President Obama’s detractors questioned his patriotism, birth, and his Christian faith, but by his own confession in an excerpt from a 10-part feature in Yahoo News, he leaves no doubt on his spiritual beliefs
In the last year of his presidency, Obama turned his attention to the question of how people of faith should respond to fear. Speaking at the White House Easter breakfast in the aftermath of terror attacks in Brussels, he told his guests, “These attacks can foment fear and division. They can tempt us to cast out the stranger, to strike out against those who don’t look like us or pray exactly as we do.”
But, he continued, “if Easter means anything, it’s that you don’t have to be afraid. We are Easter people, people of hope and not fear.”
Obama’s most complete mediation on fear took the form of his final National Prayer Breakfast address, in which he preached on a verse from 2 Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
It did not escape the attention of his listeners that the February 2016 address took place against the backdrop of the Republican presidential primary — and particularly Donald Trump’s candidacy. While Obama did not mention politics, his words served as a rebuke to those who would stoke fear.
“It is a primal emotion — fear — one that we all experience. And it can be contagious,” he acknowledged. “For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear.”
“His love,” Obama continued, “gives us the power to resist fear’s temptations. He gives us the courage to reach out to others across that divide, rather than push people away.”
That’s a message that hasn’t been heard from many pulpits in the past year, with conservative Christians afraid of government and threats posed by immigrants and refugees, and liberal Christians afraid of Trump himself and the normalization of intolerance. But it’s a profoundly Christian message.
“My faith tells me that I need not fear death; that the acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins,” Obama told his listeners at that Blue Room Easter address.
Indeed, the Christian bible reminds us our confession of Christ Jesus and our faith are both personal endeavors.