Megachurch pastors are speaking out about President Barack Obama—some with praise from distinguished positions amid inauguration festivities, and some with criticism over the President's beliefs.
After weeks of headlines over the controversy that kept Louie Giglio from participating in the inauguration, few took notice that fellow Atlanta-area megachurch pastor Andy Stanley gave the sermon during Obama's visit to St. John's Episcopal Church yesterday morning.
Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, suggested the president should be called "pastor in chief" for his leadership following the Sandy Hook shootings. He acknowledged the president's influenced and prayed that Obama would "continue to leverage this influence for the sake of our nation and the sake of the world."
Several presidents of evangelical organizations made the list for the inauguration prayer service held today at the National Cathedral, reported Religion News Service: Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals. So did Charles Jenkins II, senior pastor of Chicago's Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, who recently reflected on his ministry for CT's sister publication Leadership. Also Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor of Houston's Windsor Village United Methodist Church, profiled by CT here and interviewed several times.
Also selected was Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of Kansas' United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, recently named United Methodist of the Year, profiled by RNS here and subject of an upcoming CT profile.
Meanwhile, Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, became the first Latino to deliver the keynote sermon at Ebeneezer Baptist Church's annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.
While Giglio stayed positive on Twitter Monday, Mark Driscoll acknowledged the inauguration with this tweet: "Praying for our President, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."
Obama has faced skepticism over his Christian faith throughout his presidency, despite publicly sharing his conversion story and proclaiming his belief in Christ. CT's coverage of Obama can be found here, including a 2008 interview in which he told CT, "I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
John Piper, too, tweeted an Obama critique: "President Obama ‘spiritually blind' or ‘evil hypocrite' in claiming MLK and disregarding the weakest," linking to a Washington Times editorial on the president's stance on abortion.
While Driscoll's and Piper's comments have been shared thousands of times across the web, they've also spurred backlash from Christians who think they need to back off. American Baptist pastor and blogger Alan Rudnick wrote:
I don't agree with 100% of President Obama's stances on political issues but that doesn't mean I need to publicly bash his belief in Christ. This type of Christian stoning is ugly. It in no way furthers the Kingdom of God. It is easy to lob stones across social media and never face the person who you defame. On social media it is just too easy to be snarky, rude, or just plain uncouth. Anyone who is in Christ needs to resist the temptation to hurl a stone at another on social media.