Obama: religious freedom 'under threat'
President Barack Obama bows his head during a prayer at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service.
February 6th, 2014
10:56 AM ET

Obama: religious freedom 'under threat'

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama says that "around the world, freedom of religion is under threat."

And at the annual National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, the President also said he's looking forward to meeting Pope Francis.

"I'm especially looking forward to returning to the Vatican next month to meet his holiness, Pope Francis, whose message about caring for the least of these I hope all of us heed. Like (the Apostle) Matthew he has answered the call of Jesus, who said 'follow me' and he inspires us with his words and deeds, his humility and his mercy and his missionary impulses to serve the cause of social justice," Obama said.

The President touted the Pope's stance on inequality as he and congressional Democrats highlight the issue of income inequality. Obama met Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, in 2009. That meeting, which took place at the Vatican, was Obama's only meeting with a Pope.

Much of Obama's remarks focused on threats to religious freedom abroad, from China to Egypt to Sudan and Burma.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Discrimination • Faith • Foreign policy • Obama • Religious liberty • Religious violence • Tibet

soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. truth1914

    Those of the true religion realize that earthly governments don't support God's purpose for the earth, and that is why they are neutral in matter of politics in whatever country they may live. We abide by the laws of the land (that don't conflict with God's requirements) but our government is The Kingdom of God.

    (Ephesians 6:12) . . .have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments. . .

    (John 18:36) . . .“My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”

    February 16, 2014 at 10:20 am |
    • igaftr

      It always amazes me how many people put the word truth in ther name and then state belief.
      Can't you differentiate belief from truth?

      February 16, 2014 at 10:33 am |
      • truth1914

        It's not the name but the message that is important.

        (John 17:3) 3 This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ. . .

        February 16, 2014 at 10:39 am |
      • igaftr

        Still belief. There is no reason to believe that your book has any more validity than any of the other thousands of religions.
        You message was made by ignorant men over 2000 years ago, no sign of any gods involved.
        They could not imagine life the way it is now.
        Such a shame that the bible has been used to justify slavery, bigotry, wars, murders, attempted genocide, faster spread of disease, conflict and strife since its beginning.
        Another religion of "love" ...as long as you are a believer...if you are not we can force you to believe, or force our beliefs on you, and if you don't convert we can kill you justifiably.
        Christianity is such an immoral religion...you have to allow someone else to take your just punishment ( an immoral act in itself) in order to be "saved" from hell, a hell that god created in the first place....simply boggles the mind what beliefs people are taught, and then actually believe.

        February 16, 2014 at 10:49 am |
        • truth1914

          "Such a shame that the bible has been used to justify slavery, bigotry, wars, murders, attempted genocide, faster spread of disease, conflict and strife since its beginning."

          The 'true religion' has never done the atrocities you listed above. They believe:

          (Matthew 26:52) . . .all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.
          (Matthew 5:44) 44 However, I say to YOU: Continue to love YOUR enemies and to pray for those persecuting YOU. . .
          (Colossians 3:14) . . .But, besides all these things, [clothe yourselves with] love, for it is a perfect bond of union. . .

          This is what the 'true religion' believes and practices

          February 16, 2014 at 11:07 am |
        • truth1914

          “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matthew 24:11, 12) Jesus associated the increased lawlessness and the cooling off of love with the influence of false prophets—religious teachers who falsely claim to speak for God. Earlier, this book presented evidence that the clergy have backed the wars of the nations, belittled Bible standards of morality as being out of date, and labeled portions of the Bible as untrue. With what result? A ‘cooling off’ in love for God and his laws. This has been a major factor in the breakdown of morality, along with disregard for authority and lack of concern for one’s fellowman.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
          23 Because of such conditions, millions have left religious organizations. Some turn to the Bible and conform to its ways. Others withdraw in disappointment and disgust. Many are becoming enemies of religion. One columnist said: “One cannot but be struck by how much of the world’s trouble is rooted in religion. And few secular political rivalries ever generate the bloodthirsty fervor of religious war.” In view of this, he asked: “Why not abolish religion?”49

          February 16, 2014 at 11:17 am |
        • igaftr

          Yes your religion has been used for ALL of those things and more.
          The No True Scotsman fallacy does not fly here.
          There are many who would claim you are not a christian for some difference in belief...all the more showing the evil of the bible. 40,000 versions of "true religion"...hilarious...and then the insult to ALL of the other religions.

          There are over 100 creator gods...there are over 400 "one true" gods...all made up by men, along with yours.
          Still no sign of any actual gods...a lot of signs that men like to make up gods to answer his own ignorance.

          February 16, 2014 at 11:18 am |
        • truth1914

          Your disbelief is not uncommon in today's world. I just hope that we continue to reach people who have an open mind and they benefit from having a close personal relationship with God.

          (Proverbs 27:11) 11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me. . .

          February 16, 2014 at 11:30 am |
    • trees491a

      Always amazes me how so many believe that THEIR religion is the one and only TRUE religion when there have been, still are and will in the future be so many DIFFERENT religions. Best to focus on what we have in common. So far (although not all show it or live by example), that would seem to be love, compassion and humility.

      February 28, 2014 at 5:51 am |
  2. thesamyaza

    but the National Prayer Breakfast is a threat to freedom of religion

    February 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
    • believehimnotyou

      No its freedom of religion in action. When it stops there will be no more freedom

      February 15, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
  3. Joe

    Religious persecution was at an all time high in 2013. Freedom to practice one's faith is the hallmark of a civilized society. There is no room for the intolerance of such freedom in the 21st century. One of the basic human rights is violated when "religious freedom" is under attack.

    (Reuters) – About 100 million Christians are persecuted around the world, with conditions worsening for them most rapidly in Syria and Ethiopia, according to an annual report by a group supporting oppressed Christians worldwide.

    February 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • Joe

      Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year," Vatican spokesman Monsieur Silvano Maria Tomassi said Tuesday in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

      "Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to ra_pe and to the abduction of their leaders, as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo [Syria]," Tomassi said.

      February 13, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
    • Joe


      February 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
  4. johnn23


    February 11, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
  5. realityyyyyyy

    For added information on the Coe family's (Fellowship Foundation), see:


    All of the Form 990's are referenced. From these, one can see the money said family makes from their "non-profit". Pay particular attention to the money received from government grants and the salary, travel and housing expenses.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:31 am |
  6. 9596tony

    Proud of the President for raising this issue at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.

    Hope other church leaders, such as the Pope and others join actively in condemning acts of violence against people of faith and stand together in bringing peace and restoring religious freedom for the millions of men, women and children who are in the path of violence.


    February 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • 9596tony


      February 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • bootyfunk

      he should condemn attacks against people of no faith too...

      February 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
  7. The Running Twit

    I'll bet Obama will come out as atheist by 2020!

    He looks like he hates talking about religion. always have to say he is not muslim, have to switch pastors.....

    February 10, 2014 at 11:47 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.