President Obama suggested that people of faith should focus more on helping the poor, instead of focusing on divisive issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
During a panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, Obama specifically referred to his own Christian faith, pointing out that he recognized the importance speaking out about the issue as president.
“I think it would be powerful for our faith-based organizations to speak out on this in a more forceful fashion,” he said, admitting that his wish might sound “self-interested” because he had disagreements with Christian and Catholic organizations about gay marriage and abortion.
“There is great caring and great concern, but when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what’s the defining issue … this is often times viewed as a ‘nice to have’ relative to an issue like abortion,” Obama said.
He argued that churches should spend more time pursuing “powerful” ideas such as helping those in poverty in order to attract more followers.
“Nobody has shown that better than Pope Francis, who I think has been transformative just through the sincerity and insistence that this is vital to who we are, this is vital to following what Jesus Christ our Savior talked about.”
Obama added that he hoped that the American people received that message when Pope Francis visits the United States in September.
“I can’t wait to host him because I think it will help to spark an even broader conversation of the sort we are having today,” Obama concluded.