WASHINGTON — During the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington on Thursday, Barack Obama spoke against violence committed in the name of religion, and stated that Christians have been just as guilty as Muslims and other terror groups of this crime.
“It’s not unique to one group or one religion,” he said. “There is a tendency in us—a sinful tendency—that can pervert and distort our faith.”
“From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for their faith—profess to stand up for Islam—but are in fact betraying it,” Obama outlined. “We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.”
But Obama stated that while America may look to other countries and religions as being shameful for committing violence in the name of their religion, he suggested that Christians had an oppressive and violent history themselves.
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” he said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Obama opined that no singular religion should think that they have the truth and others don’t.
“I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt, not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth,” he said.
Obama later quoted from various religious texts in an effort to demonstrate that all religions advocate for peace, and also praised the Dalai Lama, who was present at the event, as well as the Roman Catholic Pontiff Francis.
“[T]his is the loving message of His Holiness, Pope Francis,” he stated. “And like so many people around the world, I’ve been touched by his call to relieve suffering, and to show justice and mercy and compassion to the most vulnerable; to walk with the Lord and ask, ‘Who am I to judge?'”
“Each of us has a role in fulfilling our common, greater purpose—not merely to seek high position, but to plumb greater depths so that we may find the strength to love more fully,” Obama continued. “And this is perhaps our greatest challenge: to see our own reflection in each other; to be our brother’s keepers and sister’s keepers, and to keep faith with one another.”
But some expressed concern over the president’s remarks, especially his comments about Christianity.
“The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) told reporters. “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”