President Barack Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, speaking about the need to overcome fear through faith, just one day after making a historic visit to a Baltimore mosque where he delivered a message of religious inclusivity.
“Fear can lead us to lash out against those who are different or lead us to try to get some sinister ‘other’ under control,” said Obama, making a veiled reference to divisive rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail.
“Alternatively, fear can lead us to succumb to despair or paralysis or cynicism,” he said. “Fear can feed our most selfish impulses and erode the bonds of community.”
However, he said, “Faith is the great cure for fear.”
These fears, Obama said with a hint of regret, include the fear of children growing up “too fast.”
“They’re leaving!” he said, smiling. The Obamas’ oldest daughter, Malia, is heading off to college in the fall.
Obama also praised faith groups for their work on a variety of issues, from combating trafficking to welcoming and supporting refugees, and celebrated the return of pastor Saeed Abedini, who was recently released from an Iranian prison.
“Last year we prayed that he might be freed and this year we give thanks that he is home safe,” said Obama.
The full transcript of the address is here, which has this passage, which may surprise some people:
For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear. And what more important moment for that faith than right now? What better time than these changing, tumultuous times to have Jesus standing beside us, steadying our minds, cleansing our hearts, pointing us towards what matters.
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