In a pre-inauguration sermon on Monday morning at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington D. C., pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Georgia referred to President Barack Obama as the “pastor-in-chief” based on his behavior during some of the nation’s recent tragic events. The regular pastor at St. John’s, Luis Leon, was asked to deliver the benediction at Obama’s public inauguration ceremony that morning.
The Christian Post reported that Stanley thanked President Obama for his compassionate response to the Newtown school shooting in December, when 26 students and staff were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School before the shooter took his own life. Stanley talked about doing what is necessary when you’re “the most powerful person in the room,” referring to the story in John 13 where Jesus was surely the most influential person but chose to wash the feet of the disciples. Stanley prayed that Obama would “continue to leverage this influence for the sake of our nation and the sake of the world.”
Stanley made his comments that morning among opposing opinions of Obama by other pastors in the nation. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle tweeted on inauguration day, “Praying for our president, who today will place his hands on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.” Driscoll’s tweet produced a great deal of debate among the Christian community, some criticizing him for his “judgment” of the president’s faith.