the extraordinary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Savior. We reflect on the brutal pain that He suffered, the scorn that He absorbed, the sins that He bore, this extraordinary gift of salvation that He gave to us. And we try, as best we can, to comprehend the darkness that He endured so that we might receive God’s light.
 
“And yet, even as we grapple with the sheer enormity of Jesus’s sacrifice, on Easter we can’t lose sight of the fact that the story didn’t end on Friday. The story keeps on going. On Sunday comes the glorious Resurrection of our Savior…. Today, we celebrate the magnificent glory of our risen Savior. I pray that we will live up to His example. I pray that I will live up to His example. I fall short so often. Every day I try to do better. I pray that we will be strengthened by His eternal love. I pray that we will be worthy of His many blessings.”
By any fair measure, this is some of the most overtly theological language Americans will hear from any president, and it makes those who question the president’s Christianity sound that much more ridiculous.
 
But what makes Obama’s Easter prayer event at the White House that much more striking is the truly unhinged reaction from the far-right, which was unexpectedly disgusted by his remarks.
The Daily Caller blasted Obama for his off-the-cuff remark about some “less-than-loving” Christians, accusing him of maligning Christians, adding, “The important thing is that he’s better than you, Christians, and he doesn’t mind saying so.” […]
 
In a column for Fox Nation titled, “Obama Smears Christians During Easter Speech,” Fox radio host Todd Starnes wrote that Obama was “talking smack” about Christians, and criticized the president for failing to mention radical Islam. Starnes claimed, “He never bashes Muslims on Muslim holidays, but he seems to take great pleasure in dumping on Christians during our holidays.” […]
 
The conservative website WND.com blasted Obama’s remarks in a headline reading, “Obama Takes Swipe At Christians – Again!”
That’s really just a small sampling. One Fox News host said yesterday Obama’s remarks “make people wonder about his Christian faith” because the president doesn’t say “nice things about Christians.” A Fox News guest added last night, referencing the president’s speech, “I don’t think in any sense he is a Christian.”
 
Just so we’re clear, Obama issued an Easter statement that read in part, “With humility and awe, we give thanks for the extraordinary sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation.” He then hosted Easter festivities at the White House for children and their families. He then hosted a prayer breakfast in which he, quite literally, celebrated “the glorious Resurrection of our Savior.”
 
And in conservative media, this is proof that Obama is hostile towards Christianity.
 
All of this, of course, comes on the heels of the right-wing apoplexy in February over the president’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. It’s almost as if far-right media activists have some kind of weird preoccupation with the president’s faith, which skews their judgment and leads them to say dumb things in public.
 

Barack Obama and Conservative Media

Obama's Easter prayer event riles far-right critics