Obama condemns those who seek to ‘hijack religion’

Obama prayer breakfast 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday condemned those who seek to use religion as a rationale for carrying out violence around the world, declaring that “no god condones terror.”

“We are summoned to push back against those who would distort our religion for their nihilistic ends,” Obama said during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. He singled out the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, calling the militants a “death cult,” as well as those responsible for last month’s terror attacks in Paris and deadly assault on a school in Pakistan.

Obama offered a special welcome to a “good friend,” the Dalia Lama, seated at a table in front of the dais among the audience of 3,600. Earlier Obama, seated at the head table, pressed his hands together in a prayer-like position and bowed his head toward the Dalai Lama, then gave him a wave and a broad smile.

It was the first time the president and the Tibetan Buddhist leader attended the same public event, with China objecting to foreign leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama because of his quest for greater Tibetan autonomy from Beijing. Obama’s three previous meetings with the Dalai Lama have been private because of the sensitivity of the situation.

But in a show of White House support for the Dalai Lama, he was seated at a table with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Actor Richard Gere, a friend and follower of the Dalai Lama, was also nearby. Meanwhile, outside, hundreds of demonstrators banged drums and waved Tibetan flags under heavy police presence.

The Dalai Lama fled to exile in India after a failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. Obama on Thursday called him “a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion and who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings.”

The president joked that it’s a rare event that can bring together the Dalai Lama and NASCAR, after retired driver and commentator Darrell Waltrip gave the keynote address. Waltrip told how he had accepted Jesus Christ as his savoir after a 1993 crash left him wondering what would happen if he died.

“If you’ve never gotten on your knees and asked him to forgive you of your sins, you’re just a pretty good guy or a pretty good gal? You’re going to go to hell,” Waltrip said.

Obama had a more non-denominational message for the audience that also included prominent leaders of non-Christian faiths. The president said that while religion is a source for good around the world, people of all faiths have been willing to “hijack religion for their own murderous ends.”

“Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

“So it is not unique to one group or one religion,” Obama said. “There is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”

Obama called for all people of faiths to show humility about their beliefs and reject the idea that “God speaks only to us and doesn’t speak to others.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II canceled plans to attend the breakfast after Islamic State militants released a video this week showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned to death. In his place, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Wisc., offered prayers for Jordan and read the New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan who saved a stranger who had been beaten and left for dead.


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15 Replies to “Obama condemns those who seek to ‘hijack religion’”

  1. Interesting that Waltrip chooses to insult so many right to their faces. Specially since Christ says right out that he will not judge anyone who chooses not to follow him.

  2. Dalia Lama? spell check…
    The real problem is each of the 3 Abrahamic religions attempting to impose their version of god on the rest of us. Outside Islam, euro-Christianity and Judaism, religious violence is not a threat.

    I personally believe the ritual killing of a male leader in matriarchal societies was designed to keep hyper-aggressive males from damaging the larger society.

  3. I can’t wait to hear the teavangelists having hissies about bowing his head to the Dalai Lama and mentioning the Christian rationale for slavery & Jim Crow. I like this ‘take no shit & to hell with what the Repubs think’ Obama.

  4. It is more important than ever to waken up every American to the truth of what is happening to the national well being by the plans that the Republicans propose. Tax reform and straightening out Medicaid would be good, but no plan is no plan. This is just more political talk to tame the masses and promise, promise/WITH NO DELIVERY.

  5. Throughout history, religious self-righteousness and intolerance have led to wars and inhumane acts against those who do not share the cultural and dogmatic theological views of the aggressors.

    Muslims have persecuted and killed Christians, and vice versa.
    Jews have persecuted and killed Muslims, and vice versa.
    Catholics have persecuted and killed Protestants, and vice versa.
    Hindus have persecuted and killed Muslims, and vice versa.
    Christians have persecuted and killed Jews, and … well, not so much vice versa.

    And each group has proclaimed — and continues to proclaim — with absolute certainty that God is on their side … which is why I prefer to not equate spirituality with organized religion.

  6. He could have used the KKK as an example and maybe should have as that is a recent terrorist group claiming to be Christian.

    There are forces in the USA that want him to declare a war on Islam and put in US troops on the ground.

    President Obama’s strategy with respect to ISIS is to provide air and technical support for local troops. That doesn’t work if you declare war on Islam. Unfortunately, so far, I haven’t heard much support for Obama’s statements. I’ve heard how dare he say something bad about Christians, how dare he say what true religion is, and let’s not talk about that now. I hope some Christian leaders will stand up for the Pesident’s statements.

    This isn’t an acedemic discussion about religion. It’s an argument about near term foreign policy.

  7. Patton, first off stop besmirching the name of a Good patriotic yet quirky general. My father served in his command. Second, what can I say but the FACT that you are an idiot!….or just your typical conservative hatemonger. And that moron Joey Scarboro mocked the president honoring the Dali Lama and called Obama a “pseudo Christian”…Joe Scar, is a pseudo human.

  8. Why is the government even having a “prayer breakfast”? Government shouldn’t be involving itself in what is primarily a religious practice. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus said:
    “When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.”

    Our founders understood correctly that religion and government should be kept separate. Hence, the First Amendment.

    The prayer breakfast should be ended. The Office of Faith-Based Initiatives should be disbanded. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act should be repealed. SCOTUS should overturn its Greece, NY decision, Its Boston’s domestic terrorists’ freedom decision, and its Hobby Lobby decision.

    None of these protect citizens’ safety or happiness. Government needs to cleanse itself of its contamination with religion.

  9. David, you got it! If I were POTUS first I would NOT swear in on ANY book of fantasy. I would use Darwins Origin of the Species or Carl Sagan’s book Cosmos. And there would be NO PRAYER Breakfasts!!!. We must lead sanely and in a secular fashion from the very top! Only when religious faith is relegated to the dustbin of history will we truly be and “Enlightened Human Race”


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