Obama’s Easter Strike-out!

No one really throws hard balls to the President, so it was still somewhat surprising when he and/or folks within his administration took three big swings at all things Easter and came up with a goose egg (not the kind you want to find on Easter).  The first swing and miss came courtesy of President Obama’s choice of which church he and his family would worship at on Easter Sunday morning.

Now, as a (Southern) Baptist pastor, I take some comfort knowing that the President chose to worship at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in the nation’s Capital.  Having worshipped at a large Methodist church last Easter (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I was glad to hear that the First Family would be worshipped with Christians of the Baptist persuasion this Easter

However, my joy turned to perplexity when I discovered (no thanks to the Washington Post and other MSM) more of the history of Shiloh Baptist Church, particularly of their current pastor.  Even as we can celebrate the founding of Shiloh by freed slaves in 1863, one has to wonder why the President or his people chose this particular Baptist church at attend on Easter?  Was it because the church hosted a “anti-Israel hate fest in 2009?”

In October of 2009, while Taylor (an Associate Pastor) was serving in the Shiloh Baptist Church and as an intern in the Obama administration, the church hosted a hate Israel conference sponsored by a radicalized Palestinian Christian liberation theology group that called the establishment of Israel “The Catastrophe” (Nakba) and has openly questioned Israel’s right to exist. (full article here)

Was Shiloh Baptist chosen by (or for) America’s first post-racial President because the current pastor, Dr. Wallace Charles Smith, sees Christianity in terms of race, not unlike Obama’s former pastor?

“[Pastor Smith] talked about how his baby grandson’s gurgling is actually “talking” because he is saying ‘I am here … they tried to write me off as 3/5 a person in the Constitution, but I am here right now … and is saying I am not going to let anybody from stopping me from being what God wants me to be.’” (full article here)

That Dr. Smith could even ask such a question belies a complete disconnect from reality.  That a Christian pastor would somehow see racists or white supremacists as the ones who would stop his grandson from “being what God wants me to be” when, at the same time, you have the most pro-abortion President sitting in your pews — who has gone out of his way to support abortion, kind of making it impossible at the front-end for anyone’s grandchild to be all that God wants them to be — should tell us all that we need to know about Dr. Wallace Charles Smith.

I’m not sure which is worse:  that President and Mrs. Obama chose Shiloh themselves or that their advance team chose Shiloh as the place where the Obama’s would celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For someone supposedly the smartest man who has ever occupied the Oval Office, this President’s choices would certainly argue the opposite.

Those choices include the people who the President surrounds himself with.  One of the more important — and visible — people in the Obama Administration is the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney.  While Jay may think that he is a gifted communicator, he (and by extension, the President) took two more swings at Easter-related pitches and whiffed both of them.

First, when asked why the President did not release an official proclamation on Easter, Mr. Carney seemed to dismiss the question in a rather mocking style.  As I have not watched him in press conferences that much, I don’t know whether or not a condescending style by Mr. Carney is normal or not.  If I had to guess, I would say yes.

In trying to explain that the President and his family attended Easter Worship Services at Shiloh Baptist Church, Carney tried to downplay the significance of no Easter proclamation.  While it was nice that the Obama’s attended church (although see my caveat above), church attendance and Easter proclamations are not mutually exclusive.  Why couldn’t the President released a simple proclamation for what is arguably the single most important holiday for Christians?  He seems to be able to produce proclamations for just about every major Muslim holiday, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to issue a proclamation around Easter.

But, instead of acknowledging the oversight (if it was an oversight), Mr. Carney laughed off the question in a way that seemed to be mocking the reported who asked. Whether or not one sees the need for an Easter proclamation from this President (or any other President) is not necessarily the issue.  The reason why Carney swung and missed the second easy pitch was because of a pride that seems to have infected this White House.

The third swing and miss is a bit more problematic.  It deals with Mr. Carney’s response to part of an interview that the Rev. Franklin Graham (son of famous evangelist Billy Graham) gave to ABC’s This Week which was broadcast on Easter Sunday morning. In answering a question about Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding President Obama’s birth certificate, Franklin Graham said:

“Well, the — the president I know has some issues to deal with here. He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly. I don’t — I was born in a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there.  You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born. I don’t know why he can’t produce that. So I’m not — I don’t know. But it’s an issue that looks like he could — he could answer pretty quickly.”

But, instead of ignoring or downplaying what Graham said, Carney chose to respond in a rather petulant fashion (I guess mockery and petulance will get you top communications positions in this White House):

Carney, in an abrupt answer, reacted and said, “It’s interesting that a minister would use Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges.”

Graham was not “using” Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges.  He was answering a question that was asked the week before and then broadcast on Easter.  I’m quite certain that neither ABC’s This Week nor its News Division gave Rev. Graham the authority to schedule when his interview would be aired.

He was responding to something that Donald Trump had said.  His response, by the way, was perfectly reasonable, even for folks like me who do not consider ourselves “birthers.”   Of course this is an issue that the President could answer pretty quickly, but for some odd reason, has chosen not to.  But, then again, the President has been unwilling to release any of his records from college or law school either.  At least he’s consistent.

With his erratic swing and miss at Franklin Graham, Jay Carney and the Presidential team — including its star player — struck out this Easter.  There’s always next year, but with this President and the brilliant team that he has surrounded himself with, don’t look for them to do the right thing next Easter either.  If they did, they would only be acknowledging mistakes they made this Easter.  And that they will never do!


About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Politics, Religion, Worship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Obama’s Easter Strike-out!

  1. BDW says:

    I read that the last Easter proclamation was issued in 1980 by then President Jimmy Carter.

    Did you miss that important tidbit?

    There are many important policy issues that this country needs to confront. But this type of controversy is just lame. And it’s lame whether it comes from folks on the Left or the Right.

    Who really cares what Carney said about Graham. Do you really think that Graham deserves the benefit of the doubt, that he should be taken seriously? My gosh, he’s out on national television questioning whether OUR President was really born in the United States, whether he’s really an American? You call that reasonable?

    I’m glad that at least some generally far-right conservatives – see Jan Brewer – have the sense to reject such talk as crazy. What Graham said was offensive.

    And whether you consider yourself a birther or not, your comments (your use of “odd”) and characterization of Graham would lead many reasonable people to believe that you yourself are not convinced that our President was born in Hawaii.

    Do you doubt that our President was born in Hawaii?

    • Howell Scott says:


      Sorry for the delay in responding. Was on the road several hours visiting a church member in the hospital in El Paso who has terminal cancer. To answer your last question first, I don’t doubt that President Obama was born in Hawaii. I further think that Trump is using this as a wedge issue with some conservatives. I have previously written about Trump’s Presidential bid and certain evangelical’s flirtation with such a bid. I think that Franklin Graham came close to endorsing Trump, which I also find odd, but which wasn’t the general point of my post. I think that Obama and/or people in his administration — including Jay Carney — could handle some of these issues better. If the birther issue is so far out in right field, then why even respond to something that Franklin Graham said about something Trump said? Graham was not the one who brought up the birther issue in the first place. Truth be told, no one really watches ABC’s This Week. I don’t. I would never have known about the White House’s response had it not been posted on Drudge. And, had Carney just politely declined to engage Graham, then this would be a non-story. That is the strike. Same with answering the question about the Easter proclamation. Whether or not an Easter proclamation is needed or not, the issue is one of response. Again, this could be a non-issue had handled the question in a less mocking manner, IMO. The church issue is much bigger, especially given the Obama’s past association with Jeremiah Wright’s church. You would think that a little vetting would have gone a long way toward avoiding some of these pitfalls. Thanks for stopping by. God bless,


    • jeofurry says:

      It depends on how you define a proclamation. President Obama did put out an Easter message last year. And according to that article, Bush had similar messages. Maybe President Obama just didn’t want to stick his foot in his mouth again this year. Who knows.

  2. Dennis Salley, Jr. says:

    I don’ t know the history of Easter proclamations and that might make a difference in how we are reacting. As I have seen various reports of this I have wondered why there has been no reference to the Easter Prayer Breakfast the President hosted. Maybe he should be given some credit for that. On at least one conervative radio show the President’s motives were brought under question but in the video that I have seen, the President got it right. I admit to being bothered that our President seems to have a proclamation for Muslim holidays and not for Easter which is celebrated worldwide. His choice of a church to attend on Easter leaves something to be desired but doesn’t someone need to acknowledge that there was a gathering of Christian leaders with the President at an Easter Prayer Breakfast.

  3. Dennis Salley, Jr. says:

    I have seen the press conference and I was more concerned with the attitude that asking questions about a proclamation on Easter was not important. It might not be important as a legislative issue or a politcal talking point but as a Christian holiday observed by millions worldwide surely it is important and deserves more than the “laugh off” that Mr. Carney gave it. For instance, Mr. Carney could have reminded the press that the President had hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast a few days before.

    • Howell Scott says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting. The reason why I think that Carney (and Obama) swung and missed on the Easter proclamation has more to do with how Carney answered the question than the advisability of an Easter proclamation. However, if the President is going to issue proclamations for major Muslim holidays, I do find it odd that he would not issue a proclamation for the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. You are correct in that Carney could have said many things to make this an easy hit, but instead he whiffed it. When you have a softball over the plate, why be condescending, unless of course that is your personality? Thanks again and God bless,


  4. Dave Miller says:


    I have never been a birther, nor really cared about the whole birth certificate thing. There is so much wrong with this President that where he was born seems to be the least of the issues. Whether he was born in Kenya, Hawaii or on Mars, his fiscal policies will still bankrupt this nation anyway.

    But the truth is, as this thing drags on, I find myself more and more wondering whether there is something to this. Why not just produce the document? The Obama administration’s reaction to this has been the thing that has aroused at least a small degree of skepticism about the issue.

  5. Stephen Fox says:

    As David Miller and BDW have joined the fray this should be an interesting discussion for sure.

    I have started a thread in SBC Trends of http://www.baptistlife.com/forums that gets as close to the heart of Franklin Graham and the Birther Matter as I am capable. I have there a great quote from Steven Miller on Billy Graham and a reference to the Wade Hampton Hotel in Ed Young’s Columbia SC of 1966.

    That is the heart of this matter for Southern Baptists it seems to me.

    As for Obama’s heart when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I recommend David Remnick’s The Bridge.

    One other thought, Christ as Liberator as discussed by Diarmaid MacCulloch in his magisterial recent book on Christianity may help David Miller and Rev. Scott put the Shiloh’s Easter remarks in perspective.

    And the both of you as will myself learn a lot from Joseph Crespino’s book In Search of Another Country. I am looking to Joe to help me better understand David Miller and SBC Peace Committee’s Charles Pickering, former President of the Mississippi SBC.

    • Howell Scott says:


      Hope you are doing well and had a wonderful Easter. I was not so much concerned with the religious aspect of why Obama chose to worship at Shiloh Baptist Church as much as I am with how the political and the religious intersected. In terms of Christ being a liberator, I wholeheartedly agree if by that you (or anyone else) mean that Christ came to die on the Cross and was raised again to liberate us from our sins. I do not subscribe to liberationist theology and am not sure that there is much, if any, Biblical basis for such. That being said, from a political perspective, you would think that the Obama’s or their advance team would have researched Shiloh and their pastor a bit more. Might have saved them from that first strike! Thanks and God bless,


  6. BDW says:

    What are you talking about Dave?  See FactCheck.org 

    What's inadequate here?

    • Dave Miller says:

      Today, the White House released the Birth Certificate. Had they done that a while back, we could have left this silliness behind and then focused on the horrendous policies this president is advancing which are demoralizing and bankrupting our nation.

      He should have done this 2 years ago.

      • Tom Parker says:

        Dave Miller:

        You said:”Today, the White House released the Birth Certificate. Had they done that a while back, we could have left this silliness behind and then focused on the horrendous policies this president is advancing which are demoralizing and bankrupting our nation.

        He should have done this 2 years ago.”

        Wow! President Obama does what I am confident he did not have to do and you and others still bellyache.

        Also while you are ranting about his demoralizing and bankrupting our nation, please be sure to give President Bush credit for getting us into two wars that have cost this nation Billions and possibly Trillions of dollars and untold loss of human life and who greatly contributed towards the current financial condition of the USA.

        Whether you and others like it he is our current President and you know Republicans are not helping him at all.

        BTW, are you still a birther?

      • Dave Miller says:

        Tom, I have interacted enough with you to know that you have no desire for the truth.

        I will share it anyway. I’m not a birther. Never have been.

      • Tom Parker says:

        Dave Miller:

        You said:”Today, the White House released the Birth Certificate. Had they done that a while back, we could have left this silliness behind——–”

        The better question is “who was behind all of this silliness and what was the goal of those who kept this silliness alive?”

        My prediction is that the silliness about his birth will now move to something else silly.

        President Obama can never satisfy “these” people.

  7. BDW says:

    Richard Land had a good word on Sunday.  From Christianity Today:

    Richard Land, who was also a guest on This Week, said that those who believe Obama is a Muslim are "irrational" and "a little imbalanced." Land said Obama is "a very typical 21st-century mainline Protestant."

    "I say the idea that he wasn't born in Hawaii, and the idea that he's a Muslim is just flat nuts," said Land, who is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

  8. Bennett Willis says:

    Perhaps you might want to read this conservative columnist’s column this week:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/lindachavez/2011/04/22/trump,_birthers,_and_the_truth Note that she refers people to Factcheck.org which is mentioned above.

    Some paragraphs from the column: “Birthers” — and Trump seems to have joined their ranks — claim that Obama is not eligible to be president because he isn’t a “natural born citizen” as required by Article II of the Constitution. They base their theories on the false charge that Obama has never produced a valid copy of his birth certificate and therefore must be hiding something, namely that he was born someplace other than Hawaii, as he maintains.

    During the 2008 election, people sometimes sent me newspaper articles that “proved” Obama was born in Kenya. When I’d point out the fake dateline or incorrect style headings attributed to the Associated Press or other newswires and numerous misspellings and grammatical errors that even a high school editor would have caught, they’d just send me more “evidence.” I soon found that there’s no convincing people whose ideas are based on hatred, not facts.

    The facts are these: Obama produced a valid copy of his Hawaiian certificate of live birth before the 2008 election. The document–with its proper, three-dimensional seal and attestation by the state registrar that it is “a true copy and abstract of the records on file” clearly visible — is readily available for viewing online at FactCheck.org, among other places.

    My comments again: Is it too much to suggest that a few typed words and a click or two would produce the requested proof? Or does it have to be wacky to be true these days?

    • Howell Scott says:


      I do not doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii. Unless there is a grand conspiracy, which includes the former Secretary of State in Hawaii, a Republican, and the current Democrat Governor, then there should be no question as to where Obama was born. That being said, it would probably not take much to have the “long-form” birth record released, if the President were so inclined. Maybe he will do that at some point. I heard today that some believe he is waiting for the right time politically to move for this record’s release. Of course, I also heard Trump say that his sources told him that this original record either does not exisit or cannot be located. I think Trump is not a serious person to be considered for the Presidency, but he seems to be making hay with this issue. Why Carney would choose to highlight Grahams comments — which hardly anyone, including me would have ever heard — is why Carney and Obama struck out on this and the other two issues. The church that the Obama’s chose to attend for Easter services are perhaps more problematic, given his record with his former long-time pastor, Jeremiah Wright. From a political perspective, that’s why I think Obama struck out this Easter season. Thanks and God bless,


  9. Stephen Fox says:


    Again, see David Remnick in The Bridge; his sterling chapter on Jeremiah Wright.

    Just up a few minutes ago, critique of Frank Graham’s interview on the Birther thing in Christianity Today; review at RD.org:


    • Howell Scott says:


      I agree with the assessment in the Religion Dispatches article that Graham did himself no favors in the Christianity Today interview. I do find it interesting that folks who would not otherwise quote Richard Land are now using him as some sort of expert in this field. As I told BDW, I do not doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii. For that not to be the case, there would have to be a conspiracy that was pretty far ranging. However, I do not think that it is nuts to question why the President has not released certain records, including his college and law school records. I don’t think that it is nuts to wonder why the President would not have killed this story by seeking the release of the “long-form” birth record in the Hawaii archives. Presumably a Democrat-controlled legislature, along with Democrat Gov. Abercrombie (an Obama family friend) could take whatever steps necessary to make the release happen. I do consider it odd, from a political perspective, why Obama has not done this to date. And, he can’t have it both ways. Either this is a non-story that his Press Secretary should have ignored vis-a-vi Franklin Graham or this is a legitimate story that they could handle in a more politically astute way. Do I think there is something that Obama does not want the public to know that are in all of his records? Makes me wonder. Of course, I went to law school with guys like Obama so I know first-hand how these lawyer-politicians operate, no matter how smooth they appear to be. Thanks for the link. God bless,


  10. Stephen Fox says:

    Thanks for the reply and thanks for joining the discussion at bl.com

    There is a great picture of Obama in limousine in Time’s issue of 100 most influential. And Rahm Emanuel does a good job with VP Biden as well.

    As I’ve said before great regret of my life was not making it to Selma in 07 to see Obama, Hillary and Bill.

    I persist in my recommendation of Remnick, Miller and Crespino to you. Hope you can read them all over the summer.




  11. Pingback: Shiloh Baptist & the Fox News Easter Controversy | the big daddy weave

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