President Obama made Republican heads explode today at the National Prayer breakfast as he debunked with years worth of lies that have been uttered about him and his presidency.
THE PRESIDENT: Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan. In Isaiah, we’re told “to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” The Torah commands: “Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Koran instructs: “Stand out firmly for justice.” So history 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. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.)
It is not always comfortable to do, but it is right. When I meet with Chinese leaders — and we do a lot of business with the Chinese, and that relationship is extraordinarily important not just to our two countries but to the world — but I stress that realizing China’s potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims. (Applause.)
When I meet with the President of Burma, a country that is trying to emerge out of a long darkness into the light of a representative government, I’ve said that Burma’s return to the international community depends on respecting basic freedoms, including for Christians and Muslims. I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror. I’ve put the weight of my office behind the efforts to protect the people of Sudan and South Sudan, including religious minorities.
As we support Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in direct talks, we’ve made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths. I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East. Thank you, John. (Applause.)
More broadly, I’ve made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they’re Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, or Baha’i in Iran, or Coptic Christians in Egypt. And in Syria, it means ensuring a place for all people — Alawites and Sunni, Shia and Christian.
Going forward, we will keep standing for religious freedom around the world. And that includes, by the way, opposing blasphemy and defamation of religion measures, which are promoted sometimes as an expression of religion, but, in fact, all too often can be used to suppress religious minorities. (Applause.) We continue to stand for the rights of all people to practice their faiths in peace and in freedom. And we will continue to stand against the ugly tide of anti-Semitism that rears it’s ugly head all too often.
The right wants you to believe that President Obama is out to destroy religious freedom, but this speech demonstrates that is not the case. This president is committed to protecting religious freedom at home and around the world. The difference between the president and the Republicans is in their definitions of religious freedom. Republicans have concocted a definition of religious freedom that is based around social issues. They have made same sex marriage and contraception issues of religious freedom, when these social questions have nothing to do with the freedom to practice a religion. Obama’s definition is centered around the freedom each of us has to practice, or not practice a religion.
Many Republicans also believe that Obama is not a Christian. Well, the president once again put a stake in the heart of that one with his remarks today. Everyone should know that Barack Obama is a Christian, but the myth that he is some sort of secret Muslim continues to thrive in right wing circles.
The final Republican talking point that Obama wiped out is their claim that he hates Israel. The president not only mentioned the ongoing peace talks, but specifically mentioned standing up against anti-Semitism. All of the major dirty little faith based smears that Republicans use to motivate the religious right, and attack this president were dealt with today.
Obama showed Republican hypocrites a thing or two about real faith. If they were capable of actual growth as human beings, they would listen closely and learn something from this president.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association