President Barack Obama used his remarks at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast to call for Americans to fight religious-based bigotry and intolerance one day after a former Ku Klux Klan leader allegedly shot and killed three people at Jewish centers in Overland Park, Kan.
“Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers,” Obama said. “No one should ever have to fear for their safety when they go to pray.”
Police said Frazier Glenn Miller, said to be a former “grand dragon” with the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, killed two people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and then killed another person at the Village Shalom Retirement Center.
Obama pointed out that the shooting occurred during a holy time for both Jews and Christians. Two of the victims, a grandfather and his teenage grandson, attended the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection and were at the community center for an event.
“As a government, we’re going to provide whatever assistance is needed to support the investigation,” Obama said. “As Americans, we not only need to open our hearts to the families of the victims, we’ve got to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society, and 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.”
Obama also spoke at the Easter breakfast about meeting with Pope Francis during his trip through Europe last month.
“I had a wonderful conversation with Pope Francis, mainly about the imperatives of addressing poverty, inequality, and I invited him to come to the United States, and I sincerely hope he will,” he said.
Obama, a Protestant, said Pope Francis has moved all Christians by his example.
“Some of it is his words; his message of justice and inclusion, especially for the poor, the outcast, he implores us to see the inherent dignity in each human being,” Obama said. “But it’s also his deeds, hugging the homeless man, washing the feet of somebody normally that ordinary folks would just pass by on the street. He reminds us that no matter what our station have an obligation to live righteously and we all have an obligation to live humbly.”
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