Obama sticks to Easter in his weekend radio message. GOP, not so much.

Democrat and Republican leaders have different ways of voicing their support for Christians and Jews celebrating Easter and Passover. Sincere or not, some of that is political.

Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS
President Obama pauses during remarks about the Passover Eve killings of three people at two Jewish community centers in the Kansas City area, during an Easter prayer breakfast in the East Room of the White House April 14, 2014.

This being an important religious weekend for Christians and Jews, President Obama took a break from his typically-partisan Saturday radio address to offer Easter and Passover greetings.

Sen. Lamar Alexander on behalf of the Republican Party? Not so much.

“These holy days have their roots in miracles that took place long ago,” Obama said. “And yet, they still inspire us, guide us, and strengthen us today. They remind us of our responsibilities to God and, as God’s children, our responsibilities to one another. “

Sen. Alexander declared that “lifting the big wet blanket of Obama regulations will enable our free enterprise system to create plenty of jobs.”

Obama observed that “The common thread of humanity that connects us all – not just Christians and Jews, but Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs – is our shared commitment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”

“To remember, I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper,” he continued. “Whatever your faith, believer or nonbeliever, there’s no better time to rededicate ourselves to that universal mission.”

(What it means to be “my brother’s keeper” no doubt differs between pro-government progressives and anti-government conservatives.)

Alexander talked about the Affordable Care Act.

“Health care provides the most glaring difference between Republican enablers and Democrat mandators,” he said. “Too often, Obamacare cancels the policy you wanted to keep and tells you what policy to buy, even if it costs more and even if it restricts your choices of doctors and hospitals.”

“Republicans believe that freedom and more choices will empower you to find a policy that fits your needs and your budget,” the Tennessee Republican said.

Alexander did add a postscript appropriate to the season: “Thank you and very best wishes on this Easter weekend.”

It’s not that Republicans are irreligious – far from it, at least in terms of church attendance, according to polls. They’re more likely to attend regular religious services than Democrats.

It’s just that when you’re out of power – lost five out of the last six presidential votes – you’re a little more inclined to go after the guy in the White House. And this is an election year with the GOP eyeing a possible takeover of Senate control.

Sen. Alexander may have stuck to the Republican script in his radio address Saturday. But that doesn’t mean the GOP was slighting Easter and Passover.

“As Jewish families mark the start of Passover, I wish them a blessed celebration, surrounded by loved ones at the Seder table,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement this week.

He continued: “The Passover story is one of triumph over oppression. It is a time to commemorate the ancient story of the Exodus and to celebrate the rich traditions that have endured for millennia. The message of hope and of faithfulness resonates to this day. And as we mark the occasion here in America, we’re also mindful of Jewish families celebrating around the world, especially in Israel, our ally with whom we stand for the timeless values of freedom and liberty.”

(Oddly enough, there is no comparable Easter message on the RNC web site as there has been in past years, although the other day Mr. Priebus did tweet: “Today, we meditate on those most universal of human values: Peace, grace, and love. The joy of Easter will follow the pain of Good Friday.”)

It may not be the first thing on their mind, but any politician who talks about “our ally” Israel – or who hosts a Passover Seder at the White House, as Obama has done every year since he took office – is making a political statement.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.