No Pious Baloney: Eric Metaxas at the annual National Prayer Breakfast

by Emily Belz

Eric Metaxas brings down the house with an aggressive attack on ‘phony religiosity’ at the annual National Prayer Breakfast

Speakers at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in the nation’s capital usually keep their talks diplomatic. After all, the room is filled with ambassadors, lawmakers from both parties, Cabinet members, and people of various faiths from around the world.

But Eric Metaxas, the featured speaker Thursday morning and the author of biographies on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, talked to an audience of 4,000 important people about false religion, human depravity, poverty, slavery, and abortion. But the New York author delivered his sharp commentary with his trademark wit, which kept the audience roaring with laughter. (See below for video of the event.)

The halls of the Washington Hilton, the hotel that hosts the breakfast, were buzzing afterward as people discussed the speech—Metaxas’ speech, not President Obama’s, which followed. Outside the hotel, a protestor asked, “Is it true what I’m hearing, that Eric Metaxas talked about Jesus?” 

It was true. At one point, Metaxas led those in attendance in the singing of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” and the president joined in. The author attacked “phony religiosity,” which he struggled through as an agnostic studying at Yale before he became a Christian. (See “Eric Metaxas’ early spiritual mentor.”)

“Jesus was and is the enemy of dead religion,” Metaxas said. “He came to deliver us from that.” Prayer emanates from “real faith in God,” he said, adding that faith in Jesus leads to courageous acts like those of Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce. 

At one point Metaxas handed his biographies on Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer to Obama, mentioning that President George W. Bush had read the Bonhoeffer book. “No pressure,” Metaxas added…




Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (*Editor’s pick)

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask)

The Poached Egg Apologetics