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January 18, 2010

Obama Tells Church Faith `Keeps Me Calm'

President Obama visited Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, a historic congregation that was visited by Martin Luther King Jr.

President Obama addressed how his faith guides him and the importance of hard work as he marked the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a Washington church on Sunday.

"Folks ask me sometimes why I look so calm," he said at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, a historic congregation that was visited by King. "I have a confession to make here. ... There are times when it feels like all these efforts are for naught, and change is so painfully slow in coming, and I have to confront my own doubts. But let me tell you during those times, it's faith that keeps me calm. It's faith that gives me peace."

The president spoke for almost half an hour in the usual spot for the sermon on the church's program, addressing about 500 people gathered in the Family Life Center of the congregation founded by freed slaves in 1866. At times he spoke like a preacher, opening his speech with "Good morning. Praise be to God," and concluding with "through God all things are possible."

He spoke of holding the kind of "faith that breaks the silence of an earthquake's wake with the sound of prayer and hymns sung by the Haitian community," as the congregation applauded in agreement.

King visited the church in 1956, Obama noted, "as a 27-year-old preacher to speak on what he called the challenge of a new age."

At the time of King's visit the Supreme Court had ruled that the desegregated bus system in Montgomery, Ala., he opposed was unconstitutional. The high court had also ruled in Brown v. Board of Education against school segregation but schools and states had "ignored it with impunity," Obama recalled.

"Here we are more than half a century later, once again facing the challenges of a new age," he said. Even with "fits and starts," he said there has been progress over bigotry and prejudice.

"It's that progress that made it possible for me to be here today, for the good people of this country to elect an African-American the 44th president of the United States of America."

He said the civil rights movement in particular and the country in general have been successful when all Americans are responsible and work hard.

"In this country, there's no substitute for hard work," Obama said. "No substitute for a job well done, no substitute for being responsible stewards of God's blessings."

Obama, who attended with first lady Michelle Obama and his daughters Malia and Sasha, sat up front with the pastor, singing along when the congregation broke out in "We Shall Overcome" and joking with the pastor about how he might permit his new nephew to meet the pastor's new granddaughter in about 30 years.

It was obvious that this was not a typical service at Vermont Avenue, with the pastor, Rev. Cornelius Wheeler, offering warnings to worshippers before it began about not leaving the area of their seats for exuberant worship or photos.

In the last year, Obama has visited three other Washington churches: the Washington National Cathedral for his inaugural prayer service; St. John's Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House on the day of his inauguration and on Easter; and Nineteenth Street Baptist
Church the Sunday before his inauguration. Last July he said he may attend "a number of different churches" and enjoys "powerful" sermons from the chaplain who leads services at the chapel at Camp David, the presidential retreat.

As he introduced Obama, Wheeler said he was "peacock-proud and tickled pink" to present him and assured the president his congregation was proud of his inauguration and "got your back."

Acknowledging it might not be politically correct to say so, Wheeler added: "It took them eight years to mess it all up. I can't see why they don't have a little bit of patience while you're fixing it."

Recently retired usher John S. Harrison said at age 87 he made a special effort to be there.

"I got out of my bed to come down here and see this because this is history," said Harrison, who was part of the church when King spoke there.

Comments

Obama has faith. Sure, we all do... in something. His faith clearly is not in Jesus, the messiah of the Bible. He appears have some manufactured counterfeit.

Clearly, he doesn't believe in the Bible. I am so thankful he doesn't. If everyone followed the Bible, like the writers had intended, we would still have slavery. Check out the Old Testament. A true Christian can't pick and choose what they want to believe in the Bible. The Bible has become a ventriloquism dummy-- people make it say whatever they want.

I disagree with those who say Obama doesn't believe in the Bible. His support for the common good far better aligns with the Bible's 100+ passages opposing greed and oppression of the poor than Republican support of the interests of the wealthy and powerful does.

Some say his support of abortion rights is anti-biblical, but abortion isn't in the Bible, because it didn't exist back then. In fact, Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 says that those never born are better off than the oppressed who suffer in this world. So that proves that the suffering of the poor is a bigger issue than abortion.

Like many Christians, I oppose abortion, but Ecc. 4:1-3 has shown me that it's not issue #1.

K Scott Schaeffer, that passage does not refer to unborn children killed by abortion, although it is one of the finest examples of taking a passage out of context that I've seen in a while. Many abortions occur somewhat late in the pregnancy and, given that the nervous system has developed well by the 25th week of pregnancy, that means that the unborn child is capable of feeling pain. Therefore, using the passage in this fashion is essentially saying that brutally killing an unborn child is no big deal.

I'm amazed how so many believers can support anyone who goes against God's word. I respect Obama as a person and as the President of the United States. I'm excited that he is the first African American president. However, I refuse to support anyone who goes against the word of God. Any pastor or christian who supported Obama just because he is black should ask themselves ,"Would Jesus have supported Obama's views?" Tracy J. Brown, CEO http://www.urbanawarenessusa.org

Christian Lawyer, while I will acknowledge that many abortions are performed in the 1st trimester, your quote appears to contradict itself in saying that "1.4% at or after 21 weeks" while also admitting that "Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual study on abortion statistics does not calculate the exact gestational age for abortions performed past the 20th week, there are no precise data for the number of abortions performed after viability." Therefore, I question the validity of the admitted estimates.

Christian Lawyer, it is this lack of precision that results in my questioning the statistics. Also, for future reference, Wikipedia is not the best source for information outside of pop culture. I know you quoted the report cited by the Wikipedia article, for which I am thankful. However, because of the level of development at 21 weeks, I will now argue that it nevertheless involves killing a human being who is capable of feeling pain at this time, which goes back to the original point I was making to K Scott Schaeffer.

??

To believe and to know are 2 different things that don't always go hand in hand. However both are very complimentary of each other. Christopher Columbus didn't know what was beyond the horizon of the sea. He believed to be a new route to India. Fault finders, nit pickers et al. will never be satisfy with anything that does not fit exactly to the very minimal detail, their very particular views about whatever.

It's very funny if not a Phony! That so many church goers, wannabe Evangelicals want to dismiss Obama's Faith as not Biblical or him as a non-Christian. The very same do not hesitate; neither have the Scruples necessary. When they throw a white blanket over an entire Nation, populated in part by all kind of Criminals and Felons and call it a "christian nation".

Then in a most Hypocritical way after doing that. Then turn around and pretend to deny this Man his claim to Faith in Christ. How much Hypocrisy is involve, or required to do that? Go figure!

I'm sure they believe themselves to be the kind of people, whom God himself wants to rub elbows with.

I heard then candidate Obama. Loud and Clear over the microphones and on TV refering to Jesuschrist as his Lord and Saviour. For many that is not enough. Since I'm not a nitpicker or a faultfinder. That was enough for me, to consider him a christian. Now I don't rub elbows with the Man up there. But I know he wants to Save MANY. So really! It will be extremely interesting to really know and not just believe, what does the Man up there have said about that. However, that will require a lot of effort.

Much more effort than the average wannabes want to put forward.

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FATHER, as I bow my head down before yours and JESUS feet, I pray you could forgive us as your children for all the comments made that I have read here in JESUS NAME I pray amen. As I'm on my kness praying for everyone who made a comment about President Obama and other topics. I pray you take a good look at Scripture, especially Matthew22:24-27, Romans 12:9-21 and most of all John 3:16-17. If GOD can change Apostle Paul, HE can change anyone. GOD is the only judge here. We need to start praying more, loving more and encouraging people more all around this world. Prayer changes things and we have a direct line to GOD in doing so. Pray for President Obama,none of us know this man personally but GOD does and GOD knows HIS heart. None of us can hide from GOD.HE see's all we do. Stop looking at the speck in someone elses eye when you have a 2x4 in your own. By the way, JESUS rubbed elbows with everyone. In Scripture, HE said "I did not come to save the righteous, but the sick and the lost."
Remember in Chronicles and Revelation who GOD addresses first, HIS people.

Thank you Cheryl I couldn't have said any better. The answers to all our questions and situations that come up in our lives are answered and solved if we could just humble ourselves to ask God for wisdom daily.

Eccl: 12:13 Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is a man's all (14) For God will bring every work into judgement, Including every secret thing, Whether good or Evil.

King Solomon's message is clear. Life lived in the will of God is the only life worth living. God is love people so much so that he sent his only son....Peace!!

I believe that actions speak louder that words. I judge people by their actions and actions tell me so much. I believe in giving everyone a chance until the way they act changes that belief.

I question if most of the commenters on this site are really followers of the biblical Jesus (real name...not even Jesus-- study). As I read, the gospels and deconstruct the text, he to me was more of revolutionary than a man who followed the status quo mouthed by religious leaders of his time. Some of your comments appear to echo religiousity more so than the spirituality than Jesus ushered in. Jesus did not throw away the law but he disected it to its spiritual essence. Many appear based on the comments to be bent on noticing the speckle of sawdust in brother Obama's eye and failing to see the huge plank that may be perhaps in their own eyes. Just my 1/8 a cent.