Faith, doubt, and the Resurrection...
President Obama on Wednesday morning hosted his third annual Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House, speaking about the Resurrection and the roll of faith in overcoming doubt to about 150 guests in the East Room. Most were members of the clergy, from all denominations and congregations large and small across the US. One unidentified pastor wore a hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen killed by a neighborhood watchman in February. Though he joked that he was not going to attempt a sermon in front of professionals, the President spoke about the power of faith in overcoming doubt, and the fact that Jesus was a man, too. (Above: The President during his remarks)
Vice President Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, also addressed the gathering. The President held his first Easter Prayer Breakfast in 2010 as polls showed that about 1 in 4 Americans did not believe he is a Christian.
Easter is "a chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day, and all that Christ endured -- not just as a Son of God, but as a human being," the President said. "For like us, Jesus knew doubt. Like us, Jesus knew fear."
But in the end, President Obama said, Jesus confronted his fear and followed God’s plan.
“It helps us provide an eternal perspective for whatever temporal challenges we face. It puts in perspective our small problems. It gives us courage. It gives us hope.”
“There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us,” he added. “But that’s why we should remember Christ’s own doubts.”
The President also said that wherever he goes, he is told that people are praying for him, even if they don't agree with his politics.
The guests, seated at round tables for ten, included the Rev. Al Sharpton, Suzan Johnson Cook, US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom; Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Archbishop Demetrios, Greek Orthodox Church; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archdiocese of Washington DC; Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta; Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rev. Julius Scruggs, President, National Baptist Convention; noted Christian artist Sara Groves; Sister Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association; Pastor Joel Hunter, of Northland, a Church Distributed in Florida, where First Lady Obama gave her keynote address for the second anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. (Above: Biden greet guests)
Dr. Cynthia Hale, an appointee to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, said the prayer after the President's remarks.
Additional guests, according to a White House aide, were "heads of major denominations, non-profit leaders and prominent mainline, Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic leaders from across the spectrum."
The transcript of the President's remarks.
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; second by Getty/pool