At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington this week, President Barack Obama highlighted acts of good motivated by faith, as well as the use of religion for violence. He stated, “We see faith driving us to do right,” particularly noting the work of Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who was stationed in Liberia for NRB Member Samaritan’s Purse to combat the outbreak of that deadly disease. The President then turned his focus:
But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge -- or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. 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 Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism…. 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.
To combat such practices, the President prescribed the embrace of humility, separation between church and state, and the Golden Rule. Moreover, he declared, “[H]ere at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom -- freedom of religion -- the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: February 6, 2015