Obama condemns extremists' exploitation of religion

Obama condemns extremists
# 05 February 2015 19:49 (UTC +04:00)

“We are summoned to push back against those who've tried to distort any religion for their own nihilistic ends,” he said during a National Prayer Breakfast, which attracted leading religious and political leaders including the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile.

The Dalai Lama was a "good friend," according to Obama, and "a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion and who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings."

China has long-objected to world leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama, and while Obama has met him at the White House behind closed doors, Thursday's gathering was the first public event they both attended.

Obama has sought to upend ISIL’s attempts to justify through religion its acts of murder, rape, and sex slavery, saying that in such groups “we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge, or worse, sometimes used as a weapon.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II was set to give a reading during the gathering, but cut short his trip to Washington on Tuesday to return to the Hashemite Kingdom after a recording was released on the Internet purporting to show the execution of a Jordanian pilot by ISIL supporters.

Obama urged those in attendance to remember that Christianity was also used to justify atrocious acts.

“Remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ,” he said referring to racist state and local laws that were intended to segregate and subjugate black Americans. They were reversed by a series of federal laws between 1964 and 1965.

But religion continues to be a powerful force for stirring ire and violence, being used to justify conflict across the globe.

Obama asked how those realities can be reconciled with the ideals of religion, emphasizing the importance of “the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religion for their own murderous ends.”

“Whatever our beliefs, whatever our traditions, we must seek to be instruments of peace and bring light where there's darkness and sewing love where there's hatred,” Obama said.

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