Obama in prayer for 'civility' in politics
Published 05/02/2010 | 05:00
AN EMOTIONAL Barack Obama revealed yesterday that he prays politicians can restore a "spirit of civility" to the nation's capital.
Speaking at the annual National Prayer breakfast, Mr Obama said divisions in Washington were nothing new, but "there is a sense that something is different now, that something is broken, that those of us in Washington aren't serving people as well as we should".
Mr Obama said America's leaders were quick to unite in times of crisis, such as last month's devastating earthquake in Haiti. But when it came to long-term problems, he said, politicians could become absorbed by ideology and power contests.
He also urged leaders to be empowered by faith to bridge divisions and unite around common goals.
"You can question my policies without questioning my faith. Or, for that matter, my citizenship," Mr Obama said, referring to critics who have questioned whether he was born in the United States.
Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero also participated at the yearly breakfast, which has been held in Washington for more than 50 years. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has participated.
This year's event drew controversy when an ethics group asked the president to boycott the breakfast over objections to the sponsor, The Fellowship Foundation.
In a letter to Obama and congressional leaders, the watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington said The Fellowship Foundation had "been cultivating an unorthodox brand of Christianity amongst the political, military and economic elite of America". The group says the foundation is also linked to efforts to pass strict anti-gay laws in Uganda.