- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2021

President Biden said Thursday that Americans can turn to faith in these troubled times and also vowed to tackle “political extremism” and “white supremacy” after the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time,” Mr. Biden said in videotaped remarks for the National Prayer Breakfast. “So where do we turn? Faith.”

Mr. Biden noted the pandemic and the associated economic downturn, calls for racial justice and the growing threat from climate change.

He called on Americans to stand up to extremism.

“We know we now must confront and defeat political extremism, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism,” he said.

Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic, said that in his darkest moments, religion has provided “hope and solace.”

“It shows the way forward as one nation in a common purpose to respect one another, to care for one another, to leave no one behind,” he said. “These aren’t Democrats or Republicans going hungry in our nation. They’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings.”

Mr. Biden has tried to emphasize unity and “healing” since taking office. He also has come under fire from pro-life groups who say his Catholicism conflicts with his stance on abortion.

During the 2020 campaign, he flipped his longstanding position in favor of the Hyde Amendment, which generally bars federal funding from being used to pay for abortions. He now says it needs to go.

Brian Burch, president of the group CatholicVote, called Mr. Biden’s remarks on Thursday “disappointing and underwhelming.”

“It’s important to also remember that President Biden does not speak for Catholics or the Church,” Mr. Burch said. “In fact, he explicitly departs from many of the Church’s non-negotiable beliefs and teachings.”

Sitting U.S. presidents have historically participated in the annual event, organized by the Fellowship Foundation, dating back to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Still, Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, said Mr. Biden’s participation gave him pause.

“When elected officials use the backdrop of the Capitol to assert the power of their faith — while affirming that they gather in the name of Jesus — they are not living up to the constitutional promise of a secular government,” Mr. Moline said.

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton also delivered videotaped remarks for Thursday’s virtual event.

Mr. Bush said attending the National Prayer Breakfast every year was “one of the highlights of the presidency.”

“As president, there was no greater gift than the prayers of the American people,” Mr. Bush said.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware read a letter on behalf of former President Jimmy Carter, saying Mr. Carter, 96, couldn’t do so himself because of health reasons.

At last year’s event, former President Donald Trump memorably held up a newspaper with an “ACQUITTED” headline after last year’s Senate impeachment trial.

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