News / USA

    Obama: Religious Freedom Matters to 'National Security'

    President Barack Obama speaks at the 62nd National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Feb. 6, 2014.
    President Barack Obama speaks at the 62nd National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Feb. 6, 2014.
    VOA News
    President Barack Obama says freedom of religion matters to U.S. national security, and promoting religious freedom abroad is a key part in the country's foreign policy.

    Obama spoke Thursday at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, saying anyone who harms someone in the name of faith diminishes their relationship with God.

    "Around the world, freedom of religion is under threat, and that is what I want to reflect on this morning," the president told the audience. "We see governments engaging in discriminating and violence against the faith. We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, how they pray, or who they love."

    He asked the audience to pray for those held captive for their religious beliefs, including Kenneth Bae, held in North Korea, and Saeed Abedini, held in Iran.

    Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama also attended the event to honor their Christian faith. The National Prayer Breakfast is hosted by members of the Senate and House of Representatives who meet each week for prayer on Capitol Hill.

    Every U.S. president has attended the event since it began in 1953.

    Guests of the annual event have come from some 130 countries, and the guest list often includes foreign dignitaries and celebrities. Mother Teresa, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and musician Bono have all attended the event.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sally from: CA
    February 06, 2014 11:52 AM
    Isn't it interesting that post WWII we had God in our lives in a big way [lots to be thankful for at the time]...and since then it has steadily gone downhill as we continue to remove God from our culture/society...progressive liberalism bordering on marxist/socialistic ideologies...that's the true culprit of our demise...pray for our country and its leaders...we/they need it!

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    February 06, 2014 11:42 AM
    To what do we attribute this twist of fact - innuendo or miscarriage? The name of God sounds well in his mouth as if he has not been otherwise. Harming others in the name of God, does he include harming innocuous and defenseless fetuses harmed in abortion, and those denied the free food they enjoyed from when the Church when he withdrew the subvention given to the Church because it refused to harm those who cannot speak or have anyone to represent them to demand for their right to live? No I can't believe it's Obama talking. Round peg in square hole. It will be the biggest surprise of his administration if he doesn't change this PRAYER BREAKFAST before the end of his second tenure in office.

    by: Steve from: Buffalo, NY
    February 06, 2014 11:30 AM
    Disagreeing with someone's lifestyle is not persecution. Inordinant affection, affection that is out of order, is actually named as a sin in the new testament. This does not, and will not justify any violence against anyone, for different lifestyles or religious beliefs.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora