Phil Gingrey walks out on Barack Obama’s prayer address

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey confirmed this afternoon that the Marietta Republican walked out of President Barack Obama’s address at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, offended by what the congressman said was an injection of political rhetoric into an occasion of non-partisan reflection.

“He was glad that the president attended, but he felt that there were 364 days in a year to give a speech on your policies or campaign rhetoric,” said Gingrey spokeswoman Jen Talaber.

She said Gingrey enjoyed the remarks by the event’s keynote speaker, conservative author Eric Metaxes, who was in South Carolina last month campaigning with GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Here are the opening paragraphs from the Associated Press account of Obama’s remarks:

WASHINGTON — Blending politics and religion, President Barack Obama said his Christian faith is a driving force behind his economic policies, from Wall Street reform to his calls for the wealthy to pay higher taxes.

Obama’s remarks Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast were his most explicit account of how his personal religious beliefs factor into his decision-making on the nation’s pressing problems. The comments came amid election-year criticism from Catholic groups and some Republicans that the president is waging a war on religion following his decision to require church-affiliated institutions to cover free birth control for employees.

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the annual breakfast, Obama said “faith and values” should play as much as role in tackling the nation’s challenges as sound decision-making and smart policies.

Talaber, the spokeswoman for Gingrey, said the Georgia congressman – a devout Catholic — listened to “several minutes” of Obama’s remarks.

“[Gingrey] said he was disappointed, because he wanted to know what was in the president’s heart, and not just rhetoric,” the spokeswoman said. “So he said that he decided to quietly get up and leave because he felt that it wasn’t the time or the place, and that the president didn’t seem to be aware of the meaning of the breakfast or why so many people came to hear him speak. He was offended by the very tone of the speech.”

Talaber said she didn’t know whether any other members of Congress who followed Gingrey’s example. “He wasn’t trying to rally the troops,” she said.

The AP account backs up one of Gingrey’s points, reporting that the president’s defense of his policies was a “rare injection” of politics into the annual bipartisan event. Here’s the remainder of the piece:

[Obama] said, for example, that his own call for fairness in the tax code — a central tenet of his State of the Union address and his 2012 campaign — is both economically sound and consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

“If I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense,” he said. “But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’ It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.”

He also said the Wall Street reform he championed both “makes the economy stronger for everyone” and abides by God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” because it helped people who had been hurt or treated unfairly by financial institutions.

And Obama said he believed in a “biblical call” to care for the poor and to follow “the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.’”

The president’s remarks came one day after Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, created a flap with clumsy comments about the poor.

Romney said wasn’t concerned about the “very poor” because they have a safety net. He also said he wasn’t concerned about the very rich and intended to focus his campaign on the middle class.

“You can focus on the very poor; that’s not my focus,” Romney said.

While the White House said the president’s remarks were not meant to be political, his comments did fit neatly into the Obama campaign’s effort to draw sharp contrasts between the president and Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor is among Republicans who have criticized the president for not exempting religious organizations from a requirement in the 2010 health care law that requires insurers to cover birth control for their employees. Romney said this week that the president was ordering “religious organizations to violate their conscience.”

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Obama has “declared war on the Catholic Church,” and House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday the mandate violates the Constitution.

Obama never mentioned the controversy in his remarks Thursday, nor did he reference his Republican rivals by name.

But his broader defense of his policies was a rare interjection of politics into the annual prayer breakfast. The breakfast is organized by bipartisan congressional lawmakers, but speakers often avoid overt political references beyond calling for civility and respect in Washington.

While Obama speaks often about his faith, he prefers to worship in private. He said Thursday that he starts each morning with a brief prayer, then spends time reading scripture. Sometimes, he said, pastors come to the Oval Officer to pray with him, for his family and for the country.

He also described his own religious transformation in deeply personal language Thursday, from growing up in a non-religious home to finding Christ later in his life. He recalled a visit a few years ago with the evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, which ended with the president feeling compelled to pray for the aging Graham.

Obama said when he found himself at that moment not knowing what to say, the Holy Spirit interceded.

“I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment, asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong,” he said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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710 comments Add your comment

Eli

February 2nd, 2012
5:01 pm

The National Prayer Breakfast is a political event. What ever is said there will have a political context.

Centrist

February 2nd, 2012
5:02 pm

Obama has NEVER quit campaigning since 2007.

Where is the apology for the bogus reported Trump endorsement of Gingrich? According to Politico: at least one [unnamed] campaign reporter thinks part of the blame lays with the reporters themselves:

“Everyone cited Gingrich sources. No one cited Trump sources,” the reporter complained, via email. “The fact that these news orgs with egg on their face seem to be getting away with bad reporting by saying nothing more than ‘oops, oh well, moving on’ strikes me as a bad thing for journalism.”

Michael

February 2nd, 2012
5:08 pm

That’s exactly how I feel when conservatives quote the bible to support their economic or social policies. Evidently Jesus advocated capitalism, an invincible military and tax breaks for billionaires.

Eli

February 2nd, 2012
5:09 pm

Centrist,

Stop being a moron. No one ever stops campaigning. Get off your cross and make room for the next martyr.

JD

February 2nd, 2012
5:17 pm

Eli and Debbie have a point, Centrist.

Phil Gingrey’s departure and press release were, in and of themselves, campaign acts.

catlady

February 2nd, 2012
5:18 pm

Let’s “walk” Gingrey out of his cushy “job.” He is yet another embarrassment to Georgians!

Orange12

February 2nd, 2012
5:21 pm

Maybe it was in Farsi and Mr. Gingrey couldn’t understand it.

rural education

February 2nd, 2012
5:24 pm

Once an idiot always an idiot

Joe Mama

February 2nd, 2012
5:29 pm

Gingrey was afraid that black mooslim jesus would see him sitting there and would tell white christian jesus about it.

Native Atlanta

February 2nd, 2012
5:30 pm

Man oh man, Georgia just keeps digging the hole deeper and deeper……

Double Zero Eight

February 2nd, 2012
5:34 pm

And the republicans will have the nerve to go to the president
and urge him to support deepening the harbor in Savannah!
“Good luck with that.”

Road Scholar

February 2nd, 2012
5:39 pm

Centrist: I guess there was not enough room for Gingrich’s and Trump’s egos!

I’m undecided. Which is a more rude and dumb Congressman…Gingrey or Broun?

GaBlue

February 2nd, 2012
5:40 pm

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
It don’t mean much to Phil Gingrey!

mike

February 2nd, 2012
5:42 pm

I just love the way these morons are making Georgia history. Every act of disrespect just makes a point in this country’s history. What a way for these goobers to be remembered. You made the news and you showed the world what you are made of. Now go do something about the economy and the education in this country. That is what the people elected you to do. Not be a moron.

amazing

February 2nd, 2012
5:54 pm

Eli and Debra Dooley has said it all. There is really nothing to add after that!

Dirty Dawg

February 2nd, 2012
5:55 pm

Just how many idiot, wing-nut, Republican Congressmen from Georgia will we put up with before we do something about it? I’ve long since given up on their ‘base’ being embarrassed about them – you’ve got to have some basic human emotions, along with a conscience, in order to actually be capable of being embarrassed – plus Georgia’s so damned infested with ‘em I’m not really optimistic about any real change in what’s left of my lifetime. Gingrey…Price…Braun…Westmoreland…Kingston…you can count on every one of ‘em to do or say something stupid every few weeks or so, and their idiot peckerwood supporters are proud of it.

redneckbluedog

February 2nd, 2012
5:56 pm

The Republican party is straying from traditional Christian values faster than you can say Brigham Young…..

gm

February 2nd, 2012
5:59 pm

Another white conservative hypocrite, he rather listen to 3 times adultery, 30 page ethic violiations Newt , just when you think the klan and prior southeners filed with stupidity were worse here comes the new southnern rep conservatives””

Terry

February 2nd, 2012
6:07 pm

Phil,I am proud of you.s eems no one else has the guts

Rpaul

February 2nd, 2012
6:09 pm

If Gingrey didn’t have an agenda himself, why didn’t he stay?
The hatred for this president by the Republicans is frankly becoming annoying!

roughrider

February 2nd, 2012
6:13 pm

Gingrey showed a lack of class.

WAW

February 2nd, 2012
6:19 pm

Gingrey gets another 5 minutes of redneck glory that will probably make his redneck backers happy. Like to buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. Then I’d be in the 1%.

honested

February 2nd, 2012
6:20 pm

If only he’d have gotten in his car and driven all the way home……

Never to return…..

Georgia would be better off!

rod

February 2nd, 2012
6:21 pm

GM, how many adultries has your boy Clinton had?

rod

February 2nd, 2012
6:23 pm

GM, I am sorry. I left out impeached and dis-barred lawyer when referencing Clinton

Going Right

February 2nd, 2012
6:31 pm

Samuel Johnson, in among his many quotations, said: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
I think he had in mind the following:
-Michael @5:08
-Catlady(?) @5:18
-Joe Mama @5:29
-GaBlue @5:40
-Mike @5:42
-Amazing @5:54
-Dirty Dawg @5:55
-gm @5.59
-Rpaul @6:09
Samuel also wrote many children’s novels and comic books. If you’d like, I’ll give you the information that my uber-liberal and brain-dead neighbor said to let you know that they are available and that you folks would certtanly enjoy. They are filled with stories about the Good Fairy, The Tooth Fairy, The Democratic Party Fairies (a real hoot!) and lots more games, connect-the dots etc.

George

February 2nd, 2012
6:34 pm

I watched Obama’s so-called “prayer” address for about ten minutes on TV and finally turned it off. So it looks like we both got tired of hearing the same old, same old demagoguery. Just how many times did Obama say “I” this time? That pathetic community organizer is a one-act broken record…in many more ways than one.

Question Man

February 2nd, 2012
6:45 pm

Isn’t it safe to assume that Gingrey’s decision to walk out was a largely political act?

Real News

February 2nd, 2012
6:55 pm

First of all Obama is using his so-called Christianity for politics. Mainly his own communist policies of wealth re-distibution and his very selfish re-election campaign. Second Obama isn’t a Christian. Obama is a Muslim. Where was his National Easter Prayer for the Nation? But he celebrated Muslim holidays remember, and he bowed to the King of SA. Why because in Obama’s own religion of Islam all good muslims must bow to the KIng and protector of Mecca. And in Islam with their perverted religion they are allowed to lie to people to gain for Islam as Obama clearly is. This President is fuul of himself and is a muslim. Remember how taxpayer money Obama has given to the PLO, Hamas, Hezbullah, and the Mislim Brotherhood. Billions and Obama wants to give Egypt another billion to rebuild their Country.

redneckbluedog

February 2nd, 2012
6:58 pm

Real News
February 2nd, 2012
6:55 pm
First of all Obama is using his so-called Christianity for politics
————————————-
Republicans would NEVER do that….!!!! In fact, it is quite troublesome to me how many folks are ABANDONING THEIR FAITHS FOR THE SAKE OF POLITICS…!!!! It won’t end well…!!!!!

Orange12

February 2nd, 2012
7:00 pm

Enter your comments here

Martin Williams

February 2nd, 2012
7:06 pm

Gingery is a Catholic? I am a Catholic too since baptism at six months old and now I am sixty years old. A true christain not just catholics will respect other human beings. These Southern politicians are getting out of control. The GOP folks have done everything possible to make sure Obama fails so what folks. If Obama fails, it means America fails too but I GOP supporters are too stupid to understand that. Jimmy Carter was a one term president, big deal. Jimmy is still enjoying good life and protected by tax payers for the rest of his life. The same applies to Obama as their faimly will be protected even after one term till death. Your all remember, two term presidents Ronald Reagan left this country in deficit and so did Georgia W Bush. Only Bill Clinton left a surplus and that was just on paper and not physical cash. So, the gospel that we want Obama to be a one term president is completely stupid. You GOP folks truly DO NOT love this country. You all love your pockets and idealogies to be the rule of the land and that is not going to happen and you all better get used to Obama being still in the White House till January, 2016. As your candidate stated, he does not worry about the poor, the poor will teach you all a true lesson soon called American Spring just like the Arab Spring.

RaisedByWolves

February 2nd, 2012
7:06 pm

Gingrey is evil.

honested

February 2nd, 2012
7:07 pm

Someday I hope Georgia will elect respectable Congresspeople for the Etowah valley area again.

ab

February 2nd, 2012
7:07 pm

I hope “real news” is kidding. Hopefully no one is that dumb.

Auntie Christ

February 2nd, 2012
7:09 pm

When these conservative ‘christian’ yahoos hear a real Christian message, they can’t stand the heat. Their hypocrisy is exposed, so they have to divert the attention to theatrics, instead of the message and the messenger. Whom do you think Jesus respects more, the liberals with their notions of fairness, equality, world peace, and respect for their fellow humans, or the war mongering, hating hypocrites of the repugnant party, who love wars, repress freedom for women and minorities, and despise the poor. This scumbag gingrey and his fellow scumbags never walked out on a bush speech, full of lies about WMD’s,and fear mongering over mushroom clouds. We had 8 years of the biggest bunch of liars this country has ever seen, and this scumbag gingrey supported them 150%.

arnold

February 2nd, 2012
7:17 pm

The whole attitude of Gingrey is BS.

Real News

February 2nd, 2012
7:19 pm

ab, The only one that is that dumb are the ones that still believe in this Hope and Change lie from Obama. Obama is a disgrace as the president and I have lost all respect for him and the office. Simply put OBAMA = LIAR.

sheepdawg

February 2nd, 2012
7:20 pm

Gingrey is an idiot support by an electorate of idiots.

Real News

February 2nd, 2012
7:22 pm

Auntie Christ, You are being fooled by the left and their mouthpieces in the mainstreet media. Maybe you should get on your own knees and ask GOD for forgiveness. And I hope you do.

Real News

February 2nd, 2012
7:22 pm

sheepdawg, You’re name says it all about you and your remarks.

Real News

February 2nd, 2012
7:27 pm

The Liar in-chief Obama has to go.

Jaggar

February 2nd, 2012
7:30 pm

I don’t see anything wrong with walking out quietly if you don’t believe in or want to hear the same old rhetoric. He did not leave making a scene and the media has blown it out of perportion. Obama is not a Christian and his act to fit in to the role is tiresome. It is not disrespectful when you walk out quietly. I didn’t watch it more than 5 minutes.

ab

February 2nd, 2012
7:38 pm

I guess you really are, sorry.

RGB

February 2nd, 2012
7:45 pm

Good for Gingrey!

You can set your calendar to the time Obama finds “his faith”. It coincides with his re-election campaign.

And “Martin Williams”, you may have been baptized at age six but you were not a Christian at that age because you did not accept Christ as Savior at that time. Baptism in no way equates to Christianity any more than washing a car makes it a Christian. Baptism is a public profession of faith, of having asked Jesus Christ for forgiveness of one’s sins, and acceptance of Christ as Lord.

I won’t comment on your other ramblings but I did not want you to leave this blog without correcting your mistaken characterization of Christianity.

Going Right

February 2nd, 2012
7:47 pm

A(U)NTI-CHRIST; You need some serious counseling and a different prescriptive medications. You have flipped your lid and…and…, well nothing came out so I suppose that is one thing in your favor. I guess you are redneck enough to not understand that the term “scumbag” has some seriously negative and vitriolic meanings. But, as a Socialist Democrat you would rather surround yourself with your fecal matter and play tiddly-winks with condoms than to try and tell the truth yourself.

Shine

February 2nd, 2012
7:54 pm

A Kook walked out and showed his kookyness. Republicans have become even bigger whiners and crybabies than the Jesse Jackson brigade. Pathetic.

td

February 2nd, 2012
8:07 pm

Did not Obama tell the press that he walked out of all the services when Jeramiah Wright was saying all those nasty things about America?

ND

February 2nd, 2012
8:10 pm

I am not a Republican but I agree with Gingrey in this instance. Get religion out of politics. That goes for both parties. Keep your religion to yourself.

lucy shaw

February 2nd, 2012
8:11 pm

Politics and religion should never mix. All the religious, political posturing has become a joke and a bad one at that. Practice religion in church or at home – leave it there when it comes to running this country. Mr. Gingrey is a devout catholic and wanted to look into Obama’s heart? Gag.