Obama prays at breakfast, launches White House office on faith
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During the week leading up to the meeting, there are a variety of related meetings, meals, and prayer. A friend who is involved in the breakfast, for example, has opened his home in Washington this week to prayer breakfast participants from the Republic of Kazakhstan.Skip to next paragraph
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The keynote speaker was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He converted to Catholicism in 2007 and founded the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Other years have also featured speakers from overseas including Mother Teresa.
The limits to humanism
In an eloquent and witty address, Blair pledged support to Obama saying, “we should be as steadfast for you in the hard work as in the celebration.” He observed that what inspires is “the unconditional nature of God’s love.” And he said that, “There are limits to humanism and beyond those limits only God can work.”
Inspired by church folks
In his 11 minute talk, the President talked about his path to Christianity and his hopes for the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “I was not raised in a particularly religious household,” Mr. Obama said. The President said he became a Christian after working in the South Side of Chicago and “working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.”
Obama said the purpose of his administration’s faith based office, “will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state."
Trying to reduce religious divisions
The President also said he hopes the office will play a role in reducing religious divisions. “We will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith,” he said.
And the President talked about why he wanted to keep the prayer breakfast tradition alive during his time in office. He said, “We come to break bread and give thanks and seek guidance, but also to rededicate ourselves to the mission of love and service that lies at the heart of all humanity. As St. Augustine once said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”