Christian faith and values call for bold action, President says...
President Obama on Thursday morning made a faith-based case for his economic policies while speaking at the annual National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton. He said that his Christianity has guided his decisions to push for tougher regulation, tax reform and economic equality and changes to the US healthcare system as the Nation has struggled through devastating challenges. (Above: The President during his remarks)
"We can all benefit from turning to our Creator, listening to Him. Avoiding phony religiosity, listening to Him," President Obama said.
"We can't leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union."
The President was joined by First Lady Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the bipartisan 8:00 AM event for about 3,000 Christian lawmakers, CEOS, lobbyists and faith leaders in the ballroom. It was Mr. Obama's third breakfast as a President, and he attended as a Senator.
"It has always been an opportunity I've cherished," he said)
The President noted that he says a brief prayer each morning, and spends time studying scripture.
After arriving to a standing ovation, the President was seated at the head table, with Mrs. Obama at his left, and Sen. Jeff Sessions on his right. Biden, Senators Mark Pryor, Tom Coburn (PK) and Daniel Akaka (HI) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Reps. Paul Broun (GA) and Mike McIntyre (NC).
"We can’t leave our values at the door," President Obama said. "The majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action."
He said his efforts to regulate financial institutions, require insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and to tighten rules for lenders come from his strong faith.
"I do so because I genuinely believe it'll make the economy stronger for everybody, but I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years. And I believe in God's command to love thy neighbor as thyself," he said.
"This is especially important now when we're facing some big challenges as a nation, our economy is making progress as we recover from the worst crisis in generations. But far too many families are still struggling to find work or make the mortgage or pay for college and in some cases even buy food."
The breakfast is organized by Members of the US Congress and members of The Fellowship Foundation, a semi-secret and powerful coalition of conservative Christians (so secret that they have no website for their organization, nor is there one for the event). Every sitting president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has attended the National Prayer Breakfasts. (Above: The President and Mrs. Obama at the head table)
The President added that while driven by faith, his policies are not ordained by God.
"Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us. Michelle reminds me of this often," he said, to laughter.
"So instead, it is our hope that people of goodwill can pursue their values and common ground and the common good as best they know how, with respect for each other."
He pointed to Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Abraham Heschel as leaders who used faith principles to "create a more perfect union."
The President received a standing ovation as he finished. The full transcript of his remarks.
Author Eric Metaxas
was the keynote speaker at the breakfast, and presented the President
with a copy of his bestselling book "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr,
The President and Mrs. Obama returned to the White House at 9:46 AM.
UPDATE: The White House video of the President's remarks, formerly in the box below, has been disabled by the White House for an unknown reason.
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House