1. News & Issues
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

The Obama Easter Proclamation Controversy

By

Obama on Easter

President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 25, 2011.

Pool/Getty Images
Updated April 27, 2011

President Barack Obama did not issue an Easter proclamation paying homage to the sacred Christian holiday in 2011, an omission that drew criticism from outspoken political opponents and conservative pundits.

See also: Was the Easter Egg Roll Really Outlawed by Congress?

"President Obama failed to release a statement or a proclamation recognizing the national observance of Easter Sunday, Christianity's most sacred holiday," Fox Nation reported. "By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays and released statements in 2010 on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha."

In August 2010, for example, the White House released the following statement: "On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I want to extend our best wishes to Muslims in America and around the world. Ramadan Kareem."

In November 2010, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama issued this statement: "Michelle and I extend our greetings for a happy Eid-ul-Adha to Muslims worldwide and wish safe travels to those performing Hajj."

So why no Obama Easter proclamation?

Is Obama Alone in Skipping Easter Proclamation?

Critics fail to mention two key points in the Obama Easter proclamation story: that no other modern president has issued an Easter proclamation, according to historical records, and that Obama did actually focus on Easter during his weekly radio address and Easter Prayer Breakfast before the holiday.

See also: Why do Americans Think Obama is a Muslim?

"This is a time of year when people get together with family and friends to observe Passover and to celebrate Easter," Obama said on the day before Easter. "It's a chance to give thanks for our blessings and reaffirm our faith, while spending time with the people we love. We all know how important that is - especially in hard times. And that's what a lot of people are facing these days."

Obama did not issue an official Easter proclamation. But according to The American Presidency Project, a University of California at Santa Barbara effort to track all presidential proclamations, no president in at least three decades has issued an Easter proclamation. Not Obama predecessor George W. Bush. Not his father George H.W. Bush. Not Bill Clinton. Not even Ronald Reagan.

What a Proclamation Is

A presidential proclamation is defined as "an instrument that states a condition, declares a law and requires obedience, recognizes an event or triggers the implementation of a law." Proclamations are often issued by presidents on special days or events such as Thanksgiving, Earth Day or National Park Week.

White House Defends Lack of Obama Easter Proclamation

In a press briefing after Easter, White House press secretary Jay Carney defending the lack of an Easter proclamation by Obama when pressed by a reporter.

"You guys traditionally put out statements or proclamations on various religious holidays and I don't think I saw one from the president on Easter yesterday and was just wondering if there's any reason one didn't go out," the reporter said.

Responded Carney: "You know, the president went to the church yesterday; it was well covered. I'm not sure if we put out a statement or not, but he obviously personally celebrated Easter with his family and went to church to celebrate that. And ..."

The reporter continued: "Wait a minute. The highest Christian holiday and you don't know if he put out a statement?"

Carney fired back: "I'm glad you're asking these key important questions, guys. The fact is, the president took his family to church in a very high-profile way to celebrate Easter. I think it was highly visible to most Americans. And he - as a devoted Christian, he believes it's a very important holiday for him personally, for his family and for Christians around the country."

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.