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President Obama Speaks at National Prayer Breakfast E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Thursday, 02 February 2012

Is it February already? That can only mean one thing: it's time for the National Prayer Breakfast. As in past years, President Obama spoke. You can watch the video here. The transcript is here. Some highlights:

On the role of faith in governing, I especially liked his emphasis on motivation. Faith might not dictate our policy answers to problems, but it may compel us to want to solve them in the first place:

[I]n my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others.  

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.  Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel -- 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 -- sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.

On the role of faith in politics he says, rightly, that Christianity comes in all political persuasions.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Christianity has not, and does not profess to have a detailed political program.  It is meant for all men at all times, and the particular program which suited one place or time would not suit another.”

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.  (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.  And I have to say that sometimes we talk about respect, but we don’t act with respect towards each other during the course of these debates.

 
 
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