President Obama spoke at his sixth National Prayer Breakfast this morning, highlighting the diversity of the community of the faithful and his discussions with many faith leaders, including on issues such as climate change.
The breakfast, he told attendees, was an opportunity to “put aside labels of party and ideology and (be) what we are first, children of a loving god.” The event was hosted by the bipartisan duo of Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Janice Hahn (D-CA). President Obama made a point to reiterate the universality of faith and noted the many ways in which people practice faith. In his address, the president explained how he had experienced faith and its power throughout the world, from Jerusalem to Istanbul to Bangkok.
The president also emphasized dialogue among those of any religious persuasion to bring peace and tolerance to the world. Among the issues necessary to discuss between faith leaders, the President noted, was climate change.
President Obama also emphasized the danger of religious intolerance and called on world leaders to uphold human rights, citing specific religious prisoners of conscience as those that need prayer the most. He suggested it was “clear” that religious freedom was in danger on a global scale, and world leaders needed to work to combat religious violence and intolerance. He himself, the president noted, was meeting with international leaders as a diplomatic imperative for the United States to promote tolerance and “nurture” dialogue.
In addition to the president’s speech, the National Prayer Breakfast’s keynote was delivered by Rajiv Shah, the administrator of USAID whose mission is to deliver humanitarian aid and foster respect for human rights abroad. Shah took to the stage to call for tolerance, as well as the eradication of “extreme poverty” worldwide. The breakfast was attended by hundreds of guests and two heads of state.