President Barack Obama addressed the 60th annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, February 2nd, with a message about his own personal Christian faith and a vision for our nation anchored in the values that enable us to face our challenges and move forward greater together. “We can’t leave our values at the door,” the President said. “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.”
The President spoke about the ways in which the values of fairness, compassion, and shared responsibility have guided him not just in his private life, but in his public life and leadership of our nation. “I’d be remiss if…my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try – imperfectly, but I must try – to make sure those values motivate me as one leaders of this great nation.” His actions back up his words. The President’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been busy at work empowering religious and community organizations to improve low-income schools, create social networks to help people find jobs, increase access to vital healthcare and nutrition services, ensure our veterans are employed and promote strong fatherhood. President Obama has also increased funding to Catholic charity organizations and provided grants to organizations like World Vision, American Jewish World Service and Islamic Relief for life-saving aid across the world.
President Obama’s values greatly inform his prioritization of policies that augment the impact of faith-based and community organizations throughout the country. His values also guide his approach to issues like expanding opportunity for all, protecting the most vulnerable, and making sure our housing and financial sectors are working for Americans rather than against them. The President reiterated this in his remarks. "Treating others as you want to be treated. Requiring much from those who have been given so much. Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper. Caring for the poor and those in need…Today, with as many challenges as we face, these are the values I believe we’re going to have to return to in the hopes that God will buttress our efforts.”
The President closed by reflecting upon a moving personal encounter with The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham: “I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment -- asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong. I know that He will guide us. He always has, and He always will. And I pray his richest blessings on each of you in the days ahead.”