At Thursday's annual National Prayer
Breakfast, President Barack Obama chided leaders who use religion to
The Washington tradition, which dates
back to 1953, has been attended by every president since Dwight D.
“Yet even as our faith sustains us,
it's also clear that around the world freedom of religion is under
threat,” Obama said. “And that is what I want to reflect on this
morning. We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence
against the faithful. We sometimes see religion twisted in an
attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just
because of who they are, or how they pray or who they love. Old
tensions are stoked, fueling conflicts along religious lines, as
we've seen in the Central African Republic recently, even though to
harm anyone in the name of faith is to diminish our own relationship
with God. Extremists succumb to an ignorant nihilism that shows they
don't understand the faiths they claim to profess – for the killing
of the innocent is never fulfilling God's will; in fact, it’s the
ultimate betrayal of God's will.”
“Nations that uphold the rights of
their people – including the freedom of religion – are ultimately
more just and more peaceful,” he added.
Obama called on the faithful to help
“advance human rights” and combat HIV/AIDS.