President Obama’s Easter statement

I’m posting this here so I’ll be able to find it easily and link back to it later.

This weekend, Michelle and I join our fellow Christians here at home and around the world in marking Good Friday and celebrating Easter. These Holy Days are a time to reflect on the momentous sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for each of us, and to celebrate the triumph of the Resurrection and His gift of grace. It is a time for renewed hope amidst continued challenges. It’s also a time to ponder the common values that unite us — to have compassion for all and to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. As we embrace our loved ones and give thanks for our blessings, we wish all who celebrate with us a blessed Easter.

This is President Obama’s fifth Easter statement. It’s a routine pronouncement of the sort that presidents make on various religious holidays.

But during the Obama administration there’s been a pattern of religious right groups pretending that this president never makes such statements — or that he only makes them in recognition of non-Christian holidays.

These religious-right groups, in other words, lie — they say something they know is not true. Or, at best, they say something they haven’t bothered to very easily find out is not true. Either way — through deliberate malicious intent, or semi-malicious, lazy negligence — they’re bearing false witness.

So in a few weeks, when the Liberty Counsel or the American Family Association or the Family Research Council or Concerned Women for America repeat this same lie that they’ve been repeating for years, claiming that President Obama never made any public statement acknowledging Easter, I’ll be able to link back to this statement and point out that these self-proclaimed religious people are, you know, full of it.

And then a few months later, when Rick Warren hears one of those liars repeat this lie on some Christian radio station and he sends out a tweet because he trusts the lobbyists of the religious-right and is always eager to believe their nastiest accusations, I’ll be able to link back to this again.

Oh, and here’s White House photographer Pete Souza’s picture of the president and first lady hosting a Passover seder on March 25, 2013, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.

I’m a Baptist — a Baptist-type Baptist — who believes that the separation of church and state is absolutely necessary for free people in a free nation or a free church. But I like this photo, and I like gestures like the president’s Easter statement. A secular government in a religiously pluralistic nation must never establish religion and never privilege religion, but it’s possible to acknowledge and to respect the role of religion in the lives of many citizens without either establishing or privileging any particular religion or even religion in general.

In that spirit here’s my idea/request for next year at the White House: Vice President Joe Biden should host a Holi celebration.

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  • John Mark Ockerbloom

    It might also be helpful to link to some of these false statements for future reference as well, for folks who might otherwise take the people making these statements seriously.

    For instance, here’s Andrew Malcolm on Investors Business Daily in December 2012 claiming that “Although Obama has been actively involved in the secular Easter egg roll at the White House, he has also not issued traditional messages marking

    And here’s a post several months earlier in the same forum, quoting Obama’s Easter message for that year. So it’s not like the writer was somehow unaware of it.

  • I get the feeling that even when they hear this kind of thing, they still disregard it. It is like the way the Tribbles see Nicky in Left Behind. They are so absolutely convinced of his evilness that they just know he cannot mean anything nice he says about religion, ever, and saying so only makes them angrier for his “deception”.

    It is like an “I want to be angry at you for not being one of us and trying to be like one of us only makes me angrier for defying my anger!”

  • Katie

    I would like to second Fred’s suggestion about Holi. Holi is a ton of fun, and the water-fight with colored water bit is something that could be adopted as a secular custom, or rolled into Easter celebrations quite easily. In the spirit of good fellowship and eucumenicism, of course, and not at all because seeing Joe Biden dyed in rainbow colors would be hillarious.

  • I’ll admit, I’m tempted to fill dyed eggshells with colored chalk powder and use them in next year’s Ostara ritual. A mash-up of Easter/Ostara eggs, cascarones, and Holi powder seems like a good US melting-pot celebration to me!

  • Wednesday

    Passover’s one of my favorite holidays (despite the fact that I’m an atheist and the historicity of the basic story of Exodus is questionable at best). Stripped of the God-stuff, it’s a holiday about freedom, and how it doesn’t come easily, and it even includes a small reminder that when members of oppressor class get genuinely hurt during that struggle, they’re still people — “we cannot drink from a full cup knowing others suffered that we might be free.”

    The White House Seder has one addition that I really like — a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation as part of the Seder. My family’s tradition includes singing “Go Down Moses”, but it never occurred to me to include more overt reference to our country’s history with slavery.

  • I’m reminded of the time back in high school that I was sort of falsely accused of something and hauled before the vice principal. And he was so used ot dealing with truckulent punk kids that he just assumed that my being polite and apologetic was mocking, so he just kept getting angrier and angrier at me and making grander and grander threats about the cruel fate that awaited me.

    He was very quiet and pale and sort of nervous when he dismissed me back to class later without any punishment.

  • An incident like this is why I never graduated high school and might possibly contribute to why I have such a low opinion of school administrations.

  • Disqus says: Well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about this and I realized something important. Just the other day, I actually fixed something. The unregistered user notices in e-mail subscription notifications? Yeah, those are gone now, and much to my dismay. That completely wasn’t in my plan. So just to make sure people hate me all over again…


    There, now some of our users will take note that they have 100 new messages, all posted months ago, but which I’m going to tell them were made just today. Enjoy!

  • Thank you for the laugh, Fred – I needed that today. I think Biden would probably enjoy it, too! As for the rest of it, right on. This particular tactic is so incredibly frustrating to me, and people like Rick Warren and my father keep falling for it over and over with disturbing ease.

  • Of course, of course. I’m going to laugh to myself whenever I remember that image for days now.

  • Yeah, definitely part of my dad’s mindset, anyway – whenever Obama does make a gesture like this, it’s either dismissed as insincere attempts at pandering or a reason for righteous rage because he’s secretly evil and mocking the whole….I don’t know, my brain sort of breaks when I try to parse the crazy.

  • KevinC

    Speaking of Easter statements, I’m surprised Fred hasn’t blogged on this: Pope Francis upsets Catholic traditionalists by washing girls’ feet:

    Traditionalists: read the Gospels. The whole point of that particular ritual (and a whole lot of everything else Jesus is portrayed saying and doing) is to affront the very attitudes you’re expressing. If that’s “liberal,” then tough. That’s what you get for worshiping a liberal. LOL!

  • Doesn’t Joe Biden also participate in these things? How the hell can Republicans blabber this crap about Obama knowing that the Vice President meets with his boss every day or at least every week and would certainly be present for photo ops like this?

    The Republicans are in effect claiming that Joe Biden doesn’t do these things either, and if anything, I suspect if Biden ever wanted to lay the smackdown and prove once and for all that the jackasses claiming Obama isn’t doing any Easter-related things, the collective heads of the right-wing fringe would explode.

  • Yeah, aside from the whole “May have been a tool for the dictators” thing, Pope Francis is kind of impressive so far. Gives me hope that the Church might get its priorities straight and its house in line some time before the heat-death of the universe.

    If they really work at it.

  • stardreamer42

    Holi would certainly be… memorable, but my vote for recognition of a Hindu festival would be Diwali.

  • Just remember, truth and reality have little in common.

    That’s how Michelle Bachman can tell of the Presidential Perks without doing any research to verify. That’s how Sarah Palin can speak of how Obama didn’t have a background check (birtherism). Truth is things said that make our side look good and, this is actually the more important bit, make their side look bad.
    If there’s anything that was most needed in the Republican Autopsy, it was a discussion of how the blatantly counterfactual made its way into the highest levels of public discourse.

  • I once got expelled for yelling at someone in high school. Hauled into the principal’s office, read my Miranda rights, and hit with a criminal harassment suit. Had to go before a judge in juvenile hall and got the case differed and sealed. Got slapped with a community service sentence which was reduced by the amount of community service I had been doing voluntarily since the incident.

    Columbine High School was big in the news back then. I guess it made school administrators and district attorney office lawyers a little jumpy.

    Anyway, I got shunted off to another school in the district so I would be someone else’s problem, stuck in a program for juvenile delinquents, all of them convicted of something or another (except me because of the deferral.) I tutored the rest of them in math. The administrators told me that if I shaped up and met them for a review at the end of the school year, they would see about letting me back into my old school.

    The shame was too much for me, so I worked my ass off, gave up anything like free time or a social life, and made myself into the model student they expected me to be. My anger at the institutional inequalities in the school social system was buried, and I stopped any attempt at self-directed activism. Obey, conform, meet expectations, I did all those things. At the end of the year, the principal of my prior school met with me, told me that yes, I had made substantial progress, and that I was more than worthy to return to my old school as a new young man… which was precisely why he was having me stay right where I was.

    Apparently, I was just doing so well in the new environment which I was desperately working to get out of that he would not want to take me out of it. It was a Morton’s Fork: I improve so I must be doing well in the new school and should stay there, or I do poorly so I must not yet be ready to return. No path I could have taken would lead to me actually getting out of there, but they dangle the carrot or escape in front of me none the less. When I got into community college, some of the other freshmen recognized me from when we were in my first high school together, remembering me as “the psycho” rather than the person I became since then.

    Nothing like high school for beating the determination and optimism out of a young person. *Sigh*

  • Mary

    WND probably will come up with a story that behind the scenes Obama was holding some secret Muslim/Antichrist ritual…

  • Baby_Raptor

    I got ticketed by a cop and hauled to court my junior year because my Algebra teacher heard me say “Fuck” after slamming my finger between two desks on accident.

    I was charged with “disturbing the peace” and given 20 hours community service. For saying a single swear word. That’s Texas for ya.

  • Lorehead

    This other story might interest him as well.

  • Will Hennessy

    Dude! My first thought upon seeing the photos of Holi: “Why can’t we Christians do bad-ass s*** like that for a holiday?!? That looks like tons of fun.”

  • Makarii

    Festivus or GTFO.

  • Rae

    I can’t find it atm, but there’s something going around Tumblr with a screencap of that statement then a screencap of Fox News claiming that Obama’s Easter statement didn’t mention Good Friday. (For all that I like Tumblr’s tagging system, I don’t like that you can’t search for multiple tags at once)

  • It’s been said before, but:
    Worst. Muslim American President. Ever.

  • Paul

    Kinda reminds me of a parable by Jesus. The father told his son to go and do something. The son said he would go and do what his father asked him to do but, he did not carry out his promise. The other son was told to do the very same thing and said he would not do it, but later, he went and did what his father asked him to do. Which one of the sons was righteous?

  • And if he did mention Good Friday, well, he didn’t use the phrase “Islamic terrorists” and he used the word “I”.

  • guest
  • Wednesday

    It says a lot about the Vatican hierarchy that they object to this as “[setting] a questionable example” by including women in a ritual that’s supposed to represent Jesus’s humility before he died to, according to their own doctrine, save all of humanity.
    It’s not like he even said they were spiritually equal to men, or equal to men in other regards, or even allowed the right to control their own bodies. He just indicated they were among the people he’s supposed to be serving in his capacity as head of his Church. And that’s a questionable example.

  • Makabit

    They’re afraid it’s going to eventually become an issue in regards to women’s ordination, I think. The official party line is that women cannot be priests, not because we don’t want them to be but because, gosh, the apostles were all men, so Jesus was clearly saying priests should be as well. What can we possibly do about that? (My theory is that Jesus may have been thinking of some of the practical problems facing a lady in that role in the Roman world, but what do I know?)

    If Francis washes the feet of women, who thus represent the disciples…slippery slope, people, slippery slope all the way down to the point where her Holiness, Mary Magdalene VIII, is washing the walking tentacles of aliens right there in St. Peter’s Square.

  • Now these desperate jackasses are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  • Makabit

    I’d be curious to see a draft of the Easter message they want him to deliver. It would include references to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, AND Holy Saturday, then it would devolve into a rant about the evils of Islam, and wrap up with the President’s resignation.

  • I was watching a commedy podcast called “WTFIWWY”. It discussed a few of the more stupid and/or amusing things in the news. One night, one of the presenters said that the problem with America is that we just don’t give a fuck until we give ALL THE FUCKS!
    We don’t care until we care too much… and then what we care about is getting back to a state where we don’t have to care.
    Sorry the system did that to you.

  • I’m pretty sure you can’t turn white in the course of delivering a speech.

  • Vermic

    Notice how in his statement, he carefully avoids the word “worship” as well as “religion”. WHAT ARE YOU HIDING OBUMMER???

  • Albanaeon

    “Is it the ‘Vatican hierarchy’ though? The complaints I’ve been hearing
    are coming from whiny American Super-Traditionalist Catholics, of the
    sort who want Vatican II revoked and the Latin Mass restored

    That isn’t the current majority of the Vatican right now? Aside from the American part, of course.

  • So I did a short search on Obama and his Good Friday prayer and one of the first results was a right-wing wacko site which completely omitted the prayer and just had a picture of him with the caption, “God, thank you for sending your son so that I didn’t have to.”

    The comments, of course, were all about how he’s a Muslim.

  • Let me see if I have my memory indices straight — you live in WA now, don’t you? Were you one of the people who grew up in MI and moved to WA later on, like I did? It’d be crazy if this sort of thing happened often there…

  • Makabit

    He’s kind of a lousy Muslim. He drinks beer, and tells everyone he’s a Christian. I may be wrong, but I had this idea that was sort of frowned upon.

    (Massive sarcasm, people.)

  • fraser

    The one who votes a straight Republican ticket.

  • Nope, I am a Seattle native. Heck, my first non-retail job after school was working in a building on the Microsoft campus that was just a block away from the building that housed the maternity ward I was born in. For that matter, the school I am in now occupies the some of the same office space that my mother used to work at while pregnant with me.

    For a big town, the greater Seattle area is a very small world to me. :)

  • Heh, I’ve noticed that I run into people I know far more often now that I live in a suburb than when I ever lived in small towns in MI. :p

  • It would be too much trouble to the source, apparently.

    Said wacko site really makes me wonder what their problem is.

  • If Francis washes the feet of women, who thus represent the disciples…slippery slope, people, slippery slope all the way down to the point where her Holiness, Mary Magdalene VIII, is washing the walking tentacles of aliens right there in St. Peter’s Square.

    That sounds like the beginning of some kind of pornographic anime.

  • P J Evans

    I suspect these are the wackos who don’t believe anything that comes out on the WH site or from government spokespeople, because ‘you can’t trust government’ and other such remarks.

  • Funny how they trust Republicans though.

  • I wonder if your father would take this Onion piece as actually serious. Perhaps if Obama really did do that their reaction would not be “What the hell is he on… ?” but “Ha, I knew it!”

  • Carstonio

    I still suspect that most of those folks aren’t using “Muslim” in the literal religious sense. Or else they refuse to distinguish among ethnic, cultural and religious identities.

  • P J Evans

    They don’t really, except for ‘my kind of Christian’ and ‘all the other Christians (who are going to Hell)’. All Jews are interchangeable, all Muslims are interchangeable (and evil), and I don’t believe most of them even get past those to Hindus, Taoists, and so on.

  • PorlockJunior

    Not a coincidence, of course, that it’s the same guys. But there’s another, more subtle convergence. It gets down to a major failure to understand their own theology.

    A lot of grumpy old European bishops were unhappy that the Church was officially not blaming the Jews as Christ killers. Gad, sir, that’s what we’ve always understood! But didn’t Jesus say, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”? Isn’t he supposed to have died for all mankind? Fer cryin’ out loud, guys, you’re missin the whole point. But this seems to occur only to certain kinds of Christian and a few non-believers.

    So now, the Pope is doing it wrong, because Jesus only washed the feet of the Disciples, and they were all men!

    Is it possible to be this stupid? Yes, of course — but without even trying? Not so clear.

    Fortunately Francis is a Jesuit, and one thing they usually are not is Stupid. We may curse him soon enough when the political issues come up seriously, and he shows his reactionary convictions on the moral rules; meanwhile, if I were a believer, and after all I could be wrong, I’d say a thing I’ve never been tempted to say: Bless Pope Francis.

  • Mary

    I had the misfortune of meeting one woman who thought that anybody who was not a Mormon and a Republican was in league with Muslims. That included evangelical Christians as well! So everyone who does not agree is a secret socialist, communist, muslim, satanist, anti-christ devotee out to destroy Christianity and Amerca.

    All her news info came from WND..the National Equirerer of politics.
    Sometimes I wonder if these people somehow enjoy their paranoia. Fear can be titiliating as any horror movie fan can tell you. It gives them something to fight for in their otherwise tedious lives. The sad part is that there are many real genuine causes to fight for, but instead they waste their time on non-issues.

    And people wonder why I have given up on the Republican party…