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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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/ 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.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs