Biden repeats call for unity, says faith
can show way forward in dark times

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden stand for the national anthem sung by Patti LaBelle as they participate remotely in a virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service from the White House in Washington Jan. 21, 2021. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — For many in the nation, this is a dark time because of job loss, hunger, evictions, sickness and death because of COVID-19, “so where do we turn? Faith” President Joe Biden said, addressing the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 4.

“Kierkegaard wrote, ‘Faith sees best in the dark.’ I believe that to be true. For me, in the darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace, it provides clarity and purpose as well. It shows the way forward,” said Biden, a Catholic.

“Faith shows the way forward as one nation in a common purpose,” he said, echoing his theme of unity in his Jan. 20 inaugural address.

Those going hungry, facing eviction, lacking health care or losing their lives “aren’t Democrats and Republicans — they’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings,” he said. “This is not a nation that can, or will, simply stand by and watch this. It is not who we are.”

“We just witnessed images we never imagined, images that now we will never forget: a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, assault on our democracy, on our Capitol,” Biden said. “A violent attack that threatened lives and took lives. We know now that we must confront and defeat political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism.”

This nation is not a country “that can or will simply stand by and watch this. That’s not who we are. It’s not who faith calls us to be,” he said. “In this moment, we cannot be timid or tired. We have too much work to do. It’s by our work, not just our words, that we’re going to be judged.”

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were among those addressing this year’s breakfast. Other speakers were Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California; and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young.

Former Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, introduced the Lord’s Prayer being recited by people around the world; each person read a line of the prayer.

The National Prayer Breakfast, which is always on the first Thursday in February, took place virtually this year because of the pandemic. It is usually held at the Washington Hilton, drawing nearly 4,000 guests from around the world.

It dates back to the war years of the early 1940s. The first official event took place in 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower accepted an invitation by House and Senate prayer groups to join them in praying for the nation and its leaders.

Hosted by members of Congress, the event is organized and funded by the Fellowship Foundation, a Christian organization. It is designed to be a forum for the political, social, and business elite to assemble and pray together.

Since the inception of the National Prayer Breakfast, several U.S. states and cities and other countries have established their own annual prayer breakfast events.

Moolenaar said that amid today’s “political discord,” when people so often are “demonizing” those on the opposite side of issues, the breakfasts are “a welcoming environment that allows us to see the best in one another and better understand each other.”

Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher

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