President Joe Biden on Thursday pushed faith as the prescription for the “dark, dark times” he said the nation is suffering through amid an ongoing pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout.
“Now, I have attended many of these prayer breakfasts over the years with a nation at war and struggle and strife, a nation of peace and prosperity, a nation though always in prayer. What we know this time is different,” Biden told the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, listing off events of the past year, including the pandemic death toll, severe weather, high unemployment, and long lines at food banks. “For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time. So, where do we turn? Faith.”
Biden, the second Catholic ever to serve as president, emphasized political unity at a time when many are in need. “These are not Democrats or Republicans going hungry in our nation. They are our fellow Americans, fellow human beings. They aren’t Democrats or Republicans going without healthcare in America. They’re our fellow Americans.”
The National Prayer Breakfast, hosted annually on the first Thursday in February, has been a tradition for sitting presidents dating back to President Dwight Eisenhower’s appearance at the event in 1953. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close ally of Biden’s, said the breakfast “recognizes the teachings of Jesus but is not limited to Christianity” and is meant to be “an inclusive and positive event.”
But the breakfast has at times taken on a more partisan tone in recent years. Former President Barack Obama received backlash in 2010 for his appearance at the event, which was sponsored by the conservative Christian evangelical group the Fellowship Foundation.
And former President Donald Trump was known to use the breakfast as a venue for score-settling and axe-grinding, mockingly asking attendees to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger over the low ratings of “The Apprentice,” the NBC reality show that Trump hosted and Schwarzenegger took over. At a later breakfast, Trump lashed out at “dishonest and corrupt” people after his 2020 impeachment acquittal.
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