President offers prayers, thoughts to tornado victims
The President held an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House Tuesday
April 19th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

President offers prayers, thoughts to tornado victims

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama offered his thoughts and prayers Tuesday to victims of weekend storms that spawned dozens of tornadoes that cut a swath through the South, killing more than 40 people.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have been affected down there," the president said during an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House.

The twisters hit 12 states in the South, cutting a path of destruction from Oklahoma to Maryland between Thursday and Saturday. At least 45 people were killed, including 22 from hard-hit North Carolina.

Politics were not on the menu during the prayer breakfast. It was the second year the president has held such an Easter prayer event.

The president used the breakfast to call for prayer and reflection to mark the start of the Easter season. He was joined by about 130 clergy and faith leaders from a wide range of backgrounds including Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox clergy.

He said Easter served as a reminder that during "these national critical debates" that "we must always make sure we are keeping things in perspective."

"I pray that our time here this morning will strengthen us both individually as believers and as Americans," the president said.

Among the clergy in attendance were Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter's House in Dallas, Texas; Joel Hunter pastor of Northland Church outside of Orlando, Florida; and Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

For Keller, a prominent Presbyterian pastor and author, it was his first trip to the Obama White House, his office said.

"It's a time of great togetherness where we can focus on the one person we have in common," Hunter told CNN before the breakfast. "That's Jesus Christ, not the president," he clarified with a chuckle.

Hunter said he always enjoys getting together with other Christian leaders and wanted to be supportive of the president's event.

Hunter said he is still sending a weekly devotion via email to the president through Joshua DuBois, the head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

"We're going through the sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke." Hunter said. "I call it reading the red," he said referring to the red text which some biblical translations mark the words of Jesus.

Hunter said politics were not a topic he and the president have discussed often during their time together.

"My role with him is as a pastor," he said. While some policy issues arise like care for the poor, he said, "we don't discuss politics or policy per se. My role is to help him get closer to God."

The Easter prayer event was held Tuesday so pastors can return to their home parishes and churches to conduct their own Holy Week celebrations.

The president has struggled to convince some segments of the American public he is a Christian. He has repeatedly affirmed his faith and speaks of it often in public.

A survey by the Pew Forum found nearly one in five Americans believe the president is a Muslim while just 34% correctly identified him as a Christian.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • DC • Food • Leaders • Pastors • Politics • Protestant • United States

soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    We all pray to God the creator (Allah)...

    [11:7] He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days – and His (earthly) domain was completely covered with water – in order to test you, to distinguish those among you who work righteousness. Yet, when you say, "You will be resurrected after death," those who disbelieve would say, "This is clearly witchcraft."
    [13:5] If you ever wonder, the real wonder is their saying: "After we turn into dust, do we get recreated anew?" These are the ones who have disbelieved in their Lord. These are the ones who have incurred shackles around their necks. These are the ones who have incurred Hell, wherein they abide forever.
    [37:12] While you are awed, they mock.

    [37:13] When reminded, they take no heed.

    [37:14] When they see proof, they ridicule it.

    [37:15] They say, "This is obviously magic!

    [37:16] "After we die and become dust and bones, do we get resurrected?

    [37:17] "Even our ancient ancestors?"

    [37:18] Say, "Yes, you will be forcibly summoned."

    [37:19] All it takes is one nudge, whereupon they (stand up) looking.

    [37:20] They will say, "Woe to us; this is the Day of Judgment."

    [37:21] This is the day of decision that you used to disbelieve in.
    The Dwellers of Heaven Visit the Dwellers of Hell

    [37:50] They will come to each other, and confer with one another.

    [37:51] One of them will say, "I used to have a friend.

    [37:52] "He used to mock: `Do you believe all this?

    [37:53] " `After we die and turn into dust and bones, do we get called to account?' 

    [37:54] He will say, "Just take a look!"

    [37:55] When he looks, he will see his friend in the heart of Hell.

    [37:56] He (will go to him and) say, "By GOD, you almost ruined me.

    [37:57] "If it were not for my Lord's blessing, I would have been with you now.

    [37:58] "(Do you still believe) that we die,

    [37:59] "only the first death, and we never receive any requital?"

    April 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm |

    Who did Obama offer prayers to ... Allah ???

    April 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  3. bronxkid

    Again, Cnn (Candy Crowley) gave Obama a pass on his religion. No, he is not a Muslim (except maybe on his birth certificate) and , yes he is a Christian, but attended a church for twenty years in Chicago that does not believe in mainstream Christianity in the same way that most Americans do. He believes in Black Liberation theology, which was never taught by Jesus Christ. This may be why he hasn't "found" a comfortable church in Washington DC. Way to go CNN! When it comes to Obama, we can only expect half truths from you.

    April 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  4. ken

    obama start making decisions that benefit all american people instead of praying,keep church separate from state other people don't believe in that bible nonsense and there is no evidence pray does any good at all.

    April 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  5. Reality

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices.

    April 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  6. liz from OH

    I read these comments when I have a chance and there is always the Christian-haters hating Christians for our beliefs. I find more and more of you that scoff at us who do believe in Christ and you sound so angry. There ARE Christian fanatics, but not the majority of us. I myself find peace in Christ and not the hatred that so many of you haters "preach". I find it sad that you spend so much time hating those that have done nothing to you. As we celebrate this week I hope you find peace. I will pray for that. And as for Obama being Christian or not I hope he is for that would just be wrong to pretend for a vote. Also there has usually been a Easter celebration at the WH, an Easter egg hunt as well on the lawn. Obama chose to stop that tradition his first year. Back to those haters and everyone else Happy Easter, also I hope the Easter Bunny visits you all. Life should always be full of happy surprizes.

    April 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  7. Keith

    He's just as stupid as Bush was. These storms can be directly related to his administration wanting to strong-arm Israel into giving up its land. And worse yet, making Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state. The more we try to oppose Israel, the more whoop-ass we can expect for us. I know a lot of you atheist sissies don't like to hear that, but it's true.

    April 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Ed

      was that a joke I really hope for sake that was a joke. If it was it was a bad joke. If it wasn't please find a good shrink

      April 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Keith

      Zechariah 12:3 "And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it." Does that sound like a joke to you? Then again, people like you are described in Daniel 12:10, "Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." So far, that's Bush, Obama, and Ed in the 'wicked' column. Did you know that Bush was going to have Colin Powell announce to the UN that the US was going to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state on Sept. 12, 2001? Obviously, that didn't happen. You can expect something equally as bad or worse if that moron in WH tries the same.

      April 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • D-Nice

      Now I understand why you are a birther, you're crazy. Thanks for clearing that up.

      April 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Keith

      If I'm crazy, then that doesn't say much about your discernment. I mean trying to engage someone who's crazy in dialouge....??? We'll see. The US and the Quartet are telling Netanyahou that if he doesn't do something to get the talks restarted, then they may declare a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. If that happens just you watch what happens to the countries involved-it ain't going to be pretty. God gave the land to the Jews. Only an idiot would go against God and try to give it to someone else.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  8. Glenda

    If this is not a bigot I don't know who is. Such a downright phoney he makes me sick. Just to look at him is repulsive.

    April 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  9. paty

    senor president lo felicito,por tener una familia muy feliz y unas ninas muy seguras,piense no solo.en tornados.ni sunami, si no maasss importante,en esos ninos que esperan un dia de easter muy tristes sin el amor de su familia sin regalos merecidos por dios por la sagrada famila aga algo se lo estamos pidiendo con muchas esperansas y muy desgaarradores tristemente happy easter presidente.gracias

    April 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  10. MarkLukeJohn

    For those that don't believe and those that believe, go to youtube username israel5535 and click on, "11 stars 12 stars 7 stars in the bible found." even though the bible has been corrupted, the hosts of heaven r real and what John wrote is authentic. Pics in this video r real snd negatives r available for examination.

    April 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  11. Muneef

    Thoughts and prayers for the families that had suffered from this Tornado what ever their religion,belief or disbelief after all we are all humans "May God grant them patience and strength to overcome their difficulties".Amen.

    April 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  12. Holycost

    American revolution it never happened! just the beattles invasion of the poor people of this planet circa 1897. inalienable rights! how many times do us real humans have to be subjected to this regurgitated propaganda.

    the only right a human has is to crash and burn aka-the earth shall inherit the meek.

    April 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  13. MJ

    Convenient. Suddenly he gets "religion". Couldn't have anything to do with his big reelection campaign??!!

    April 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      you mean like the same breakfast he hosted last year?

      April 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Jim Doyle

      He's been going to church all his life, you moron. Remember during the last election the Repugs and idiots like you were all complaining about some of the things his minister said that you didn't agree with? Now you're complaining that he's not really a Christian. What the hell kind of Christian are you?

      April 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Glenda

      Jim Doyle
      – If you consider Rev. Wright's Church a Church and his first 12 years being a Muslim as Christanity. Then I'm glad the Good Lord decided to let me be in another ethnic group for your's is retarded.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Glenda: – If you consider Rev. Wright's Church a Church and his first 12 years being a Muslim as Christanity. Then I'm glad the Good Lord decided to let me be in another ethnic group for your's is retarded.

      Wow, you sure are filled with hate (not to mention, misinformation)! President Obama was never a Muslim; his father was a non-practicing Muslim and absent from the President' life from an early age and his mother, although raised Christian, did not raise President Obama in a religious household. Last time I checked, religion was not genetic. And don't all you hard-right people embrace Christian converts?

      BTW, President Obama's mom had a Ph.D. in anthropology and while in Indonesia, she created microcredit programs while working as a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development to address the problem of poverty in rural villages.

      Glenda, you could learn something about being a good person from the President and his mom ...

      April 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Dave

      Remember 2008 and the controversy surrounding his former pastor Jeremiah Wright? President Obama is a Christian. He has been a Christian for a long time. Enough said.

      April 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  14. roger

    I tweeted this.


    April 19, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  15. Nonimus

    Pffftt... It's just a promotional stunt by the chocolate-egg-laying rabbit industry.

    April 19, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  16. Fed Up

    Is this another fund-raiser, or does he need to get his religion to the photo op again?

    April 19, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • emmy skadittle

      Its not like every republican president didn't stop fund raising when they were in the white house

      April 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • D-Nice

      Really, I hope you feel the same way about republicans. Several republicans missed their swearing in this year due to fund raisers. So they thought going to a fund raiser was more important than getting swore in. That shows you the mindset of most politicians these days democrat or republican. WAKE UP!

      April 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  17. Holycost

    its should obvious too any common bloke that he is pandering to a popular misbelief and the establishment at large. the harvest of souls is coming soon it will just be a whole hell of alot different than what many think.

    April 19, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  18. Bill, Bloomington Il

    So where is all the liberal outrage over the president conducting a prayer service at the WH?

    April 19, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • swingo

      Hey, I'm a liberal AND a Christian...it is possible to be both! I even attend church every Sunday and taught Sunday School for over 30 years...I'll be praying for you.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      I'm a Liberal and a Christian, too, although I've never been into organized religion (seems like folks too easily make it into a political contest and miss the point). And to those who say you must attend church to be a Christian, I say:

      Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in a garage makes you a car.

      April 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • emmy skadittle

      where are the republicans who claim he is a muslam?

      April 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  19. kathy

    The President HAS to stay in prayer....because.....he has the deal with the "birthers"...Trump...Bachman....Palin...Limbaugh... the KKK..and on yeah...the California Rep who sent out a mass e-mail and called him a "chimp".

    April 19, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Linda

      I agree with you Kathy he must stay in prayer and we have to still keep him lifting up. He is still the man for the job. People need to wake up

      April 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Keith

      America had an IQ test leading up to the 2008 election. It flunked. I can remember having to show my birth certificate to play little league baseball for crying out loud. Sorry, but you flunked the test.

      April 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Keith: President Obama had to show his birth certificate to get his Social Security Number (which he has used every year, including 2010, to file income taxes); to get a passport (which he has had since he was a kid, when he moved from Hawaii to Indonesia); to run for State office in Illinois; to run for US Senate; and when he ran for President in 2008.

      And if this logic doesn't convince you President Obama is a natural-born citizen, then dispute this: The GOP wanted Grumpy McCain and the Quitta from Wasilla to win in 2008. The GOP has millions of dollars and hundreds of lawyers at its disposal. If it could be proven in a court of law that President Obama is not a US citizen, THE GOP WOULD HAVE DONE THAT A LOOOOONG TIME AGO!


      April 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Keith

      Then why has he spent millions trying to hide his records? His own grandmother said he wasn't born here. But I suppose she's just a psyco old lady. The 'certificate of live birth' could easily be obtained by anyone not born in HI. Like I said, it would appear you flunked the test.

      April 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • HOWARD

      Who did Obama offer prayers to ... Mohammed ???

      April 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • D-Nice

      Keith – Try looking at some more credible sources before you make comments that make you look like a fool. Obama spent the money on legal fees, not to hide his records. My God birthers are the bottom of the barrel for conspiracy theorists and that's saying something. How many times does something have to be proven for you to believe it. What a fool!

      April 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Keith

      D nice and think again, You may be perfectly satisfied with the crap the Ministry of Truth is shoveling out. Be good little citizens and swallow. But as for me, I'd like to know why he also has a Connecticut ss #. I HOPE the guy was born here, because if he wasn't, there's going to be an awful lot of explaining to do and no one will have any faith in the major media outlets or government-not that anyone does now -except you, of course.

      April 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Keith

      think again and d nice, One more thing...I don't give two hoots in hell who gets elected and who doesn't. I put my faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ-not some mere man.

      April 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  20. lesley

    Our religion is our own beliefs. This world has gone to crap. The bible has nothing in it about abortions at all.

    April 19, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • mamasita

      "Though shalt not kill"

      April 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Dorianmode

      @ mamasita,
      CNN's English class for Belif Bloggers is at 2 PM, now enrolling new students.
      (pssst....it's Thou).

      April 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Peter F


      Ditto to the first part. (Pssst... it's "Belief")

      April 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
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About this blog

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.