Obama shifts focus to religious liberty and Muslims

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/02/08/obama-shifts-focus-to-religious-liberty-and-muslims/

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama focused on religious pluralism during the past several days, bookending the annual National Prayer Breakfast Thursday in the nation’s capital with a visit to a mosque Wednesday and a column discussing religious freedom in America published Saturday.

In the column, signed by the president and published by Religion News ServiceObama revealed his longing to improve relations between Muslim Americans and their neighbors. He called on the country to “embrace our common humanity” – asking Americans not to target Islam’s believers and asking Muslims to publicly condemn extremist ideologies and terrorism.

“Since 9/11, however, and more recently since the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, some have blamed the horrific acts of a few on the broader Muslim community,” the president wrote, echoing the tenor of his prayer breakfast comments. He continued in the essay:

“Right now, many Muslim Americans are worried because threats and harassment against their community, are on the rise. We’ve seen Muslim Americans assaulted, children bullied and mosques vandalized, and we’ve heard shameful political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country. When any part of our American family is made to feel isolated or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation. So we have to tackle this problem together, head-on.”

The Thursday breakfast paved the way for his written charge, offering hope and comfort to Americans during a time or uncertainty and instability.

“For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great cure for fear,” Obama said. He went on:

“Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear.”

“And so 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 the acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins. If Scripture instructs me to “put on the full armor of God” so that when trouble comes, I’m able to stand, then surely I can face down these temporal setbacks, surely I can battle back doubts, surely I can rouse myself to action.”

To encourage religious pluralism, Obama’s speech referenced his well-publicized visit Wednesday to the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque, where he met a man who carried out his daily prayers with his children in a public park despite his fears of attracting unwelcome attention.

“I want every Muslim American who may be wondering where they fit in to know that you’re right where you belong — because you’re part of America, too. You are not Muslim or American. You are Muslim and American,” he wrote in the Religion News Service article. “We are one American family. And I’m confident that if we stay true to our values — including protecting the right of all people to practice their faith free from fear — we will stay strong and united. We are, and must always remain, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.

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