At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington this week, President Barack Obama lauded faith and religious freedom. He noted, “[H]ere we put aside labels of party and ideology, and recall what we are first: all children of a loving God; brothers and sisters called to make His work our own. But in this work, as Lincoln said, our concern should not be whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side.”
After describing his own journey of faith, the President affirmed “the freedoms endowed by our Creator, among them freedom of religion” and turned specifically to international religious freedom challenges. He declared:
[H]istory shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people - including the freedom of religion - are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful. Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism. So freedom of religion matters to our national security…. As I’ve said before, there are times when we work with governments that don’t always meet our highest standards, but they’re working with us on core interests such as the security of the American people. At the same time, we also deeply believe that it’s in our interest, even with our partners, sometimes with our friends, to stand up for universal human rights. So promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy. And I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America.
The President highlighted a number of specific trials around the world, including the ongoing imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran, as well as challenges elsewhere in the Middle East, in China, in Burma, in North Korea, and in Africa.
President Obama concluded, “I want to ask you for your prayers as I continue in this awesome privilege and responsibility as President of the United States. May God bless the United States of America, and God bless all those who seek peace and justice.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: February 7, 2014