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NEWS BRIEFS: Obama hosts Easter breakfast

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Obama said April 19 he hosts an Easter prayer breakfast because it is a reminder there is “something about the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective.”

Obama made the comments to a gathering of Christian leaders, members of his administration and at least one member of Congress gathered in the White House. It is the second consecutive year the White House has held an Easter prayer breakfast, and the president said he intends to make it a yearly event during his administration.

Among the guests were Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright and his wife, Anne. Wright is pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.

In remarks of less than six minutes, Obama briefly described the events in the week leading to the crucifixion, adding, “[W]e’re reminded that in that moment, He took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and He extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through His death and resurrection.”

This grace, Obama said, calls him to reflect, pray, “to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others” and “to praise God for the gift of … His Son and our Savior.”

Others attending the breakfast, according to the White House, included Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potters’ House in Dallas, Texas, also spoke at the breakfast, according to Christianity Today.

FOURTH ‘NARNIA’ FILM IN THE WORKS — Officials with Walden Media, the production company that made the first three “Chronicles of Narnia” films, say they will make a fourth one based on C.S. Lewis’ book, “The Magician’s Nephew.” If they had gone in chronological order, the next film would have been based on “The Silver Chair,” because it follows Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” — the most recent movie. But a movie based on The Magician’s Nephew will make for a better film, they say.

“It’s a creative decision in terms of what story we felt has the best opportunity to draw the largest audience,” Walden Media president Micheal Flaherty told ChristianityToday.com. “The box office has pretty closely followed the sales pattern of the books. Prince Caspian sells about half of the books of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, and it did about half of the box office. Caspian sells about a third more books than Dawn Treader, and it did about a third more box office. That pattern continues to decline with Silver Chair being the weakest book in the series in terms of consumer demand.

“We just think the origin tale of The Magician’s Nephew is a great one, and it brings back the characters that have proven to be the most popular — a lot of Aslan and the White Witch. It explains the origin of the lamppost and the wardrobe. The order of these books is something that few people agree on anyway. While Silver Chair certainly continues Eustace’s adventure, we never knew when Magician’s Nephew would come in the sequence of films. We never assumed it would be last, and we never assumed it would be first.”

Dawn Treader’s box office numbers didn’t live up to expectations in the United States but were impressive overseas.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMBASSADOR CONFIRMED BY SENATE — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Suzan Johnson Cook as ambassador at large for religious freedom more than two years after President Obama took office.

Senators approved the former New York City pastor in a voice vote April 14. Obama nominated her to the post in June 2010, but her nomination never moved out of a Senate committee last year. He sent her nomination to a new Senate in February.

When Johnson Cook was first nominated to the post, some advocates on the issue said she lacked experience on religious freedom and foreign policy issues, The Washington Post reported.

The ambassador at large for international religious freedom heads a State Department office that monitors religious persecution and discrimination overseas, makes policy recommendations regarding regions or countries, and seeks to advance religious liberty. The ambassador also serves as a non-voting member of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan panel that reports to Congress and the executive branch on global religious freedom.

Johnson Cook, 54, served as senior pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Church from 1996 to 2009. She was a member of former President Clinton’s seven-member advisory panel on race.

In January 2010, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land and six other religious liberty advocates wrote Obama to urge him to appoint someone to the post after he failed to do so in his first year in the White House. Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a USCIRF commissioner.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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