Yet again I’m failing to stick to my blogging break, but having posted David Cameron’s Easter Speech yesterday, I thought it would be good for comparative purposes to post the transcript of Barack Obama’s Easter speech he gave today at the White House Easter prayer breakfast for church leaders.
If having read David Cameron’s speech you’re left wondering which bits of the Easter story he actually believes, you’ll have no such doubts with President Obama’s blatantly Christian message. It seems somewhat ironic that Obama has been accused of not being Christian enough by some Americans when we have a poll in the Guardian where 67% of respondents so far have said that it is not OK for prime ministers to ‘do God’ in public following on from Cameron’s speech which was much less overt. (Update: the poll ended two days later with 58% in favour of prime ministers ‘doing God’, so thank you if you voted ‘Yes’!)
I am not a fan of American politics, but at least their politicians can be open and honest about their beliefs without having to dress them up in inclusive language and water them down in order not to offend.
For a more thorough analysis and comparison of the two speeches, I recommend you read Peter Kirk’s latest article at Gentle Wisdom, ‘Cameron and Obama on the Resurrection’.
Transcript of President Obama’s Remarks at the Easter Prayer Breakfast, April 4, 2012
THE PRESIDENT: It is wonderful to see so many good friends here today. To all the faith leaders from all across the country — from churches and congregations large and small; from different denominations and different backgrounds — thank you for coming to our third annual Easter prayer breakfast. And I’m grateful that you’re here.
I’m even more grateful for the work that you do every day of the year — the compassion and the kindness that so many of you express through your various ministries. I know that some of you have joined with our Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. I’ve seen firsthand some of the outstanding work that you are doing in your respective communities, and it’s an incredible expression of your faith. And I know that all of us who have an opportunity to work with you draw inspiration from the work that you do.
Finally, I want to just express appreciation for your prayers. Every time I travel around the country, somebody is going around saying, we’re praying for you. (Laughter.) We got a prayer circle going. Don’t worry, keep the faith. We’re praying. (Laughter.) Michelle gets the same stuff. And that means a lot to us. It especially means a lot to us when we hear from folks who we know probably didn’t vote for me — (laughter) — and yet, expressing extraordinary sincerity about their prayers. And it’s a reminder not only of what binds us together as a nation, but also what binds us together as children of God.
Now, I have to be careful, I am not going to stand up here and give a sermon. It’s always a bad idea to give a sermon in front of professionals. (Laughter.) But in a few short days, all of us will experience the wonder of Easter morning. And we will know, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Christ Jesus…and Him crucified.”
It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the triumph of the resurrection, and to give thanks for the all-important gift of grace. And for me, and I’m sure for some of you, it’s also a chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day, and all that Christ endured — not just as a Son of God, but as a human being.
For like us, Jesus knew doubt. Like us, Jesus knew fear. In the garden of Gethsemane, with attackers closing in around him, Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He fell to his knees, pleading with His Father, saying, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” And yet, in the end, He confronted His fear with words of humble surrender, saying, “If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
So it is only because Jesus conquered His own anguish, conquered His fear, that we’re able to celebrate the resurrection. It’s only because He endured unimaginable pain that wracked His body and bore the sins of the world that He burdened — that burdened His soul that we are able to proclaim, “He is Risen!”
So the struggle to fathom that unfathomable sacrifice makes Easter all the more meaningful to all of us. It helps us to provide an eternal perspective to whatever temporal challenges we face. It puts in perspective our small problems relative to the big problems He was dealing with. And it gives us courage and it gives us hope.
We all have experiences that shake our faith. There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us — (laughter) — but that’s precisely when we should remember Christ’s own doubts and eventually his own triumph. Jesus told us as much in the book of John, when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” I heard an amen. (Laughter.) Let me repeat. “In this world, you will have trouble.”
THE PRESIDENT: “But take heart!” (Laughter.) “I have overcome the world.” (Applause.) We are here today to celebrate that glorious overcoming, the sacrifice of a risen savior who died so that we might live. And I hope that our time together this morning will strengthen us individually, as believers, and as a nation.
Thanks to Sojourners for the transcript.