WASHINGTON, February 6, 2012 ( – Even as furor in the Christian community erupted against the Obama administration’s birth control mandate last week, President Obama told a crowd at the National Prayer Breakfast that his health care agenda stemmed from his belief in Jesus Christ.

Obama touted his mantra of “shared responsibility” through raising taxes on the wealthy and regulating the insurance industry as “coincid[ing] with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’”

“We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can’t dictate our response to every challenge we face,” Obama told 3,000 gathered at the breakfast Thursday. “But in my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problem.”


In particular, he noted, “when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick …. I also do it because … I believe in God’s command to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’”

(Click here to view the full transcript of Obama’s remarks.)

Obama quoted several verses of Scripture to bolster his thesis, including the Book of Proverbs and the Johannine epistles: “John tells us that, ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?’”

Several commentators panned the president’s use of religious verbiage to defend his politics – something one former Congressman said “shattered” the “non-partisan and non-political” camaraderie traditional at the event.

“[Obama] has every right to advocate for his views in whatever forum he wants. But his failure to recognize that certain forums are not, have not been and should not be employed to press an overtly political agenda is truly shameful,” said former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, who noted that several of Obama’s remarks at the breakfast were “lifted virtually verbatim” from his recent State of the Union address.

A Washington Post article linked the speech’s religious tone to the recent outrage of Catholic and Christian groups for a new federal rule forcing universities and hospitals to provide even abortifacient birth control and sterilization free of copay. 

Mr. Obama, who does not attend church, has fought skepticism about his Christianity since the 2008 campaign, and has often used religious audiences as a venue for explaining how his progressive agenda meshes with his Christian faith, perhaps most famously at Notre Dame in 2009.