President Obama once again used the National Prayer Breakfast to promote his political agenda. Though he was careful not to mention the Crusades this time, the president once again raised the specter of Islamophobia and urged Christians not to give into "fear."
In his remarks, Obama suggested that many Americans have allowed themselves to be "consume[d]" by the "fear" of those who are different from them (think: immigrants, particularly ones from the Middle East).
"Fear can lead us to lash out against those who are different, or lead us to try to get some sinister ‘other’ under control," he said.
If we give into this fear, he suggested, we are in danger of committing atrocities worse than the terrorists.
"If we let it consume us, the consequences of that fear can be worse than any outward threat," he said.
Though Obama admitted that he also "known fear," he (unlike so many Americans) has been able to overcome it, just like Christ would have him do.
"Like every president, like every leader, like every person, I’ve known fear. But my faith tells me that I need not fear death, that acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins," he said.
Jesus, he said, was the "cure for fear" and the way we can reject the "selfishness" fear engenders and embrace true "generosity."
"I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and generosity," said the president.
In his much-maligned 2015 National Prayer Breakfast speech, Obama used the moment to urge Americans to get off their "high horse" about radical Islam by comparing the horrific actions of radical Islamists to the actions of Christians during the Crusades and the Jim Crow era.
"Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history," said Obama. "And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."
Partial transcript via Charlie Spiering.
Image (AP): President Barack Obama closes his eyes while a prayer is made at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.