Unprecedented coverage of the religious views of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and more recently Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has shifted today to focus on possibly the world’s greatest religious enigma, US President Barak Obama.
President Obama hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast yesterday (April 6) with 90 guests including leaders from most major denominations, the National Council of Churches, leaders of small and large churches and well-known Christian identities such as Bill Hybels and Joel and Victoria Osteen.
In America, where the appearance of Christian faith is almost obligatory for politicians, President Obama has been somewhat reticent to be seen as too firmly placed in that ‘corner’ and has not joined a church since moving to Washington.
As he welcomed people to the breakfast, he noted that the White House had also held a Seder to mark the Jewish Passover and an Iftar with Muslim Americans during Ramadan.
However, in his eight minute speech at the breakfast, President Obama clearly identified himself as a Christian, ‘Today, I’m particularly blessed to welcome you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for this Easter breakfast.’
Later, reflecting on what Easter meant to him, Obama said, ‘…as Christians, we believe the redemption can be delivered – by faith in Jesus Christ… And the possibility that redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character, make whole the incompleteness of a soul. Redemption makes life, however fleeting here on Earth, resound with eternal hope.’
Recalling the words of the prophet Micah – championed by Micah Challenge,the social justice arm of evangelical Christians – Obama encouraged those present to commit their spirit ‘to the pursuit of a life that is true, to act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord.’