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The Administration Does Holy Week

The Administration Does Holy Week

Religion and politics have in many ways become intrinsically entwined in America these days, from conservative candidates trying to win the praise of the evangelical right to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops making policy pushes on health care and birth control issues. 

From Passover to Easter, this is one of the largest weeks of Judeo-Christian celebration in the nation, and the administration, too, is staying highly involved, taking advantage of the timing to extend outreach to religious communities beyond just the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

The White House began with a Passover Seder on Monday, inviting family and staff to come together for a semi-traditional Jewish meal.  The New York Times reports:

According to the White House, the Seder was not strictly kosher, but could be considered kosher-style. Most of the food was prepared in the kitchen there from family recipes provided by the president’s staff. The menu included chicken soup with matzoh balls, braised beef brisket, potato kugel, carrot soufflé and matzoh chocolate cake.

And just as in the first year, for its prayers and readings the group used a Maxwell House Haggadah, the booklet retelling the Exodus story that the coffee-maker has provided for nearly 80 years.

Today, the President held his annual Easter breakfast, inviting over 100 leaders of the Christian faith to attend for a morning of prayers and hymns.  According to Politico:

President Barack Obama Tuesday morning continues a Holy Week tradition that has helped him develop relationships with some of America’s most high-profile Christian leaders — an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House.

More than 100 Christian leaders of different denominations and political persuasions are expected, according to a White House official.

The aim, said the official, is simply to “honor the Resurrection.”

But the gathering, the first of which took place last Easter, also allows a president whose faith is at times questioned the opportunity to worship with an array of bold-faced names in the Christian community.

Among Tuesday’s attendees: Texas-based evangelist T.D. Jakes, National Association of Evangelicals president and Tim Pawlenty’s pastor Leith Anderson, Presbyterian pastor and author Tim Keller, Disciples of Christ president Sharon Watkins, and Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the Greek Orthodox church in America.

At today’s breakfast, the President remarked that it was the struggles of Jesus that helps him keep political squabbles “in perspective.”

Hosting an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House for the second straight year, Obama said his own plate’s been full lately, and critical national debates are raging. But when it comes to understanding what’s truly important, “Nothing beats Scripture and the reminder of the Eternal.”

Although the president will be traveling to promote his 2012 budget plan and discuss the economy, he will be back at the White House in plenty of time for Monday’s annual Easter Egg Roll, a tradition now over 130 years old.


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Photo by Stephen B Calvert Clariosophic (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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10:49PM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

Ahreon El - The notion that if a government official, the President for instance, states she/he believes that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God, how is that establishing the Christian religioin as an official religion? Establishing a certin religion, as the US Bill of Rights means that term, would involve the House of Reprentatvie's and the Senate's passing a law and the President's signing it into law, declaring that one particular demonitatiion, like United Presbyterian, for example, will be the official religion of the United States, and voting money to fund it. Anyting other than that is simply a statement of a person's faith and has no power to establish that belief as a law of the land.

9:56PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

It is laughable when politicians play righteous. After all the lying, manipulation, deceptions, and kicking of common people to fill their masters coffers, the thought that god would consider these types worthy is distressing at the least.

1:21PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

It was a good thing.

1:10AM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

Whether a Government Official is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, even Atheist,... he/she still has the fundamental right of religious freedom...

11:53PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

honoring what resurection? It is not proper for a government official to talk about a Cristion belief as fact. That would be establishing the religion.

6:27PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

This is an American tradition which the president chooses to celebrate - where is the politics in that?

5:37PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Religion can be good for politicians, definitely not good for politics.

2:45PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

". . .no law respecting an establishment of religion" refers to the very easily understood (in 1787) definition of "establishment" as the appropriation of revenue funds (generated from "hard-earned tax dollars") explicitly for the financial support of a particular version of a faith. In 1787 the Roman Catholic Church in France received tax-supported payments from the Crown; the Church of England was funded by various kinds of taxation on owners of property; the Lutheran Church had been receiving support from civil government in a great many kingdoms and principalities in Germany and Scandinavia since the Thirty Years' War had settled the idea that "one king one church" should be the rule;
in Scotland the Presbyterian Kirk was allowed to retain its tax-supported status alongside the Anglican bunch. Tax-supported.

A true "original-intent" conservative would have any number of hissy-fits at the idea of using his "hard-earned tax dollars" to pay the wage of ANY kind of preacher, or to pay for constructing a building of ANY kind to further the purposes of ANY church.

Oh, for the good old days when the churches had to pay for their own (outsourced, notice) time on the Mexican high-wattage radio stations in Monterey and Ciudad Acuna
from the cards and letters with love offerings that kept flowing in to Paul Kallinger in Del Rio.

1:16PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

religions SHOULD be out of politics!

12:20PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

What the repubathugs forget is liberals have been going to chruch and lovin Jesus just as long as they have. And other religions too.
Oh, and don't forget the atheists!

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