Editor's Note: Eric Metaxas is the author of "No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power Of True Belief In A Time Of Crisis: The National Prayer Breakfast Speech."
By Eric Metaxas, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Imagine that the president of the United States had to sit and listen to you for 30 minutes in a public setting. Imagine that he couldn't escape and had to endure whatever you said. If you disagreed with him politically, would you try to embarrass him? What would you say?
Well, this actually happened to me. A year ago I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, an event attended by the president, first lady, vice president, and 3,500 other dignitaries. No one was more shocked at the invitation than I. Previous speakers include Mother Teresa, Tony Blair and Bono. No pressure.
By the way, I disagree with the president in some important ways. But as a Christian, God commands me to love those with whom I disagree, to treat them with civility and respect, as creatures made in God's image. That's a command, not a request or a suggestion. Again, no pressure.
In my speech I spoke about my heroes, William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Wilberforce's faith led him to fight for the Africans being enslaved by the British; Bonhoeffer's faith led him to fight for the Jews being persecuted by the Nazis. I used them as examples of people who passionately lived out their faith by standing up for their fellow human beings when most around them merely gave it lip service.
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I also joked around a lot, because as any of my friends will tell you, one of the ways I show love is by joking and teasing people. Who said prayer breakfasts had to be boring? At one point I said that George W. Bush had read my Bonhoeffer book, and then I glanced at President Obama and said "No pressure." I'm glad he laughed!
Later in my speech, I talked specifically about the idea of loving our enemies. I said this was the test of real faith. Speaking to my fellow pro-lifers, I said that those of us who believe the unborn to be human beings must love those on the other side of that issue. I also said that those of us with a traditionally biblical view of sexuality are sometimes demonized as bigots, but we must love even those who call us bigots. I cited Wilberforce and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as two men who took seriously God's command to love their enemies in the midst of the most serious political battles of their day. They honored God in how they fought, and he honored them.
At the end of the breakfast the president told me he would read my book on Bonhoeffer, and Vice President Biden took my picture with the president. No kidding. It was an extraordinary day and I'm not telling the half of it.
President Barack Obama holds up a book given to him by author Eric Metaxas
But the reason I'm writing now is that during the past election I was disappointed to see the president's campaign utterly abandoning these ideals of treating your opponents as you yourself would wish to be treated. Good people with principled and profound convictions about when life begins were cynically demonized as "enemies of women." Americans who had worked hard to build businesses, and who had given millions to charity and to the government, were denounced as fat-cats who weren't "paying their fair share" and whose wealth was ill-gotten gain.
These scorched-earth tactics were not presidential, much less Christian, and because the president openly professes a Christian faith, I feel I must speak about this.
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Of course many will dismiss campaign hardball rhetoric as "what works." This is to miss the point. What we say matters deeply, and how we say it matters deeply. All of it has serious long-term consequences. For all of us.
For one thing, our children are watching and listening. We tell them it's less important who wins or loses than how we play the game. Is there no truth to this at all? Do we not see that this behavior erodes faith in the very political process and in democracy itself? Do we not see that by doing this we encourage our opponents to do the same - and worse - the next time around? Shouldn't we care about that?
Any victory won in an ugly way is somehow a tainted victory. In this case, the president has "won" a deeply divided nation, one that he - alas - has had a hand in dividing. Now what?
If he is to succeed in the tremendous challenges that lay ahead, he must repent of these tactics and must make amends with his opponents, if it's not too late. Or else he will face gridlock and more gridlock. He also must show the door to those who cynically encouraged this "winning is the only thing" behavior.
His legacy and America's future depend upon it. Many will be praying for him.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eric Metaxas.
My, what a horrific burden it must be, Mr Metaxas, having a president who won't say and do everything you demand he do, who doesn't agree with everything you think, and who won't cater to your every whim ... merely because you've declared yourself "right" and him "wrong."
I have a suggestion: Try growing up, for once. OK? It'd be a nice change of pace.
And all those "Good people with principled and profound convictions about when life begins were cynically demonized as 'enemies of women' whom you laud for their vaunted positions ... are, in fact, "enemies of women." No matter how "principled" they are (in your eyes), the fact is that they want to enslave women to their reproductive organs and treat them as lesser beings than men. Cloaking this desire behind "princple" and "profound conviction" can't and won't make that any different.
Matthew 7:5. Some Christians spend all their time focused on other people's business (uteri) when they should be taking care of their own.
God loves Democrats. It's true.
CommonVoice: do the research. Google Obama ring, and do the obligatory checks to see that its not a hoax.
It's not our responsibility to prove their point. Slept through the chapter on the burden of proof in Critical Reasoning and Analysis class?
Okay little people, you just aren't getting the message. You are supposed to be good Christians and help the super-rich not pay taxes. That is my message. Do what I tell you.
Oh, there is a mistranslation in the Bible. The correct line is "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for anyone but a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Eric Metaxas is a complete waste of matter. Using religion to justify prejudice is a true sign of evil. I wish christians and other brainwashed, indoctrinated sheep were treated the way gays are.
I agree. Religious zealots make the world worse off. I have as much respect for this zealot as I do for the zealots in Afghanistan.
it's CHRISTIAN BASHING TIME. WHOO HOO!!!
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State." -Thomas Jefferson
So your opinion is frankly Un-American.
James Madison, 4th POTUS and chief architect of the U.S. Constitution and Bill or Rights:
Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.
(from letters to Edward Livingston and Robert Walsh)
Our most recent Constitutional Amendment, number 27, adopted in 1992, which prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives, was first introduced by James Madison in 1789.
Bill of Rights
How sad that after all this time, Obama is still characterized as a Muslim. I have German ancestry. Does that make me a Nazi? Who are you Christians that hate so much. You think because you wear a cross around your necks that you are ordained by God. Obama is a good man and a good president who cares aout 100% not 47%. That mean he cares about you, and how gays are treated and womens right to choose.
During the election process, it was Romney who showed ugliness. I don't know what channel you were watching. He treated the President with disrespect at every turn. In fact, the Republican party overall has demonstrated the most bigoted, racist treatment of our President in ways that resemble the segregated south. Christians need to remember they are not the only players on the playground.
Well put Phyllis. Follow my lead, write the prez, ask him to not attend this sham again, and to help eliminate it altogether.
Mr. Metaxas, you are so blind that you can not see for whom the president is standing. Remember how wall street made billions of dollars at the risk of our economy, remember how corporations profitted, but kept the wages of their workers low. It seems you forgot what caused the housing bubble as well. All of this was caused by greedy, fat-cats, and those who care less about the average person and you have the nerve to make an opinion as a Christian defense for their actions.
Let me tell you one of the many stories you are missing that the president is speaking to; take the workers the company where I once worked, we did not get a raise because they said the company could not afford it. However, the CEO got a multimillion dollar bonus that year for corporate profits being up. This has become the norm in our country and you think these people are okay because they give to charity. You better think again! These are not the people TRUE Christians defend. If that CEO was a true Christian, he would pay his workers a fair wage in comparison to inflation and the type of work they do.
The GOP is the only party that is fit to lead America into the 18th century.
Correction: you meant 18th Cen tury BC,
Democrat thinking would fit medieval ideas more closely given their barbaric ideology.
I believe a balanced view given between the shortcomings of christian Obama versus the shortcomings of christian Romney would have been more worthy of the erudite Mr Metaxas, especially since he purports to have written a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Regardless it also important to note that christians "do not judge or you too will be judged".............
Romney never called himself a Christian.
Funny how people who ostensibly talk about religion are always actually talking politics.
Phonies like Eric Metaxas, author of this article, make me sick.
He's just another conservative, taking yet ANOTHER swipe at our president.
He can try to hide his contempt for Obama all he wants, but Metaxas, after you have stripped away all the SELF RIGHTEOUS bullcrap, is just another narrow minded rightwinger who would limit a woman's right to control her biological destiny and would deny gay people marriage equality. He's not fooling anybody.
I agree. I just wrote the President and asked him not to attend this event anymore, and to try to eliminate it altogether in the future. I think it goes against the 1st amendment, but hey, he's the legal scholar.
So eloquently stated. I am with you one hundred percent!
I am so tired of you intolerant liberals trashing anyone who has a sidewise statement about the President. Why don't you fricking think before you shout your mouths off?
How dare anyone 'demonize" a party who's platform calls for the Federal Government to force r ape victims to bear the children of their r apists!
Democrats, especially President Obama, are supposed to just sit back and let the Republicans and their operatives, lie, distort and insult them over and over again without any negative consequences.
I am glad they are finally fighting back instead of being doormats.
The extreme right wing Republicans (not all of them) paint Obama as some kind of ultra-liberal radical when in reality most Americans see him for what he is, a center-right moderate.
Calling President President a socialist, a Kenyan, not a real American, a Muslim, etc., over and over again doesn't make those statements any more true.
Wow. A conservative on CNN. And a pro-life one at that . Thats encouraging
Right wing nuts.....a woman's body has a way off shutting you down.
It's called voting.
And despite that gender was not close to the strongest predictor of how one would vote in this election (age and income were much stronger).
So let me guess, the Republican party has the monopoloy on who is or isn't Christian?
No wonder those cooks still think he is a Muslim attempting to subvert America.
I think you got it right Caesar.
And they don't call it a lilly white christmas for nothing.
"But the reason I'm writing now is that during the past election I was disappointed to see the president's campaign utterly abandoning these ideals of treating your opponents as you yourself would wish to be treated."
Wait....let me get this right......The president was treated like a junkyard dog for the entire 4 years in office by the republican party and you expect him to stand up and treat the infidels with respect and act like it didnt happen?? Puhleeeease! They worked triple time to make sure he looked as clueless and confused as possible. The very reason Obama is president again is due to karma. This time we are taking no survivors. There is no going back, we will make sure that things are NEVER the same. This guy can take his book and stick it where the sun doesnt shine.
Marcus.....By 2016, all the soldiers could be home, peace could reign, just in time for the GOP to get another war going; got to keep the military industrial complex humming. Bohemian Grove news.
Republicans complaining about 'scorched-earth tactics' in political campaigns! This is funny, because not only do republicans use the same kind of tactics, most of what they say is usually lies. Romney/Ryan probably told more lies in this campaign than have ever been told by a presidential candidate. For instance, one of the biggest lies was that Obama had cut 716 billion from Medicare. Now in fiscal cliff negotiations Ryan is complaining that Obama has not cut anything at all? So which is it? Can the God-fearing Ryan tell us?
Obama has indeed cut $516 billion from Medicare and used the funds for Obamacare. Look at the paperwork. Know that you are forgiven for this blunder.
So Obamacare did not cut cut 500 billion or whatever from medicare? Looks like the dems have been lying to you? The president did not cut that to cut the budget rather to prop up Obamacare...big difference and now the left is claiming republicans want to cut medicare. Well the dems already have and no outrage when they did it.
Boy, khruddy, you sound a mite peeved. Really gripes your azz that Obama won, doesn't it?
No Tom, you will have to suffer as much as i will because of the disaster he has created and the damage he is doing.
Just like Moses said in the Bible during the musical number.
"The Left Lane if for Passing, Not for P*#sies,
Let my Prius GO!"
What truly amazes me is the way Christians are demonized in this day and age. I am a proud Christian. I don't hate the poor, I don't hate women, I don't hate the rich, I don't hate period. I am not a bigot. I am offended to be called such a thing by people, whom apparently can't see the irony of their postings. Either because they ARE so hate filled or weak minded or uneducated. Apparantely, it's ok for everyone to do what they want and believe what they want, except for a Christian.
I often wonder if people who make these kinds of statements truly believe NO God exists or are they just trying make themselves feel a little better for the lifestyles they are living.
I will end with this.... If there is NO God... I WILL NEVER KNOW IT. I will never be embarrassed because of all those people who will say how stupid I was or how weak minded I had been. I will never be upset because I wasted all that time praying, reading the Bible, or attending church. While I lie in the dirt rotting, I will not be wishing I had all that time back. But if there IS a God (and there is), then I promise all of you who don't believe and have ridiculed those of us who have you WILL KNOW IT.
Pascal again, I as*sume you have heard about his gambling problem.
First, opposition to a position, even a theological one, is not hate. Quit trying so hard to feel persecuted.
Second, what if you have the wrong god? Will you feel embarassed then? What if you have the right god but he punishes you anyway because you only "believed" on the off chance that he might exist?
Look up Pascal's Wager and why it is a terrrible position to hold.
Prove there is a GOD.
Go ahead...I double dog dare you.
And won't you be so happy too Sam I am, to see us all non believers cast down into the fiery pit.
I bet you and the other fundies will pack pic nic baskets and watch with glee as we all burn.
Also, why are you Fox watchers so dang persecuted all the time?
You have these perceived "wars" on you constantly.
War on religion, war on xmas, war on white males, war on guns.
It must really suck to go thru life always feeling like someone is out to get you.
Look, we don't care if you waste time on you knees praying to your sky fairy (it does not exist btw), what we have an issue with is you trying to force us on our knees with you.
Get out of our politics, our hospitals, our schools and our bedrooms.
amen Sam, you are so correct!
I am what you dare call being a 'closet Christian'. I will not attend any manmade church for I wholeheartedly believe one's body is God's true church! These manmade churches only give tokens to the poor and poorer and even to the poorest!
Cheesemaker: There is only one God, the question is which prophet.
Shameless- What proof do you want.
The same thing that is happening to the Republic party is happening to christians; their name is being tarnished by their conservative members. Remember, God judges you on how you live your life, not how you force others to live theirs.
Proud Christian are we now? Is it not said that pride cometh before the fall? Seems to me that many churches who give only token welfares to the poorest of poor does very little to keep them in an abundant welfare and out of the poor houses! Did not Christ himself shun his father's house due all the shenanigans being levied within his fathers house? Shunning going to any manmade church is a righteousness that should be done Sam! Leave such manmade churches and stand upon the belief that your body is the true church of God!
Actually Sam, there is a third option, a creator that says "I never knew you, you simply used my word to manipulate the actions of others for your own purposes, not mine." Be wary that you don't become so captivated by your own "solutions" that you begin presenting them as those of the almighty himself. This kind of spirtual pride is a very ugly sin, the Bible commands you to love your neighbor as yourself, it is simply not true that we are offered salvation/forgiveness under any other terms.
Pascal's Wager. It's only been 350 years, haven't y'all come up with something better yet?
Sam, I will defend to my death your right to believe in whatever deity you chose, but do not foist your views on me via government or legislation. Spend on the time praying you chose to pray, but stop with the persecution babble.
Since nobody knows what will happen when they die, anything someone makes up off the top of their heads is just as likely a scenerio as the idea of a Christian Heaven/Hell, etc. Statistically, the exact same probability. So, why stress about it.
@niknak, your response makes a lot of assumptions about someone you do not personally know. I find it funny, how you are probably the first one to stand up for equality and nondiscrimination. However, what you seem to lack the capacity to understand, is everytime you make an assumption about someone who you don't know that believes differently than you, you are just as guilty. Someone stereotyping a Christian to what you perceive about them (note: your perceptions can be and most likely are wrong) is no different then me stereotyping a gay person.
Also, Sam said nothing about Republicans, about conservatism, or about politics. He may or may not be these things, however, not everything in this life is about politics. Christians and I would venture say most of them, hold to pro-life views, for example, not because it is a Republican idea or because it is a conservative idea. It is because it is Bibical. Life was a Bibical (moral) issue, long before it was a political issue. Period.
@ Shameless Self Promotion, Easy. Here's a question for you, if I told you that your vehicle you drive just happened over time of particles coming together, or I told you that your vehicle just appeared out of thin air, or I told you that your vehicle used to be a boat and slowly over time, without any help turned into a car and meant it with every fiber in my being....you say that was nuts and unintelligent. However, you do the same thing with life (which by the way is much more complex than a vehicle). Everything we can feel, touch, see, smell, and hear was created by something. We are more intelligent than a vehicle and thus we made it. There is a God who is more intelligent than us who made us! He loves you too!! It is awesome, if you spend your time thinking about the Creator of the universerse cares about me, instead of thinking about how you can disprove God to feel better about the sin in your life and your selfishness to want to do it your way, instead of God's way.
Prove it. There are thousands of defined gods and many of them are mutually exclusive.
> It is awesome, if you spend your time thinking about the Creator of the universerse cares about me
I can sit around and think about how much Santa Claus loves me, and maybe get all warm and fuzzy inside. But that doesn't make it true.
Explain how your god came into existence since he would have to be more complex than life? If anything that is complex requires a creator that rule should have to apply to your god.
AMEN! And well said SAM!
Blessed are the Cheesemakers
"Explain how your god came into existence since he would have to be more complex than life? If anything that is complex requires a creator that rule should have to apply to your god."
No one knows how God came into existence, and the law does not apply. God is not an effect but a causal agent. You are talking about infinite regress...do we apply that to everything?
In other words, you can fit your god into whatever illogical scenario you wish, with just a hand-wave and a nod.
Who said Obama was a Christian... other than Obama that is? He spent most of his life being a Muslim, and now he's President. What does that tell you?
Metaxas is surely a thoughtul person. While he should stay with his beliefs that he should love his enemies, he should also not be fooled.
.....And this is exactly why your side lost....because when a lie becomes repeated enough, you think it's the truth....
You were obviously fooled brain dead brian, because you bought the whole sky fairy myth hook line and Stinker.
I bet the religious scammers just love you.
But hey, even they need to eat I guess.
Keep believing in the myth, that keeps you on your knees.
Faux News misses you.
As it turns out, Brian, it doesn't really matter whether Obama is Christian, Muslim, or any other religion for that matter. Which set of lies he ended up believing has no bearing on whether or not he can lead our country.
Fault him on his policy if you want, but his beliefs are a side-issue.
You wrote, "He spent most of his life being a Muslim......." .
Where did you get that? Was it from some Republican party office?
He was raised by his Grand-parents for a good part of his life and "they" were Christians.
His father did have an Islamic background but was a declared non-believer. Besides, his ancestry in Kenya is divided between being Christian and Moslem.
None of that matters though........when he "himself" has unconditionally declared himself to be Christian, has a Christian wife and is raising his two daughters as Christian.
Still not convinced? Well, who are you anyway? The President doesn't have to convince you or the likes of you one bit.
More than 65-million people voted him into office a second time with full knowledge of what he is and that is all that matters.
Are you serious???? I know there is a GOD and I know he is not teaching the hate that most of the right is engaging in towards this presiden. Really???? Who are you to judge??
Lets flip that over – who said he is a muslim.
He professes and gives testimony of being a christian, i don't know what other criteria you can judge his religion by. Being Christian does not mean you agree with other christians, it means you agree with Christ, who quite often fall far short of being like Christ.
Note brian and Brian are separate brian's.
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.