(Extensions of Remarks - September 20, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 142 (Tuesday, September 20, 2016)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1301-E1303]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                            HON. JANICE HAHN

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                      Tuesday, September 20, 2016

  Ms. HAHN. Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, February 4, 2016 I had the 
privilege of attending the 64th Annual National Prayer Breakfast 
chaired by Representatives Robert Aderholt and Juan Vargas. I would 
like to submit Part Four of the transcript:


       The President: Thank you so much. Thank you. You're very 
     kind. Thank you very much. Well, good morning. Giving all 
     praise and honor to God for bringing us together here this 
       I want to thank everyone who helped organize this 
     breakfast, especially our co-chairs, Robert and Juan, who 
     embody the tradition of friendship, fellowship, and prayer. I 
     will begin with a confession: I have always felt a tinge of 
     guilt motorcading up here at the heart of D.C.'s rush hour. I 
     suspect that not all the commuters were blessing me as they 
     waited to get to work. But it's for a good cause. A National 
     Prayer Brunch doesn't have the same ring to it.
       And Michelle and I are extremely honored, as always, to be 
     with so many friends, with members of Congress, with faith 
     leaders from across the country and around the world, to be 
     with the Speaker, the Leader. I want thank Mark and Roma for 
     their friendship and their extraordinary story, and sharing 
     those inspiring words. Andrea, for sharing his remarkable 
       And on this occasion, I always enjoy reflecting on a piece 
     of scripture that's been meaningful to me or otherwise 
     sustained me throughout the year. And lately, I've been 
     thinking and praying on a verse from Second Timothy: ``For 
     God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of 
     love and of a sound mind.'' For God has not given us a spirit 
     of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
       We live in extraordinary times. Times of extraordinary 
     change. We're surrounded by tectonic shifts in technology and 
     in our economy; by destructive conflict, disruptions to our 
     environment. And it all reshapes the way we work and the way 
     we live. It's all amplified by a media that is unceasing, and 
     that feeds 24/7 on our ever-shrinking attention spans.
       And as a student of history, I often remind people that the 
     challenges that we face are not unique; that in fact, the 
     threats of previous eras--civil war or world war or cold war, 
     depressions or famines--those challenges put our own in 
     perspective. Moreover, I believe that our unique strengths as 
     a nation make us better equipped than others to harness this 
     change to work for us, rather than against us.
       And yet, the sheer rapidity of change, and the uncertainty 
     that it brings, is real. The hardship of a family trying to 
     make ends meet. Refugees fleeing from a war-torn home. Those 
     things are real. Terrorism, eroding shorelines--those things 
     are real. Even the very progress that humanity has made, the 
     affluence, the stability that so many of us enjoy, far 
     greater prosperity than any previous generation of humanity 
     has experienced, shines a brighter light on those who still 
     struggle, reveal the gap in prospects that exist for the 
     children of the world.
       And that gap between want and plenty, it gives us vertigo. 
     It can make us afraid, not only of the possibility that 
     progress will stall, but that maybe we have more to lose. And 
     fear does funny things. Fear can lead us to lash out against 
     those who are different, or lead us to try to get some 
     sinister ``other'' under control. Alternatively, fear can 
     lead us to succumb to despair, or paralysis, or cynicism. 
     Fear can feed our most selfish impulses, and erode the bonds 
     of community.
       It is a primal emotion--fear--one that we all experience. 
     And it can be contagious, spreading through societies, and 
     through nations. And if we let it consume us, the 
     consequences of that fear can be worse than any outward 
       For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great 
     cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives 
     believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to 
     conquer any fear. And what more important moment for that 
     faith than right now? What better time than these changing, 
     tumultuous times to have Jesus standing beside us, steadying 
     our minds, cleansing our hearts, pointing us towards what 
       His love gives us the power to resist fear's temptations. 
     He gives us the courage to reach out to others across that 
     divide, rather than push people away. He gives us the courage 
     to go against the conventional wisdom and stand up for what's 
     right, even when it's not popular. To stand up not just to 
     our enemies but, sometimes, to stand up to our friends. He 
     gives us the fortitude to sacrifice ourselves for a larger 
     cause. Or to make tough decisions knowing that we can only do 
     our best. Less of me, more of God. And then, to have the 
     courage to admit our failings and our sins while pledging to 
     learn from our mistakes and to try to do better.
       Certainly, during the course of this enormous privilege to 
     have served as the President of the United States, that's 
     what faith has done for me. It helps me deal with the common, 
     everyday fears that we all share. The main one I'm feeling 
     right now is that our children grow up too fast. They're 
     leaving. That's a tough deal. And so, as a parent, you're 
     worrying about will some harm befall them, how are they going 
     to manage without you, did you miss some central moment in 
     their lives. Will they call? Or text? Each day, we're fearful 
     that God's purpose becomes elusive, cloudy. We try to figure 
     out how we fit into his broader plan. They're universal fears 
     that we have, and my faith helps me to manage those.
       And then my faith helps me to deal with some of the unique 
     elements of my job. As one of the great departed heroes of 
     our age, Nelson Mandela, once said, ``I learned that courage 
     was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. . . The 
     brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who 
     conquers that fear.''
       And certainly, there are times where I've had to repeat 
     that to myself while holding this office. When you hear from 
     a parade of experts, just days after you're elected, that 
     another Great Depression is a very real possibility--that 
     will get your attention. When you tell a room full of young 
     cadets that you've made a decision to send them into harm's 
     way, knowing that some of them might not return safely--
     that's sobering. When you hold in your arms the mothers and 
     fathers of innocent children gunned down in their classroom--
     that reminds you there's evil in the world. And so you come 
     to understand what President Lincoln meant when he said that 
     he'd been driven to his knees by the overwhelming conviction 
     that he had no place else to go.
       And so like every President, like every leader, like every 
     person, I've known fear. But my faith tells me that I need 
     not fear death; that the acceptance of Christ promises 
     everlasting life and the washing away of sins. If Scripture 
     instructs me to ``put on the full armor of God'' so that when 
     trouble comes, I'm able to stand, then surely I can face down 
     these temporal setbacks, surely I can battle back doubts, 
     surely I can rouse myself to action.
       And should that faith waver, should I lose my way, I have 
     drawn strength not only from a remarkable wife, not only from 
     incredible colleagues and friends, but I have drawn strength 
     from witnessing all across this country and all around this 
     world, good people, of all faiths, who do the Lord's work 
     each and every day, who wield that power and love, and sound 
     mind to feed the hungry and heal the sick, to teach our 
     children and welcome the stranger.
       Think about the extraordinary work of the congregations and 
     faith communities represented here today. Whether fighting 
     global poverty or working to end the scourge of human 
     trafficking, you are the leaders of what Pope Francis calls 
     ``this march of living hope.''
       When the Earth cleaves in Haiti, Christians, Sikhs, and 
     other faith groups sent volunteers to distribute aid, tend to 
     the wounded, rebuild homes for the homeless.
       When Ebola ravaged West Africa, Jewish, Christian, Muslim 
     groups responded to the outbreak to save lives. And as the 
     news fanned the flames of fear, churches and mosques 
     responded with a powerful rebuke, welcoming survivors into 
     their pews.
       When nine worshippers were murdered in a Charleston church 
     basement, it was people of all faiths who came together to 
     wrap a shattered community in love and understanding.
       When Syrian refugees seek the sanctuary of our shores, it's 
     the faithful from synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches 
     who welcome them, the first to offer blankets and food and 
     open their homes. Even now, people of different faiths and 
     beliefs are coming together to help people suffering in 
       And then there's the most--less spectacular, more quiet 
     efforts of congregations all across this country just helping 
     people. Seeing God in others. And we're driven to do this 
     because we're driven by the value that

[[Page E1302]]

     so many of our faiths teach us--I am my brother's keeper, I 
     am my sister's keeper. As Christians, we do this compelled by 
     the Gospel of Jesus--the command to love God, and love one 
       And so, yes, like every person, there are times where I'm 
     fearful. But my faith and, more importantly, the faith that 
     I've seen in so many of you, the God I see in you, that makes 
     me inevitably hopeful about our future. I have seen so many 
     who know that God has not given us a spirit of fear. He has 
     given us power, and love, and a sound mind.
       We see that spirit in people like Pastor Saeed Abedini, 
     imprisoned for no crime other than holding God in his heart. 
     And last year, we prayed that he might be freed. And this 
     year, we give thanks that he is home safe.
       We pray for God's protection for all around the world who 
     are not free to practice their faith, including Christians 
     who are persecuted, or who have been driven from their 
     ancient homelands by unspeakable violence. And just as we 
     call on other countries to respect the rights of religious 
     minorities, we, too, respect the right of every single 
     American to practice their faith freely. For this is what 
     each of us is called on to do: To seek our common humanity in 
     each other. To make sure our politics and our public 
     discourse reflect that same spirit of love and sound mind. To 
     assume the best in each other and not just the worst--and not 
     just at the National Prayer Breakfast. To begin each of our 
     works from the shared belief that all of us want what's good 
     and right for our country and our future.
       We can draw such strength from the quiet moments of heroism 
     around us every single day. And so let me close with two such 
     stories that I've come to know just over the past week.
       A week ago, I spoke at a ceremony held at the Israeli 
     Embassy for the first time, honoring the courage of people 
     who saved Jews during the Holocaust. And one of the 
     recipients was the grandson--or the son of an American 
     soldier who had been captured by the Nazis. So a group of 
     American soldiers are captured, and their captors ordered 
     Jewish POWs to identify themselves. And one sergeant, a 
     Christian named Roddie Edmonds, from Tennessee, ordered all 
     American troops to report alongside them. They lined up in 
     formation, approximately 200 of them, and the Nazi colonel 
     said, ``I asked only for the Jewish POWs,'' and said, ``These 
     can't all be Jewish.'' And Master Sergeant Edmonds stood 
     there and said, ``We are all Jews.'' And the colonel took out 
     his pistol and held it to the Master Sergeant's head and 
     said, ``Tell me who the Jews are.'' And he repeated, ``We are 
     all Jews.'' And faced with the choice of shooting all those 
     soldiers, the Nazis relented. And so, through his moral 
     clarity, through an act of faith, Sergeant Edmonds saved the 
     lives of his Jewish brothers-in-arms.
       A second story. Just yesterday, some of you may be aware I 
     visited a mosque in Baltimore to let our Muslim-American 
     brothers and sisters know that they, too, are Americans and 
     welcome here. And there I met a Muslim-American named Rami 
     Nashashibi, who runs a nonprofit working for social change in 
     Chicago. And he forms coalitions with churches and Latino 
     groups and African Americans in this poor neighborhood in 
     Chicago. And he told me how the day after the tragedy in San 
     Bernardino happened, he took his three young children to a 
     playground in the Marquette Park neighborhood, and while they 
     were out, the time came for one of the five daily prayers 
     that are essential to the Muslim tradition. And on any other 
     day, he told me, he would have immediately put his rug out on 
     the grass right there and prayed.
       But that day, he paused. He feared any unwelcome attention 
     he might attract to himself and his children. And his seven 
     year-old daughter asked him, ``What are you doing, Dad? Isn't 
     it time to pray?'' And he thought of all the times he had 
     told her the story of the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, 
     Jr., and Rabbi Robert Marx, and 700 other people marched to 
     that very same park, enduring hatred and bigotry, dodging 
     rocks and bottles, and hateful words, in order to challenge 
     Chicago housing segregation, and to ask America to live up to 
     our highest ideals.
       And so, at that moment, drawing from the courage of men of 
     different religions, of a different time, Rami refused to 
     teach his children to be afraid. Instead, he taught them to 
     be a part of that legacy of faith and good conscience. ``I 
     want them to understand that sometimes faith will be 
     tested,'' he told me, ``and that we will be asked to show 
     immense courage, like others have before us, to make our 
     city, our country, and our world a better reflection of all 
     our ideals.'' And he put down his rug and he prayed.
       Now, those two stories, they give me courage and they give 
     me hope. And they instruct me in my own Christian faith. I 
     can't imagine a moment in which that young American sergeant 
     expressed his Christianity more profoundly than when, 
     confronted by his own death, he said ``We are all Jews.'' I 
     can't imagine a clearer expression of Jesus's teachings. I 
     can't imagine a better expression of the peaceful spirit of 
     Islam than when a Muslim father, filled with fear, drew from 
     the example of a Baptist preacher and a Jewish rabbi to teach 
     his children what God demands.
       For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and 
     of love and of a sound mind. I pray that by His grace, we all 
     find the courage to set such examples in our own lives--not 
     just during this wonderful gathering and fellowship, not just 
     in the public piety that we profess, but in those smaller 
     moments when it's difficult, when we're challenged, when 
     we're angry, when we're confronted with someone who doesn't 
     agree with us, when no one is watching. I pray, as Roma so 
     beautifully said, that our differences ultimately are 
     bridged; that the God that is in each of us comes together, 
     and we don't divide.
       I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and 
     generosity. I pray that my failings are forgiven. I pray that 
     we will uphold our obligation to be good stewards of God's 
     creation--this beautiful planet. I pray that we will see 
     every single child as our own, each worthy of our love and of 
     our compassion. And I pray we answer Scripture's call to lift 
     up the vulnerable, and to stand up for justice, and ensure 
     that every human being lives in dignity.
       That's my prayer for this breakfast, and for this country, 
     in the years to come. May God bless you, and may He continue 
     to bless this country that we love.
       Rep. Aderholt: Thank you so much, Mr. President. Thank you 
     for your encouraging and also your challenging word this 
     morning. As you know, this breakfast began with one of your 
     predecessors, Dwight Eisenhower; we appreciate you being with 
     us all eight years.
       And now, let us get ready for the world that awaits us 
     outside the walls of this hotel, and let's hear again from 
     our friend and our brother from Italy, Andrea Bocelli singing 
     Amazing Grace.
       [Mr. Bocelli sings Amazing Grace]
       Mr. Andrea Bocelli: Thank you. Thank you very much. A few 
     words in my terrible English. Ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. 
     President, there is a dark shadow on the world in this 
     period. Many children, elderly die under the bomb. The war is 
     the worst incident of our intelligence. There is a very small 
     word, an honorable word that is to the base of our tragedy. 
     This word in Old Greek, is hubris. Hubris means pride. But 
     there is also on the other side a big reason of happiness, a 
     big reason to be optimist. This reason is the will to be all 
     together and pray together. To be all together also for a 
     moment, to put aside our opinions, our ideas, our different 
     goals, and to be really very close and to pray. Thank you for 
     this invitation. Thank you very much.
       Rep. Vargas: Wow, what a great morning. Better than what we 
     ever imagined. Thank you, Jesus. Let's take away the right 
     kind of pride in what we have experienced today, the right 
     kind. As my mother often said, ``Never be ashamed of your 
     faith in Jesus because you never want him to be ashamed of 
     you.'' As Democratic Leader Pelosi reminded us in her 
     reading, Jesus prayed for us to be one and brought to 
     complete unity, and we also heard that today with Mr. 
     Bocelli. So here is my question to you, does Jesus get what 
     he prays for? Let's work for unity. Jesus asked God to send 
     us all together to be one.
       Rep. Aderholt: In closing, let me challenge you with this. 
     We have heard a lot about unity this morning, that is what 
     Juan and I wanted, just what we were hoping would be the 
     case. Division is a great problem, so unity is our greatest 
     need, and we believe that we need to pray our way to that 
     unity. We cannot achieve unity on our own. Humanity has tried 
     and humanity has failed for centuries. We have tried, and we 
     have failed in this city, Washington D.C. Unity is a gift 
     from God and Jesus says, ``Seek and ye shall find, knock and 
     the door will be open to you.'' Bring us the unity we need, 
     Lord Jesus. And now to offer our closing prayer, Derrick 
       Mr. Derrick Henry: Good morning. I am so glad and honored 
     to be here to do this closing prayer. We bow our heads. Lord 
     Jesus, I thank you for gathering us here today, to hear from 
     these great leaders and these great people, to hear God's 
     word about unity and us being united as one, and how 
     important it is. Jesus Lord I pray for the people who weren't 
     able to eat breakfast today, people who don't have clothes on 
     their back or shoes on their feet, but I pray that you make 
     them find a way and have faith in you that they will receive 
     better days. Father God, I pray for the people who have 
     cancer, who suffer every day with pain and heartache and that 
     you one day will heal them from all the suffering and all the 
     pain. And Lord, I want to pray for my generation, that every 
     day we wake up we seek you, Lord for guidance and wisdom, and 
     one day that we can stand up here and be great leaders, be 
     great people, men and women to speak on unity and united as 
     one, and how important it is to this country and to this 
     world. My Father God, I pray that us as people, great people 
     in here, that we continue to use our platform to help others 
     and inspire others. And last, I would like to pray on the 
     food that we are eating today. I pray that we bless the hands 
     that prepared this food, and let it be nourishment to our 
     bodies. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
       Rep. Aderholt: Thank you again. Paco and I are very happy 
     that you have joined us here this morning for this breakfast. 
     I think it was very successful. Again, let's give everyone at 
     the head table a great hand.
       That concludes our breakfast, and the President and the 
     First Lady will be leaving shortly. If you could stay in your 
     seats for the next few minutes, but we do appreciate them as 
     they're leaving the building and their support for the 
     National Prayer Breakfast. May God bless each of you that are 
     here. May God bless the United States of America, and every 
     country around the world. Thank you, and God Bless.

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