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At Easter breakfast, Obama talks faith in face of doubt
President Obama bows his head during Wednesday's prayer breakfast.
April 4th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

At Easter breakfast, Obama talks faith in face of doubt

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - Facing a re-election bid and contending with a bitterly partisan Congress, President Obama spoke Wednesday at a White House Easter prayer breakfast about keeping faith in the face of doubt.

“I am not going to stand up here and give a sermon,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House, addressing an audience thick with Christian leaders. “It’s always a bad idea to give a sermon in front of professionals.”

But Obama proceeded to deliver a minisermon that centered on Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ expressed doubt and anguish on the eve of his crucifixion, appealing to God for a reprieve.

Obama said that Easter is an opportunity to appreciate “all that Christ endured not just as a son of God, but as a human being,” according to a White House transcript.

“It is only because Jesus conquered his own anguish, conquered his fear, that we’re able to celebrate the resurrection,” Obama said.

“We all have experiences that shake our faith,” Obama said later. “There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us, but that’s precisely when we should remember Christ’s own doubts and eventually his own triumph.”

Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' crucifixion, and Easter, which falls this Sunday, marks his resurrection.

The pastors invited to the White House event include Joel Hunter, an evangelical from Florida; Roman Catholic Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who leads the Archdiocese of Washington; and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Easter • Politics

soundoff (588 Responses)
  1. Kit

    Thanks Ann, for commenting and bnirging focus to this key point. Money is often too glorified in society (used as a trophy) and is seen for it's negative and greedy aspects and therefore its tool/usefulness is seen as a necessary evil that we need to weed out eventually.Most people don't understand how money seems to follow other actions and priorities (is therefore a reaction or symptom and not a cause). It seems to have an amplifying effect on the character of the holder it brings out the generousity in the generous, and the greed in the greedy.Thanks again for joining in the discussion!

    September 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  2. The Obama Christian Church Worldwide Campaign

    This is the reason why we worship and praise our good christian president Obama and that Obama will be Lord of the world on October 21st of this year. We need to use Obama to restore the traditional dictates of our good Word Of God or the Bible. The Obama Administration will help us christians restore the good morals of christianity which is good. We need to learn the gospels of Obama and Christ to restore the good morals of the world.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  3. Trancend

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ will result in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Currently.... your constructing your own path that suits your sin lifestyle.

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fate or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Relise your a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent....

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth.

    Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Down is up. Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

    April 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  4. Nii

    PRIMEWONK
    Believing there was is like believing in evolution. It may not be true but it explains a lot. I don't mind both even though I understand both as a scientist and minister. Most humans go to extremities when arguing, I don't. I know u can kill me but I choose to think u love me as urself.

    April 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Reality

    Dear Mr. Obama,

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    April 7, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things*

    April 7, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Jesus

      *~Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!"~*

      April 7, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    For the better
    Proven

    April 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Jesus

      No you are a proven liar. ~Prayer doesn’t not change crap. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!"~*

      April 7, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  8. Jesus is Lord

    Praise God

    April 6, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Primewonk

      Clapton is God

      April 6, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Troy Lindgram

      Did he say "a"son of God? If he did that says it all.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  9. Nii

    Adam was filled with de Holy Spirit unlike de animals who were just formed from clay. He was a living soul like Christ who was flesh n Holy Spirit. Like Adam He was an individual. Hence de name Son of Man and Son of God 4 both. He showed what Adam had b4 de Fall by fighting what de Fall made him.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Primewonk

      There was no Adam. There was no Eve. There was no Garden of Eden.

      If all humans came from 1 breeding pair, the lack of genetic diversity would have caised our extinction after just a few generations.

      Sorry.

      April 6, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Jack

      Nii: People might take you more seriously if you took the time and effort to spell out words like "the".

      April 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  10. Nii

    As I have said earlier an atheist is on the verge of developing spiritual theism. When u leave ritual n dogma, u have two choices
    A. CHARITABLE LOVE(spirituality)
    B. APOSTASY
    Obama and I chose spirituality plus Christianity/religion. Some leave religion. The Bible begins to make sense either ways.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  11. AGuest9

    It's OK, Mr. President. Your secret (that you are atheist) is safe with us.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • just sayin

      Obama has cleverly hidden his beliefs by testifying openly of his Christian faith and attending church on a regular basis with his family. God bless

      April 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Nii

      My mom(RIP) practised a faith similar to Mr Obama's. She was very regular in Church and held various high positions in church. If that is Atheism why are u not in church tonight AGUEST.

      April 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Primewonk

      That is true just sayin.

      But sadly, 52% of republicans in Mississippi, 45% of republicans in Alabama, and 39% of republicans in Illinois still think Obama is a Muslim.

      Is it any wonder that those of us with at least 10 functioning neurons hold these îdiots in such contempt?

      April 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I like how you point that out, just sayin. So did I for many years.

      April 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Nii, I've never held an office high enough for it to matter to people.

      April 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things
    Proven

    April 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jesus

      You're a proven liar. Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!""

      April 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      Powerful

      April 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Jesus

      More lies on top of more lies demonstrating you can't follow your own rule book. What a hypocrite.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      So does spam apparently.

      April 22, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  13. Reality

    Dear Mr. Obama,

    Your education continues- your eyes only:

    Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    April 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!""

      April 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Don't feed the trolls

      Stop feeding the trolls Jesus.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • BRC

      Supposedly Jesus sustains all peoples, so I don't think he can contain himself.

      April 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    Gospel of John 3: 1-6:

    1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    "Born of water and Spirit; flesh is flesh and Spirit is Spirit" Jesus said.

    This is, what Obama has probably not yet understood. Obama has probably not yet understood the meaning of sacramental baptism.

    Born of water and Spirit means to get sacramentally baptized. Only condition for such a baptism is the awareness of the own sinfulness and a longing to get forgiveness and deliverance by Jesus Christ.

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered the Son for our sins and raised him again for our justification.

    You, dear reader, can regard that as true. But if you want to become a believer in the narrower sense, you have to get baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. At baptism your old man of sin dies and you "enter" Christ. In Christ you can live a holy life, despite your sinful body. Christ is greater than your sinful body.

    If you have yet received infant baptism, just refer to it and don't get rebaptized. Infant baptism is valid.

    Without baptism flesh remains flesh. After baptism Spirit is Spirit, that means only a baptized person can live a spiritual life. A person, which is not baptized, is condemned to sin and remains flesh.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      "This is, what Obama has probably not yet understood. Obama has probably not yet understood the meaning of sacramental baptism."

      Who are you to tell anybody what they do or do not understand? But if you are going to make such a statement at least give a reason WHY you think he doesn't understand.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @lunchbreaker

      If Obama would be born of water and Spirit, the Spirit would help him to interprete the Bible correctly.

      Flesh cannot interprete the Bible, but only the Spirit.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE NEWBIES:

      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      April 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      I'm glad to know we have the foremost authority on the correct interpretation of the Bible on the case.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Nii

      RAINER.
      Do u not understand from Rom2 that when we obey God and love our neighbor then we subscribe to the sacraments? otherwise baptism is a bath, circu.mcision is a surgical operation, confirmation is a drama production, etc. Leave OBAMA alone for He is right. If u love Man, God loves u too.

      April 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Nii

      As I said earlier an atheist is someone on the verge of developing spiritual theism. if u become frustrated with dogma n ritual u have two choices. CHARITABLE LOVE(SPIRITUALITY)
      APOSTASY
      Obama like me we chose Spirituality within Christianity. Some stay out. The Bible begins to makes sense this way.

      April 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  16. Robert Brown

    Jesus Christ during the time of His earthly ministry, set up a spiritual kingdom on earth, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy; He being the King and all born again believers the subjects of the Kingdom, and they are now reigning with Him as Kings and priests on the earth. Dan. 2:44; Isa. 9:6, 7; Matt. 3:2; Luke 17:20, 21; John 18:36; Rev. 1:5-7.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  17. Keith

    “I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”
    -Obama in a Chicago Sun Times interview.
    No Christian would say such a thing.
    A real Christian would say: Jhn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    And: Jhn 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

    April 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • sam

      LOL Hey, look, everybody! Keith is an authority on what a One True Christian would say or not say.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Or maybe a real Christian would say Acts 10:34-35" Then Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."

      April 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Keith

      Jhn 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
      sam and Doc, what part of this don't you understand?

      April 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Nii

      KEITH
      Doc is very right n u r clearly wrong. A true Christian knows that God considers our godly actions as belief rather than our religious professions. And since we r quoting.
      "Not all who call me Lord Lord shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven but those who do the will of God".
      U KNOW WHERE IT IS!

      April 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Keith

      Nii, Universalism is wrong. Salvation by works is wrong. If anyone says there are many ways to heaven-they are just plain wrong.

      April 6, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    “We all have experiences that shake our faith,” Obama said later. “There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us, but that’s precisely when we should remember Christ’s own doubts and eventually his own triumph.”

    Obama said.

    I think here Obama misinterprets the behaviour of Christ in the Garden Gethsemane. Christ, of course, had never any doubts concerning God's plan relative to him. The man Jesus was completely integrated in the eternal Christ and hence could always understand the ways of God.

    It is only that in the Garden Gethsemane Jesus faced a horrifying situation. It was the eve of the crucifixion. By asking God, the Father, for reprieve, he did not reveal any doubts, but revealed that he was a real human being, which could suffer, but did not seek sufferings on every condition. By the way, even no Christian seeks sufferings, but merely endures them for God's sake. If someone seeks suffering, he is ill and works against the human reason. Jesus had a human will and a divine will. His human will wanted avoid suffering, his divine will knew that the death was necessary for the sake of the health of the mankind.

    Jesus human nature was a new creation. Jesus was no relative of Adam, but a new spiritual Adam. Adam meant abandoning God, Jesus meant remaining with God at any rate. Through Adam the mankind had perished and through Jesus a new mankind has begun. Jesus is the firstborn of a new mankind in God.

    This special man Jesus always obeyed God voluntarily (!), he was, of course, no human robot, who could not decide about his actions. It is not fully to grasp by reason, but Jesus was a man, who found it always appropriate to remain with God under all circu-mstances. Jesus was ever in God, is in God, and will ever be in God. That is the special attribute of his person. Jesus means obeying God, that is Jesus. Nevertheless Jesus had a free will and could have been disobedient, but thank God, he was not disobedient.

    In the Garden Gethsemane Jesus sweat blood and was about to die, because of his anguish. He humbly prayed three times, if the Father could spare him the cup of sorrow. After a while he accepted the will of his divine nature and the will of the Father, that means altogether the will of the eternal Godhead, that he had to die.

    What Jesus managed in the Garden Gethsemane was the greatest, which a man ever performed, beside enduring the crucifixion.

    The man Jesus has saved the universe.

    In other words: Jesus has defeated the powers and forces of darkness (death, hell and destruction).

    Jesus is the death of death and the hell's destruction.

    By the resurrection God confirmed Jesus Christ's divine sonship and publically declared his rule over the universe, after a execution, which was not legitimate and not authorized by God. The mankind and the demons gave Jesus a cross, but God gave him the throne of the universe. That is great.

    April 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Mike

      Great points!

      April 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nii

      Rainer the man Christ was perfect like Adam in that just as Adam had Eve in him, Christ had Mary in Him. However he was corruptible like Adam and had to have faith, swerve temptations and overcome doubts. If he hd not done this He wud not prove His perfect divinity but fall like Adam.

      April 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.