Obama to initiate peaceful dialogue on faith with world leaders

February 5th, 2009 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 5 (IANS) Noting that no religion, be it Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, teaches hatred, President Barack Obama Thursday said he will reach out to world leaders to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith.”No matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate,” he said during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. “There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.”

“We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’. The Torah commands, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.”

“In Islam, there is a hadith that reads ‘None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself’.

“And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists,” Obama said.

“It is, of course, the Golden Rule - the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this earth.”

Obama said Washington “will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith. I don’t expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish.”

“But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, then perhaps old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge.”

“In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding,” he said.

Besides Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, a tradition started by President Dwight Eisenhower, was attended by national and foreign dignitaries, including former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Later, Obama was expected to sign an executive order aimed at ensuring religious groups receiving government money don’t discriminate in hiring.

Critics of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships say the Bush administration allowed groups to consider an applicant’s religion when hiring.

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