President Barack Obama said Thursday he will establish a White House office of faith-based initiatives that will show no favoritism to any religious group and adhere to the strict separation of church and state.
Addressing the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke of how faith has often been a divisive tool, responsible for war and prejudice. But, he said, "there is no religion whose central tenet is hate" and all religions teach people to love and care for one another. That is the common ground underlying his faith-based office, he said.
In personal terms, he talked about the role of faith in his life, from his Muslim-born father and a mother skeptical of organized religion to his own embrace of Christianity as a young man.
"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," Obama told the gathering of lawmakers, dignitaries and world leaders. "This is my hope. This is my prayer."
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