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April 19, 2011

Keller, Jakes Among Obama's Prayer Breakfast Guests

President Obama spoke of the “grace” demonstrated by the resurrection at the Easter prayer breakfast Tuesday morning in the East Room of the White House.

Pastor Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Bishop T. D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Texas also spoke at the event. The breakfast is a “good excuse to bring together people who have been such extraordinary influences in my life and such great friends,” the president said in his opening remarks. Keller’s attendance was his first visit to the White House.

Other guests also included Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Suzan Johnson Cook, the president’s recently confirmed ambassador of international religious freedom, and faith leaders from Protestant, Catholic, and other religious groups. North Point Community Church pastor Andy Stanley and National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson were among participants in a list provided by the White House.

The president noted recent storms that have swept North Carolina, specifically pointing out Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and his wife, Dee, who “will be helping those communities rebuild after the devastation.” He also singled out USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah for his work with faith leaders.


Obama acknowledged the “hustle and bustle” as the “inbox keeps accumulating,” to a chuckling audience. Easter puts everything into perspective, the president said. “Everybody in this room has weighty responsibilities, from leading churches and denominations, to helping to administer important government programs, to shaping our culture in various ways,” he said. “And I admit that my plate has been full as well.”

But Holy Week is a reminder of God’s grace, Obama said after reading Isaiah 53:5. “This ‘Amazing Grace’ calls me to pray,” he said. “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. It calls me to praise God for the gift of … his Son and our Savior.”

Over a breakfast of mini foods—including mini yogurt parfaits, muffins and bagels—attendees also heard prayer from Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie and the Rev. Sharon Watkins and performances by the Washington Performing Arts Society Children of Gospel Choir and gospel singer Wintley Phipps.

“You notice that these days prayers are on an iPad,” the president said, pointing out the Apple device when he introduced Bishop McKenzie for the opening prayer. McKenzie thanked God for Easter as the “reversal of Good Friday” in her prayer.

The breakfast was hosted on the Tuesday before Easter in order to avoid conflict with Holy Week services, a White House official said. Joshua DuBois, the head of White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, opened the event with a short guest list and limited press coverage.

The president said that he plans to make the event, now in its second year, “annual” from now on. “The Easter Egg Roll, that’s well established,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd. Last year, Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels and Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen attended the breakfast.


A point of correction: Bp. Vashti McKenzie is an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bishop, not an Episcopal (ECUSA)bishop. Otherwise, kudos on this article.

Easter is not a reversal of Good Friday. The resurrection of the Messiah was vindication/validation that his sacrifice was completely satisfactory as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." I thank God that Easter did NOT reverse Good Friday. If the reversal occurred we would be still in our sin.

Easter is not the reversal of Good Friday, but the culmination of all that led to it! Easter is the triumph over everything that required Good Friday: our sin, alienation, death, judgment.

wonderful breakfest with a heretic

Why the multi-millionaire, anti-trinitarian TD Jakes at a Christian breakfast? His disciples give him Bentleys and call him Papa (Paula White) like the rajneeshi’s did. He is the apostle of wealth, always covered with bling and is usually hauled out to raise funds for TBN. One could go on (and on).

Which one is the heretic?

Beware! The President is on a campaign mode. He is once again using "influential" Christians to remake his image of a "Christian". Let us not fall into this deception again. This warning is for both the "influential" Christians and all Christian voters. Let us make the discernment based on Mr. Obama's actions and policies than his words.

Our president IS a Christian, a water baptised Christian who prays and heeds the words of Jesus to care for the sick and poor and down and outers.

I thank God for his heart to host this event and for his wonderful guests, especially Bishop T.D. Jakes.

And the 2012 Presidential Campaign BEGINS!

President Obama, thank you so much for being the voice and heartbeat of the voiceless and down trodden. I thank God every day for you. I pray for your safety and strength and continued grace in adversity and persecution. Glory be to God for His marvelous works, of which you are one.

Peace, Love and Prayers
to you and yours

M'yeh, I've never been impressed with Presidents and these "prayer breakfast." Doesn't matter if it's Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, they all follow the same format which follows as such:

President speaks many words.

Audience nods.

President speaks many more words.

Audience nods.

President concludes with more words without ever saying anything substantial other than what the audience expects to hear.

Audience applauds for hearing exactly what they expected to hear.

Breakfast is over, everyone out.

Now, if the President of the United States went toe-to-toe explaining/rationalizing/justifying his policies to Christians in...wait for it...Discussion...now that would be worthy of print.

Ultimately, it matters not a whit what anyone on this forum thinks or says about President Obama's Christian faith, no matter how much pleasure they may find in mocking it. What matters is the over-riding love on the cross for both Obama AND Obama's enemies. We would all do well to see ourselves more clearly as Jesus saw each one of us on that cross when he prayed: "Father forgive them for they know not what what they do."

Right you are, Velma! Thanks.

Thank you Velma for saying what was in my heart and more graciously than I would have.

I too want to say ... Well done Velma.
I love President Obama.
President Obama is the first President to ever host the Biblical Feast of Passover in the White House. He is a peace maker... and blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.

I was glad to see the President have this event again, even if I believe it was more political than anything. I do believe that he is an American Christian but his actions show he is not a Biblical Christian. By this I mean one would lives by what the Bile teaches. As to questionable so called Christian leaders like Joel Olsten or T. D, Jakes, they are a part of the religious landscape of the USA. Even if I have some real problems with the President he has my prayers to lead this country and that a real salvation in Jesus Christ.

Bruce Harris, how can you tell whether someone is an American Christian or a Biblical Christian? Do you have some sort of checklist? If a person scores a certain number of points, is he a certified Biblical Christian?

The Bible teaches many things, the most important of which is that Jesus died for our sins (even though we didn't deserve his sacrifice), and that, out of gratitude, we should live for Christ. Isn't this the ultimate mark of a Biblical Christian?

So, again, would you clearly explain how you have come to conclude with unwavering certainly that President Obama is not a Biblical Christian? Maybe he doesn't agree completely with your theological beliefs? At what point did he stop being a Biblical Christian? Can you back it up with Scripture?

This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me.

I have a problem with a President who claims to be a Christian and yet is the the most pro-abortion President we have ever had.

Wow, I sure wouldn't call him a peacemaker, as an early commenter said. I'm not a fan. But my position is, whether it is Obama or anyone else, if he says he is a Christian, then who are we to say otherwise. "Let a man examine himself," scripture says. It is not our job to speculate.

Therefore the Lord said:

“ Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, (Isaiah 29:13)

"Satan, their master, can disguise himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14)

It never ceases to surprise me how we can so easily fall for someone just because they're "Christian". Let us not forget that not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord", will enter the kingdom of God, but only those who do the will of the Father.

Abortion, homosexuality, this president is not a man of God. He opposes the very character and positions of Jesus, but to God be the glory, for nevertheless He is risen!

Many of you should be ashamed. You can pull bible verses out from any one of the 66 books to confirm your political stance. You have it all backwards. You are letting your political stance inform your faith. It really needs to be the other way around. According to the bible (Romans 10:9-10) OUR president is a Christian. In addition, God, according to the bible has given the power of judgment to Jesus Christ. He will judge men's hearts and salvation. Sure, you have the right to judge men by their fruits, but ultimately it will be up to God. In other words, to put it bluntly, there are people who picket every day against abortion and hate homosexuality, and they are going to hell because they never accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, someone's stance on a political issue moral or immoral doesn;t determine one's right into the perly gates. The bible says that there is only one inexcusable sin. I won't go into that. .Thank God it's not you. Otherwise, anyone who disagree's with your view of abortion, gay rights, etc. is going to hell.
One other noteworthy point. Nobody SUPPORTS abortion. I have yet to meet a person that does. The debate is over whether or not women should have the right to choose. If you can wrap your mind around that concept than perhaps the debate about it will be reshaped in your mind. Yes, the two are obviously directly related, but they have to be separarted for the debate to take on any logical meaning. God Bless.

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. TITUS 3:1-11

The Rev Franklin Graham's name was conspicuously absent!

Gordon, While I wholeheartedly agree with the first part of your comment, I disagree with your comment that nobody supports abortion. Yes, some people do. A popular Christian writer in California, whom I will not name, has explicitly stated in her writing that she is NOT pro-choice, she is PRO abortion. She believes there should be more abortions, that some children should never see the light of day or breathe their first breath. There are other people like that - all you have to do is read comment sections in newspapers or news magazines. People who are concerned about over-population; people who think a certain family has had one too many children; people who think an unborn baby is a mass, not a life; people who think women who have given birth to a disabled child should abort their second child out of an abundance of caution - all of these people are PRO abortion, not pro-choice.

It is very Biblical to judge leaders, and that applies to secular leader who claim to be part of the church. And there's plenty of room for deep cynicism with regard to the current Oval Office occupant.

Brother Paul, you are on thin ice. Brother Gordon and Brother Ed have correctly identified the Scriptures that guide us in matters for those in authority over us. A rebellious, unruly people bring down condemnation on their heads in the long run. The measure that we use to judge will be used to judge us.

For myself, I have to daily repent and guard my heart against cynicism towards Christians who appear to value politics more than discipleship. In the final analysis, what happens at these breakfasts or in the Oval Office is not our problem because the accountability is not ours but God's. The President merits one thing from us, and that is intercession.

On the positive side, I really appreciate how Obama is attempting to work with a variety of people and opinions to make a united effort for change. In this prayer breakfast, he recognizes the Christian message and its importance in people's lives. I appreciate how he respects the Christians and their faith, regardless of what he personally believes.
However, I am very concerned about his real beliefs as they line up with his speech. As other comments have said, President Obama wants votes. I do not blame him for that, but throughout his presidency he has shown the spirit of compromise. He wishes to mediate between all parties and beliefs, and no one does the religious splits well. I respect him as one of the main leaders of this country, but I feel no tension to believe one word he said in that speech. If he is really looking for change, he needs to act upon what he truly believes, not what any given person wants him to believe.

I am shocked and saddened by some of the responses here. There seems to be a lack of understanding about God's character and of our place in His world.

1. It is not our place as Christians to judge who is "in" the kingdom, and who is "out. Let me repeat: IT IS NOT OUR JOB. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to decide who is a sheep and who is a goat.

2. It IS our job to LOVE others. How else can the world know that Jesus is the way, truth and life? Let's say Obama turns out not to really be a Christian right now (which again, is not our place to even be discussing, but for the sake of argument I'm saying this; I have no idea where his heart is and can only go based on what he has said he believes). Well how on earth else is he or any of the other non-believers at this meeting supposed to BECOME a Christian, if not through the testimony of believers? What if God is using this meeting to bring more people to Himself? What if God is using this meeting to bring Obama to Himself? What if He was using this meeting to convict people that they need to know Him?

Please remember Jesus reserved His harshest words for Pharisees, that is the religious hypocrites. We are called to let our gentleness be made known to all, to speak the truth IN LOVE, and the second commandment is to LOVE our neighbors as ourselves. God have mercy on us all! I will send up a prayer for the malice-makers here.

If we are to believe that Obama is "the voice and heartbeat of the voiceless and down trodden," as Frances Ventress claims, why is he such a strong proponent of abortion? Few human beings are more "voiceless" than God's precious little ones, who can be killed in their mothers' wombs. Please note that it is not my intention to spread malice or hate; I simply do not understand how Bible-believing Christians can admire someone whose professed beliefs are in conflict with key biblical teachings. The Apostle Paul said it is the responsibility of believers to judge those inside the church (1 Corinthians 5:12). If Obama is indeed a Christian, his brothers and sisters in Christ need to hold him accountable when he is in error.

christians. Let the judgement begin.

Oh, JKB, look who's judging now.

Oh dear. Another rather depressing series of postings. Why are we so keen to make judgements about other people's professed faith? I'm glad that my fate is in the hands of God and not those of other Christians.

@Emyln: I agree that we need to be careful about making such judgments, but there is also the need to hold our fellow believers to account when their words and/or actions are in conflict with biblical teachings. Jesus said that we can know who His followers are by looking at their fruit; wouldn't this require some level of judgment? In addition, the Apostle Paul told Christians not to even associate with immoral people who call themselves brothers (1 Corinthians 5:11). I agree that sometimes, Christians are too quick to make judgments about other believers. Yet that doesn't give us the right to ignore the Bible's teachings about holding our brothers and sisters accountable.

As a Christian I have to follow the word of God and pray for those in authority. Be careful how you judge others. Only among the American Christians do you see such defamation on each other. Christians prayed and asked God for His choice for leadership. So who is wrong God or us? Are we praying as much as we are speaking against leadership? Be careful, so many Christians are joining the bandwagon of rebellion with those who are 'moral", morality is not Christianity. All of God's Word must be adhered to. It is so easy to point out faults, do not judge. Search your hearts to find out why there is a hatred of our leader. Are we praying, are we walking in love by our words and deeds? Be careful of the seeds of hate and rebellion that we as Christians are planting. After all of the hard words and criticism, will we as a Christian body be able to say follow me as I follow Christ. Will the unsaved want to listen to the Gospel of Christ after hearing our opinions and comments about others. Remember it is not about us, but about exalting Christ, not about our social status, race, ideology but the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a delicate balance between passing judgment and tolerating evil and sin. For those who would tell Christians not to judge, please remember that speaking out against evil is also a command of Scripture. If you read the prophets Isaiah, Habakkuk, Micah, and others, you will see scathing indictments of both national and religious leaders. When Jesus spoke so harshly to the Pharisees, He was addressing Israel's leaders.

I agree with Julie. I think we should speak out against evil. While we should hold people who say they are Christians accountable, I don't believe God gives us the right to question whether or not they are Christians. I am as guilty as the next person in doing this. When a man leaves his wife, I say, How can he be a Christian? When someone cheats on their income taxes, I may ask, How can they be a Christian? When someone dilutes cancer medication and as a result hundreds, if not thousands of people die a needless and painful death, I say, Surely this man is not a Christian. But that is not my call. That is God's call. I think God knows something about their soul that I do not know.

@Stacy: As Christians, it is our job to full of grace AND truth.

I would highly recommend reading Randy Alcorn's The Grace and Truth Paradox. Yes, we need to love others. But what kind of love is a love that witholds the truth?