The National Prayer Breakfast: Live coverage

9:45 a.m. Between keynote speaker Eric Metaxas’ jibes and having a counter-protest-breakfast around the corner, it seems appropriate that the … Continued

9:45 a.m.

Between keynote speaker Eric Metaxas’ jibes and having a counter-protest-breakfast around the corner, it seems appropriate that the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast ended on an unconventional note: With a Heisman Trophy winner announcing he had to use the restroom.

Gearing up to give the closing prayer, Robert Griffin III first invited President Obama to shoot a round of hoops (promising “I won’t dunk on you at all,” out of deference to the office), then said the breakfast had been “really long.” He joked he hadn’t gotten the memo about how to behave and imbibe on the dais, had been drinking liquids for hours and really had to use the restroom.

Then Griffin offered a short prayer of thanks to God and urged his fellow Christians to take Jesus’ values “and show the world not only with our words, but with our actions.”

The president, meanwhile, made no real news. Some White House staff had characterized the speech in the run-up as important, particularly in the context that some GOP presidential candidates and religious conservatives are challenging some Obama policies as limiting “religious freedom.” But at the end of the day, the breakfast is billed as a spiritual event, maybe not the time for a hard-hitting political message.

9:25 a.m.

President Obama speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, said his policy arguments stem from his interpretation of his Christian faith. For the wealthy to give up tax breaks, he says, is simply following the scriptural mandate: “To whom much is given, much shall be required.”

Obama was preceded by writer Eric Metaxas, who prompted lots of awkward laughter—the kind of moments where you’re not sure if he’s kidding; you’re kind of outraged but kind of, um, inspired?

 He launched his talk before thousands of mostly Christian conservatives by slamming the $175 ticket price tag as totally 1 percent, “price gouging” and “money-laundering.”

The biographer and “Veggie Tales” writer described finding God in a period of deep depression as a young man, and was introduced to the ideas by an Episcopalian: “They don’t believe this stuff anyway,” he joked. But this one did.

And about the ideas in his books, one of which was read by former President George W. Bush, “who is intellectually incurious, as we’ve all read,” he joked. 

But his deepest message was that Christianity has been warped into a focus on doctrine and judgment. “Pious baloney isn’t faith. Imagine talking to Jesus that way. He’d almost laugh,” Metaxas said.

 He cited slavery and the Holocaust and asked who in 2012 is considered expendable?

“You think you’re better than Germans? You’re not.” He called on those who, like him, believe abortion and same-sex relationships violate God’s will, to “love those who do not see that yet.” Applause at that line. “You must treat those on the other side with love.”

9 a.m.

The holy mixing of football and faith, from my colleague, White House reporter David Nakamura:

He’s headed to the National Football League, but first Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III stopped by the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington to participate in the annual gathering. Griffin, who passed up his final year of eligibility at Baylor University to turn professional, reportedly was invited to Washington by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

Griffin has been described as an outspoken Christian. In his Heisman acceptance speech, Griffin said: “To Baylor nation, I say this is a forever kind of moment, and may we be blessed to have many more like it in the future. God has a plan, and it’s our job to fulfill it, and in this moment we have.”

The faith of football players has been hotly debated after the breakout season of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, himself a former Heisman winner. Tebow is a devout Christian who has knelt in prayer on the field, a practice that became known as “Tebowing” and was widely immitated.

Griffin also has knelt on the field after big plays, as seen in this video (at the 1:01 mark).

8:40 a.m.

Stream of political, military and even sports leaders on the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast. Among them so far: Nancy Pelosi, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and 11-year-old singer Jackie Evancho… keynote speaker is author Eric Metaxas…

Metaxas just provoked some nervous laughter by saying the $175 price of a ticket is evidence of “money-laundering” and price-gouging. “Even I, as a member of the 1 percent, cannot afford this ticket.”

8 a.m.

Looks like we’re going to have a revved-up National Prayer Breakfast this year.

The event, which brings thousands of religious activists — Christian conservatives in particular — to the Washington Hilton to hear the U.S. president and other speakers, is officially a non-partisan, spiritual event.

But this year there’s the backdrop of a presidential election, so that means game time in Washington.

For months the Catholic bishops and other religious conservatives have been making the argument that the Obama White House is limiting religous freedom.Some GOP candidates have also flirted with that argument. The latest fodder is the Obama-crafted health care rule that requires most providers to offer birth control. Last night, the administration sent out a defense, saying it is committed to “respecting religious beliefs.” It also sent out a Catholic Web site’s blog about the controversy, noting the vast majority of American Catholics use birth control.

Obama is scheduled to address the breakfast this morning, a speech closely-watched each year since this president tends to keep his spiritual life private and close to the vest. The prayer breakfast is perhaps the longest single period each year he speaks about his Christian faith and his beliefs about the role of religion in public life.

Meanwhile, some folks down the street from the Occupy movement have organized an alternative prayer breakfast that is free (the official National Prayer Breakfast is $175 a seat) and meant to highlight issues of the poor. They’re calling it “The First Annual People’s Prayer Breakfast,” or “a tale of two breakfasts.”

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  • ccnl1

    o What Obama can do to at least lift part of the Immoral Majority leader label?

    He says abortions should be “safe, legal and rare” but says nothing about the basic tenet of proper human conduct i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill. And where is BO’s sense of indignation that abortions are not rare and that these acts of horror demean the Golden Rule considering that he says he is a Christian. And where is his sense of indignation that women who use the Pill do not use it properly resulting in an failure rate of 8.7% as per the Guttmacher Institute statistics. Using these and other Guttmacher Institute data, this failure of women to use the Pill properly results in ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. And the annual abortion rate in the USA is?? ~1,000,000 as per the CDC.

    And do males use condoms properly? No, as said failure rate for this birth “control” method is 17.4%!! Again using Guttmacher data, said failure rate results in another ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year.

    The Guttmacher Institute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

    Bottom line: BO is still not aware of the basics of birth control and still remains the leader of the Immoral Majority and will remain so until he becomes a true Christian and one who respects and protects human life in all its forms and who at least emphasizes the proper use of birth control methods!!!

    The “Immoral Majority” you ask?

    The fastest growing (and largest?) USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million “Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers” of aborted womb-babies” whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million “IM” voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for “pro-life” JM.

  • jckdoors

    Enough with all these prayer breakfasts. Maybe it’s time to yank churches tax exemption status.

  • jckdoors

    Tiresome. Do you think all this started in the last three years? Grow up.

  • kilgore_nobiz

    What, no bold comment from our glorious leader on why policy should trump faith when it comes to abortion and birth control?

  • braultrl

    Cue the wingnuts calling the president a secret Muslim…

  • kilgore_nobiz

    I believe you have done that for us.

  • braultrl

    Like I said…you and gulliam….suck much?

  • aristotlegleuteusmaximus

    OMG! Jackie Evancho at the national prayer breakfast with all of those Washington power players. Who is she, the sacrificial virgin?

  • Desertdiva1

    I’d give my firstborn up to watch the Catholic church lose it’s tax exempt status.

  • roadrunner1

    So what is your “pro-life” position on Bush Jr’s Iraq/Afghanistan adventure? How many perished due to his psychosis? No one is pro abortion, but like many on your “pro-life” team, your narrow view abandons life after birth.

  • ak1967

    Keep in mind that Taliban and Saudi Arabia religious leaders mistreat women in the name of freedom of religion.

  • braultrl

    So does the American Taliban. They want women barefoot and pregnant on the edge of town with total obedience to their husbands like good Stepford wives…

  • jismquiff

    If Obama play his religious cards just right, could he score some knockdowns over MORMON WILLARD “MITT” ROMNEY?

  • ohioan

    If we didn’t have OBAMACARE, we wouldn’t have this issue.
    ObamaCare forces religious institutions and charities, schools to PAY FOR KILLING BABIES., ss well as Taxpayers. This is Dreadfully WRONG.

    This is a perfect example why government ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT BE TAKING OVER HEALTHCARE or anything else.

    We’re SUPPOSED to have SEPARATION of church and state.

  • ccnl1

    – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina’s secession from Yugoslavia.

    The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

    – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

    – Bin Laden was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

    – Ditto for Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011

  • ccnl1

    Fellowship Foundation –Sponsors of the National Prayer Breakfast —

    “Mission Statement-

    To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as “ambassadors of reconciliation”, modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others. To work with the leaders of other nations, and as their hearts are touched, the poor, the oppressed, the widows, and the youth of their country will be impacted in a positive manner. Youth groups will be developed under the thoughts of Jesus, including loving others as you want to be loved.

    Total revenue reported on their IRS Form 990 for 2008 was $16,265,873.

    Their highest paid employees are four associates who average about $120,000/yr each including benefits.

    The Coe family appears to be heavily involved with this “non-profit” with two members being associates as noted above and with five other family members working for the group averaging about $12,000/yr.

    Strangest grant made in 2008 was to the Golf Ministry of Argentina for $11,000.

    On the 2006 IRS Forms, they list the Wilberforce Foundation as a related exempt organization located at the C Street Center. Wilburforce’s treasurer is David Coe. One of the VP’s is his brother Tim Coe. Both brothers are also associates at the Fellowship Foundation . David’s salary from Wilburforce is $125,000/yr including benefits. Tim Coe’s salary is $116,000. These are the same salaries listed on the Fellowship Foundation’s 2008 IRS 990 Form. One assumes that the brothers are getting salaries from both organizations i.e. $250,000 and $232,000/yr to include benefits. Marty Sherman also works for both organizations and one assumes gets the double salary of approximately $250,000.

    The Fellowship Foundation sponsors the National Prayer breakfast every year. On the 2008 Form 990, the breakfast cost $1,097,465 but was offset by ticket sales and donations of $1,173,584.

    The Family Coe involvement: (from Wikipedia)

    Hillary Clinton described meeting t

  • johnboy44th

    Obama is lieing again he is not a christian . Obama is a
    muslim .he is running for a secound term so now he is a
    christian .after the election he will be a muslem again this
    man is a liar. this man is a dictator and he is very
    dangerous. and our democrats in washington are starting
    to be the same .

  • PChK

    CBN and the World Net Daily don’t qualify as news services. Please take your bigotry back to Free Republic or Storm Front.

  • PChK

    Can you explain to me how allowing uninsured and low-income people to sicken and die squares with pro-life? Why are pro-lifers so concerned with the pre-born and not the post-born?

  • gekkobear

    Charity is so much easier with someone else’s money… right Obama?

    That’s what Jesus said… sit on your own money, don’t give it to charity; instead steal from others and give their money to charity while keeping your own.. that is the path to heaven for you.

    Or something like that… I’m sure hoarding your own earnings while stealing from others for charity was a driving goal though.

    Otherwise why would the Obama’s avoid giving to charity while claiming it’s a good everyone should do? Should you only give to charity when forced to do so?

  • spaul40

    One of Jackie’s parents and one of her siblings are always with her on all her receptions/performances. She attended and performed at the 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony in DC with the Obama family and tens of thousands of others. Nothing sacrificial about her!

  • bcrowejr1

    Don’t you just love it when Pres. Obama quotes the Holy Bible.