Obama @ Prayer Breakfast

Despite his hesitance to say anything “principled” ahead of Israel’s upcoming elections, President Obama today did remind us of a profound truth about all major faiths at this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast:

But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.
We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Torah commands, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” In Islam, there is a hadith that reads “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

While these humble, yet vital words are not getting much press, I am encouraged. Like his inaugural reference to “the slaughter of the innocents,” might today’s reference to all faiths having a shared humanity have an implied application to those who would turn their eyes away from the sufferings anywhere, including in Gaza?
Such ecumenical sentiments will not go down well with the “just warriors” and their media agents who have been so determined to launch crusades against “the jihadi religion.” Yes, the ironies in that statement are intended. In my experience, those “religious” figures most determined to do battle with another “jihadi” religion often seem themselves most determined to justify war in the name of their religion.
Yet just as each creed breeds its own jihadis, so too we can yearn for better angels to emerge. May they draw from within to build common ground in our shared humanity, our capacity for empathizing with the suffering of another, beyond creed and confession.
As the 13th Century Persian poet Sa’di put it, as etched into the walls of the United Nations:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

11 thoughts on “Obama @ Prayer Breakfast

  1. Craig

    Anyone who thinks that “There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being” must not be very familiar with that collection of texts that Christians call the Old Testament, and that Jews call the Tanakh. There are numerous examples in those texts of Jehovah calling for the extermination of whole populations merely for worshipping some other god. The Baghavad-Gita is also not exactly a bible of pacifism, nor the Quran, though both of those are a great deal more humanitarian than the Jewish holy books. Can we please start actually READING holy books rather than merely pontificating ignorantly about them?

  2. Salah

    Whatever humble words said by some,still it’s long way people needs to change their mindsets on both sides.
    You all remember Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Columbia University he faced by incredible hate and anger from a civilised society. Each one or group have her/his claims and reasons for their hatred and anger but did they really telling the real cause.
    Anyway its long road, hopefully Obama “humble words” the start of first step for hatred cleansing

  3. Salah

    Btw, take close look what this Game Close Combat: First to Fight all about and how much hatred against Islam, Muslims, their culture it’s on Sony play stations so your kids playing it.
    So Obama words here, but those kids feed by hatred every day of their life, who have the wisdom to tell and write on these matter.
    Anyway this not first game there are a series of games killing Arabs (enemy dressed by Arab dress) and more games still people young and older playing them.
    Calling for love and peace is not Holy books or religions matter its the culture that we living in and the surrounding that build more hatred.

  4. Jerry

    Maybe it would help if Mr Obama worked this message, framed as it is here, into his State of the Union address. It seems to me that humans spend far too much time looking for reasons to fight, as opposed to looking for reasons not to.

  5. scott h

    Craig reminds us too of the ways such religions get manipulated to justify even genocide.
    I am still reeling upon learning recently of how some twisted Christian Likudists were deeming the lives of Palestinians in Gaza to be forfeit, on some distorted line that they were descendants from Ishmael, alleged to descend from “bad Egyptian seed.” (e.g., that they by birth are not “innocent.” Yes, it’s sick thinking — not all that far from the perverted thinking behind the holocaust, no?)
    But just as I’d argue that the language of externmination is antithetical to the central to the message of Chrisitanity (my faith), so too do Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. philosophers reject the language of hate in their traditions. Each has within it foundations for bridgebuilding, seeds of thinking of human needs beyond the confines of confession.

  6. John Francis Lee

    Maybe it would help if Obama would start acting and stop talking. And if all of us would start watching what he does, or fails to do, and stop listening to all the static on the radio.
    Military Iraq withdrawal plans include 19-, 23-month options
    Responding to a request by President Barack Obama, top military and diplomatic advisers on Iraq have submitted a report to the White House that spells out the risks of drawing down U.S. forces in Iraq over periods as long as 23 months, two defense officials told McClatchy.
    The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists [as always].
    Throughout his campaign, Obama called for a 16-month withdrawal. Since he took office, however, his administration has said that it’s exploring several options, including a 16-month drawdown.
    His main activity seems to be slip sliding away.
    You know, the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away.
    Whoa oh God only knows, God makes his plan
    The information’s unavailable to the mortal man.
    We’re workin’ our jobs, collectin’ our pay,
    Believe we’re gliding down the highway,
    When in fact we’re slip sliding away.

  7. John Francis Lee

    Obama keeps Bush policies on faith-based groups
    President Barack Obama waded into the eternal debate over church and state on Thursday, creating his own White House council to provide government assistance to faith-based groups that help the poor.
    Obama left in place five executive orders signed by Bush that allow the groups receiving government funds to proselytize or refuse to hire non-believers. One, signed on Dec. 12, 2002, specifically decreed that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech meant that any group should be able to receive federal taxpayer money “without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression or religious character.”
    Obama, who quit his Chicago church after news media stories about inflammatory rhetoric by his pastor, has not yet decided which church in Washington to join, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday.
    I guess He just wanted to get you far enough out on the limb so you’d really notice when He let his Servant in the White House saw if out from underneath you Helena. It’s a message from the Lord : “Do not have false gods before me!”

  8. Shirin

    Jerry, I am not impressed by words, I am impressed by actions, and so far Obama’s actions do not impress in a positive way. My god, on his first day in office he approved actions that killed several Pakistani children.
    Want to explain to the survivors of those attacks, and others whose loved ones were lost in those attacks how this is change at all, let alone Change We Can Believe In™?
    As for his “actions” on Gaza, what actions?
    Let Obama stop talking now and start doing the right things.

  9. Salah

    might today’s reference to all faiths having a shared humanity have an implied application to those who would turn their eyes away from the sufferings anywhere, including in Gaza?
    Hummmm…
    US Congress introduces bill to punish UNRWA

    A bill has been introduced in Congress criticizing the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza.

    Let’s not forgot “God War” in Iraq

    4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows, 5 million orphans, about 1 million dead…..

    Invisible Blood: Willful Blindness and American War Crime
    Talking about Jihads and Islam, for those keep confused read this:‘Jihad’: idea and history

  10. Shirin

    Throughout his campaign, Obama called for a 16-month withdrawal. Since he took office, however, his administration has said that it’s exploring several options, including a 16-month drawdown.
    Obama NEVER called for a 16-month withdrawal. Not once. What he called for throughout his campaign was a 16-month drawdown. He NEVER said he would withdraw all troops within 16 months, he said he would withdraw “combat troops” within 16 months, leaving a “residual force” for an indefinite period, whose missions would include…………combat. All in the interest of “guarding U.S. interests” in Iraq.
    Obama is a politician. A very attractive politician, but a politician first and foremost.

  11. Don Bacon

    The simple fact is that most Christian churches all across the land have for years been promoting national unity, advocating church/nation union, with calls for “supporting the troops” involved in aggression against the people of foreign countries, including the wanton killing of anyone associated with, or even in the vicinity of, any opposition to the brutal US military occupation of their countries.

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