Obama Urges Faith to Unite, Not Divide, Americans

February 5, 2009

Author: Adelle M. Banks

Source: Religion News Service


Addressing the National Prayer Breakfast for the first time, President Obama urged Americans to bridge religious divides and said his administration would seek to "foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith."

"There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same," he said Thursday (Feb. 5), speaking to thousands of religious and political leaders in a hotel ballroom.

"We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. ... 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."

Obama, who also announced an overhaul of President Bush's faith-based initiative into the new White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said he is not naive about making divisions disappear quickly.

"But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, and if perhaps we allow God's grace to enter into that space that lies between us, then the old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge," he said.

"In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of excessive zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding. This is my hope. This is my prayer."