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Biden uses National Prayer Breakfast to call for interfaith unity, cooperation

U.S. President Joe Biden used the National Prayer Breakfast as an opportunity to call for unity amongst different religious groups.

Even when they have different beliefs, adherents can have a common calling to help others, Biden said.

Catholic Courier reports:

“Whether you’re Christian, whether you’re Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other faith, or no faith at all, it speaks to all of us as human beings who are here on this earth primarily to care for one another, look out for one another, and to love one another,” Biden said. “And it’s not always easy. It’s hard. But that’s our mission.”

Biden pointed to events such as the COVID pandemic, extreme weather and violence in communities as opportunities for interfaith cooperation. CC continues:

“Look, in our politics and our lives, we too often see each other as opponents and not competitors,” Biden said. “We see each other as enemies, not neighbors. And as tough as these times have been, if we look closer, we see the strength, the determination that has long defined America.”

Biden delivered his comments from the Capitol building’s Congressional Auditorium. He spoke to members of Congress in person on Feb. 2, and a video connection relayed the message to other viewers at a hotel near by.

This year’s prayer breakfast was organized by the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation under the leadership of former Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. That marked a change from past events, when the Fellowship Foundation put the breakfast together.

The change followed controversy in recent years when the selected speakers delivered pointed political commentary at the supposedly non-partisan event.

The Washington Post reports:

the newly created National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, which emerged “following numerous meetings in 2022,” according to Pryor’s statement.

“As with many other things in our country, the covid years allowed the Members to hit the reset button and organize a working group to fulfill this longtime vision,” the statement read.

In a Jan. 25 interview with Religion News Service, Pryor, board president of the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, said the breakfast is the new organization’s sole event. He anticipates the expected 200 to 300 participants will bring a spouse, significant other or “their pastor or priest from home.” He added that the breakfast will not be a sit-down affair as it has been in the past. Attendees will be offered bagels, coffee and tea before they take their seats in an auditorium at the Capitol Visitor Center in the U.S. Capitol.

“That’s what Congress wants, they want to take it back to its origins, and in the early days it really was just the Congress and the president,” said Pryor, who expects President Biden to attend and called the plans “a little bit of a back-to-basics movement.”

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