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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Andy Stanley Explains 'Pastor in Chief' Quote

  • Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2013 Jan 28
  • Comments

Last week, Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley preached at President Barack Obama's pre-inaugural church service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., during which he said the president should be called "pastor in chief" for his leadership following the Newtown shooting. After Stanley's remarks caused a whirlwind of criticism, he responded in an interview with Christianity Today, saying his comments were taken out of context. "[At the pre-inaugural service] I knew that I didn't want to get up and just launch into a sermon," Stanley said. "When you're in an environment where you have no personal connection with anyone in the room -- and I certainly didn't -- as  a speaker, you want to find a personal connection. I thought, 'Well, here is something that I felt deeply and here we have all these clergy on this stage.' So I said something like, 'Mr. President, I don't know the first thing about being president, but I know a bit about being a pastor. And during the Newtown vigil on December 16 after we heard what you did -- I just want to say on behalf of all of us as clergy, thank you.' And I added, 'I turned to [my wife] Sandra that night and said, "Tonight he's the pastor in chief."' So that's the context. I wasn't making a declaration that he's our pastor in chief. But I can understand how that got reported."