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U.S. President Barack Obama bows his head in prayer as he attends the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on February 4, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PRAYER-BREAKFAST, originally transmitted on Feb. 4, 2016.

In his own words: President Obama on faith

WASHINGTON (RNS) Over his two terms, President Obama addressed his personal faith in prayer breakfasts and holiday statements and cited people of faith — and of no faith — on other occasions. Here is a sampling:

2009: Inaugural address

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. … To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”

2010: National Prayer Breakfast

“Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility. That begins with stepping out of our comfort zones in an effort to bridge divisions. We see that in many conservative pastors who are helping lead the way to fix our broken immigration system. … We see it in the increasing recognition among progressives that government can’t solve all of our problems, and that talking about values like responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage are integral to any anti-poverty agenda.”

2011: Easter Prayer Breakfast

“This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this ‘Amazing Grace’ calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short.”

2012: On shift in his and the first lady’s views on same-sex marriage

“We are both practicing Christians, and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

2013: After recent trip to the Holy Land, including a stop at the Church of the Nativity

“I was reminded that while our time on Earth is fleeting, he is eternal. His life, his lessons live on in our hearts and, most importantly, in our actions. When we tend to the sick, when we console those in pain, when we sacrifice for those in need, wherever and whenever we are there to give comfort and to guide and to love, then Christ is with us.”

2014: After the shooting deaths at two Jewish facilities in Kansas

“We have to keep coming together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism that can lead to hatred and to violence, because we’re all children of God. We’re all made in his image, all worthy of his love and dignity. And we see what happens around the world when this kind of religious-based or tinged violence can rear its ugly head. It’s got no place in our society.”

2015: Eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

“Our pain cuts that much deeper because it happened in a church. The church is and always has been the center of African-American life, a place to call our own in a too often hostile world, a sanctuary from so many hardships. … That’s what the black church means. Our beating heart. The place where our dignity as a people is inviolate.”

2016: Final Easter Prayer Breakfast

“(O)ur faith changes us. I know it’s changed me,” he said. “It renews in us a sense of possibility. It allows us to believe that although we are all sinners, and that at times we will falter, there’s always the possibility of redemption. Every once in a while, we might get something right, we might do some good.”

Adelle M. Banks

About Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at RNS. She joined the staff in 1995 after working for more than 10 years at daily newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Binghamton and Syracuse, The Providence Journal and the Orlando Sentinel.

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