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.
Mr. Metaxas, thanks for encouraging us to be civil. I do think it would've been good to acknowledge the ugliness on both sides of the campaign, but the point about treating others with respect is well-taken. Unfortunately, most of the commenters are too busy insulting your personal views to see the point of your article. As you said, oh the irony.
The irony of all these negative comments is almost comical at this point. Very good points and great observations by Eric Metaxas – one of the best 21st Century writers and one who shows respect to all people. We should follow his example and keep your negative comments at least civil – "our children are watching and listening".
... sehr gut beobachtet!!!
This is sad! Looks to me like the comments prove the point EM was making.
If you STILL support the GOP, and STILL believe in religion, you should probably not comment on here. You are making your party look really bad, and if you count the number of comments deriding this INSANE article, the numbers are running very much against it. This is because people who support (what used to be) the GOP are disgusted with the religious hypocrisy of the article, and moderate religious christians are disgusted with the cold-blooded hypocrisy (and racism) of the GOP.
If you still "believe" that there is no God. Prove it. If you still "believe" in the liberal premise of taking other peoples money and giving it to others............ Let me know just how you "spin" the history of the USSR and China and Cuba, etc. etc. If you still "believe" that Democrats have all the answers........ then I will show you a Democrat controlled Senate and President that has run up the National Debt to well over 16 Trillion..... and IT. WILL. BE. OVER. 20 Trillion when the current popular President finishes his term. HEY! You get what you ask for sometimes....... and now you are giving it to others.
Notice there is no name calling here. No: if you are a lib or Dem you must be "insane". No. That is not what I or others I know do. It is, in fact, what you do. Right out of Saul Alinskys playbook.
So if a majority tells me it's right then I should do it? The thing about America AND the Internet is that you can be the only person with your opinion and still make the most sense. Also I can't wrap my head around how this article is religious hypocrisy. Please respond on how this contradicts itself in any way.
Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley folk below
On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath a stone
And the valley people swore
They'd have it for their very own
Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of Heaven
You can justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after who...
One tin soldier rides away
So, the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill
Asking for the buried treasure,
Tons of gold for which they'd kill
Came an answer from the kingdom,
"With our brothers, we will share
All the secrets of our mountain,
All the riches buried there"
Now, the valley cried with anger,
"Mount your horses, draw your sword!"
And they killed the mountain people
So, they won their just reward
Now, they stood beside the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turn the stone and looks beneath it...
"Peace on Earth" was all it said
Only for the new members of this blog:
Putting the kibosh/”google” on Mr. Metaxas and also all religions in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.
• As far as one knows or can tell, there was 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/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.
Added details available upon written request.
A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.
"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
See added details on p. 31.
During the campaign I got outlandishly false "forwards" demonizing Obama daily–DAILY; none demonizing Romney. NONE. What is this guy talking about?
Hey John, thats funny. I saw, and received daily e-mails, tweets, fb rants, aas well as the Major News outlets: NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC...... all ranting and raving about Romney. (The fact: I also saw the rants and raves about Obama). So are you deliberately planting a false grail?
What a sactimonious silly article.
You took the words right out of my mouth.
Obviously, he was NOT listening to the Republican candidate during the campaign. Talk about sauce for the goose . . . !
A loss achieved in an ugly way is something the Christian right seems willing to overlook. If ever I've seen ugly in a political campaign it came from Romney and Ryan with their vows to never tax the rich and their promise to take even more away from the elderly, the needy and the millions of Americans still working for starvation wages.
@ Bob Wow you really need to take those blinders off of your eyes!
I agree with Bob's comment. The remarks of Mr. Metaxis would have more credibility if he had made at least a tacit admission that the faults he talks about could be found in both parties during the recent election. He makes it sound as if the president is the only one at fault.
Rhondajo, I'd be interested in hearing what "blinders" you're talkng about
The state owes nobody a livelihood.
Of course, in the interests of equanimity you would have continued to describe the Republican Party as sinking to gutter politics and just plain lies & how disappointed you were with them?
And so, Mr. Metaxas, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"!
And the congregation says "AMEN!"
Here is a parable: John has to buy a new truck for his company, because the old one's gas guzzling is ruining him. He goes to his dealer, Barack, who gives him a contract with a price, but no model description in it and says: last time You got to pick, so it is only fair that this time I pick after You sign.
Just more insane Repub blather. Man, is this party flushing itself right down the toilet...
Blah blah blah, religious nutter says what....?
If you don't like being accused of waging a war on women, STOP IT.
Why? He'll just be accused of racism instead.
so, do they just block posts at random in this forum? Doesn't really encourage me to bother trying to be thoughful .... Is it brevity they are looking for?
Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
ho-oters…as in sho-oters
ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
p-orn… as in p-ornography
pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).
There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
There is an automatic filter that blocks certain letter combinations that might be considered offensive. You simply have to add spaces or characters to break up those combinations. For instance:
There's a big list of offensive words that gets posted now and then, but at least this is a place to start.
Whoops! Beat me to it.
This makes so much sense to me. So many different times my posts were blocked and I had no clue why. Thank you!
You're a fool of the highest degree. It's people like you that are running this country straight into the ground.
You brag about how you idolize all these men that stood for social justice, but you yourself don't even support marriage equality, which should be a basic human right. Then, you turn around and criticize the left for playing hardball in elections. Well, sir, we have to play hardball, or else narrow-minded imbeciles such as yourself will regain control of the nation.
And, as long as you want to talk about 'playing dirty,' why not mention those republican governors who tried suppressing the vote so that less ballots would be cast for Obama? I could go on and on about your hypocrisy, but it would be a waste of my time. People like you will never see the truth because your faith blinds you from the bigger picture.
I wish you nothing but the worst.
Why would he support gay rights? It's not a basic human right to sin blatantly. You are young and well fed on the lies of the left. Just because Metaxas doesn't agree with your views doesn't make him a hypocrite.
Why is it sinful to be gay?
Montrose, scientific studies have shown that hom.os.exuality is innate. Orientation is not a choice. On the other hand, there is no evidence to support the existence of any god. Therefore religion is more unnatural than hom.os.exuality.
I'm sorry that you are offended (and possibly frightened) by people who are different than you, but seriously, if two consenting adults fall in love and want to be married, how exactly does it harm you if they are the same gender?
Montrose, Though you choose to believe otherwise, in this country there is a separation of church and state. It is not your right to legislate your religious beliefs to me.
When Monty finishes with that, we'd still like to know what "secular religion" is. I seem to know of a couple of other posters who dream up crap like that and just move on, kind of like someone who doesn't clean up after their dog.
i'm not legislating anything just asserting my opinion because atheism or any-ism is just as potent a belief system affecting our legislative process as Christianity.
Please explain that to us, Monty.
Explain how atheism affects our legislative process. We're waiting.
it is a guiding belief system or worldview which carefully de-gods society and begins to see man not as created beings but as units of the state, or as Hitler applied Darwinian evolution to social progress – a rational extermination of problem people.
Now Monty – if a government is secular, is it atheist? Again, what is a "secular religion" you mentioned earlier?
The Bible said that God torturously killed EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth.
What was your point?
there is no void. there is no vacuum. even the vacuum is full even if it is nothing.
How does atheism "degod" society? Atheism is not an organized movement. We atheists just "degod" ourselves. You're free to believe in whatever silly mythology you want. Just don't push it on others. Is that concept a little too deep for you, Monty?
secular government is not atheistic.
what principles will you use to govern? if none, then you have answered my question. if sartre, then sartre. if rawls, then rawls. there is no void.
If you need a 2,000-year-old book to tell you that murdering everyone is wrong, you aren't too bright. Atheists can figure out a "moral" society without having to be forced into anything by bribes (heaven) or threats (hell).
Monty: "secular government is not atheistic."
So earlier, when you said "OR will you impose your secular religion on others?"
what did you mean?????
Observer – our time is over. I thought you were beginning to think.
kind of like 1984. kind of like Ayn Rand. Kind of like Staliinism.
Stumped? Too bad you have to run away.
Secularity (adjective form secular, from Latin saecularis meaning "worldly" or "temporal") is the state of being separate from religion
exactly and thus it replaces religious impulse.
Your position shifts like sand under your feet. Perhaps it's because you are being challenged from several different positions at once. Let me clear about mine. There is a concerted effort by many religious groups in the fight to oppose gay marriage. When legal arguments and reason are imposed, opposition to gay marriage always boils down to intolerance based on religion. I don't accept that, and soon it is going to change.
To me that expression "secular religion" is meaningless. "Separate from religion" indicates "away from"; or "an absence of religion within"; there is no replacement. Now if you were more specific, as in "your belief that there is not god of Israel" – that says something useful that is clear to all parties as to what you mean.
typo correction: no god
I like how all your replies have nothing to do with your post...granted I will use this to segway back to one of your points. True the right side is corrupt and has its hypocrites sadly what side doesn't in the confusing time when many people purposefully say what they don't mean. But no matter what side you are you have to look at the context of Mr. Metaxas point. He is simply addressing his experience with the president and his view of the president's religious faith and current actions. The blog has a specific focus which is why he is not talking about the right side (Romney) or even the rest of the left. So just thought I would honor you with considering your thoughts and offer you this. Take it or leave it.
We can't get annoyed at Montrose or Monty as he is being called now, lol, he is being assaulted by many different statements, questions and arguments from multiple people. I tip my hat to him for just keeping up with everyone granted. I love the one on one face to face conversations. All the people going off on him is making this introvert worn out. lol
You are missing the forest for the trees. Mr. Metaxas pretends to take the high road because, he says, that is what his religion tells him to do. Then he throws in comments here and there to make sure you know what his beliefs are; he's just too "above the fray" to be the one slinging the mud. He is a classic hypocrite.
BTW, in case you didn't notice, Montrose didn't keep up. He left over an hour ago.
What makes him a hypocrite? You can't make a point like that without proof.
Heavy handed moderation in this forum....?
None at all, actually. The only thing is a naughty-word filter that won't allow a post with "Consti.tution" or "circu.mstance" because there is a ti.t or cu.m in them.
Find the naughty bit, do what I did.
Dippy is being cutesy-pie: you can use html coding to say fuck without tricks like adding a period. But that's the advanced course, and you are a beginner.
My best guess is that the Belief Blog wasn't getting enough clicks lately, so the staff put the shallowest, dumbest, most self-impressede Christian they could find and let him talk egotistically about his narrow-minded, hypocritical, idiotic beliefs.
And presto zippo, over 2,000 responses, the management is happy so the staff is happy.
47% of Americans who received some help from the government were demonized as leeches and moochers. Many of them, including seniors and veterans, still voted Republican. Repent, Mr. Romney.
it is easy to accept what you believe even if it,s wrong.
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.