President Obama and the first lady are attending the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton this morning, where the president continues his defense of religious liberty.
After visiting a U.S. mosque for the first time as president Wednesday, the president’s planned remarks at the breakfast round out a trifecta of events related to religious freedom over the past eight days. He also attended the Righteous Among Nations Awards Ceremony at the Embassy of Israel Jan. 27.
Obama's visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore crossed another item off his bucket list as he entered a mosque in the United States for the first time as president.
At the mosque, Obama once again condemned the rhetoric that has captured the attention of the presidential campaign trail, such as Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban 100 percent of Muslim immigration.
“We’ve seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith,” Obama mused. “And of course recently we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country. It’s no surprise then that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged.”
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the president was making a concerted effort to discuss religious liberty among a broad spectrum of faiths.
“The president last week, had the opportunity to visit the Israeli embassy to speak at the Righteous Among the Nations ceremony, and of course, later this week, the President will speak at the National Prayer Breakfast,” Earnest explained Monday.
“[The mosque visit] sort of fits in the constellation of events the president is doing to talk about religious liberty and to talk about the role that faith plays in our public debate. I think it will also be an opportunity for the president to talk about the role that faith plays, even in his own life.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan will also deliver remarks at the prayer breakfast, as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, a Hillary Clinton supporter rumored to be on the shortlist for vice president if she wins the Democratic nomination.