- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

President Obama urged Americans Thursday not to fear people who are different, building on his theme of accepting Muslims in communities across the U.S.

“Fear does funny things,” Mr. Obama said at the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast. “Fear can lead us to lash out against those who are different. Fear can feed our most selfish impulses and erode the bonds of community.”

He told the audience, “Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear.”

The president, who visited a mosque in the U.S. for the first time Wednesday to show support for American Muslims, didn’t directly refer to the political controversy over some Republican presidential candidates proposing to bar Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.

He did call on Americans “to make sure our politics and our public discourse reflect [a] spirit of love and of sound mind, to assume the best in each other, not just the worst.”

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, told the audience that he’s noticed “a growing impatience with prayer in our culture” on social media and in newspapers. After the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, in December, the New York Daily News bore the headline, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” a criticism of Republican presidential candidates who offered prayers for the victims instead of proposing more gun laws.

Said Mr. Ryan, “When people say they’re praying for someone or something, the attitude in some quarters seems to be, “Don’t just pray; do something about it.’ But the thing is, when you are praying, you are doing something about it. You are revealing the presence of God.”

Mr. Obama also spoke of gun violence at the prayer breakfast, referring to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012.

“When you hold in your arms the mothers and fathers of innocent children gunned down in their classroom, that reminds you there’s evil in the world,” he said. “Like every president, like every leader, like every person, I’ve known fear. But my faith tells me that I need not fear death, that the acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins.”

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