On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed the National Prayer Breakfast in a brief remote message. While he spoke about the virtues of faith, he did not mention his administration’s attack on religious freedom. He repeated false claims about the supposed “climate crisis.” While he called on Americans to help one another, he also pledged to “confront and defeat” “political extremism, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism.”
Biden mentioned the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, connecting it to “white supremacy” and domestic terrorism.
“We just have to open our eyes. We’ve just witnessed images that we’ve never imagined — images that now we’ll never forget: a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol — an assault on our democracy, on our Capitol, a violent attack that threatened lives and took lives,” Biden said. “We know now we must confront and defeat political extremism, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism.”
This line suggested Biden does intend to go ahead with a Democratic bill to fight domestic terrorism, which even Democrat former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard warned would enable a “KGB-style surveillance state” aimed at conservatives.
Although Biden was correct to condemn the horrific attack on the Capitol, this remark suggested that the threat of the Capitol riot was ongoing. Former President Donald Trump has conceded the election and left the White House, so the “Stop the Steal” movement has arguably disbanded. While some of those who stormed the Capitol may have been racist, Biden’s claim that they represented “white supremacy” is an extreme stretch. “Stop the Steal” focused on Trump and the 2020 election, not supporting “white supremacy.”
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Yet the Department of Homeland Security under Biden issued a domestic terrorism alert warning of objections to “governmental authority.” These moves portend a crackdown on dissent in the name of fighting domestic terrorism.
In addition to the Capitol riot, Biden addressed other tragedies in his speech, setting a dark tone.
“Over 400,000 of our fellow Americans have lost their lives to a deadly virus. Millions are out of work. We see long lines for food at food banks that stretch for miles,” he said. Indeed, the deaths and dislocations from the COVID-19 pandemic are tragic, but the number of deaths is likely inflated and arguably misleading since most of those who died of COVID-19 were elderly and had comorbidities.
Much of the economic dislocation traces to draconian and downright non-scientific lockdown policies that Democrats pushed in the name of safety. Egregiously, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) demonstrated the political nature of his lockdown by lifting restrictions after Biden became president — even though California’s case numbers were going up, not down, at the time.
While Biden rightly condemned the Capitol riot, he did not mention the Black Lives Matter and antifa riots that cost far more in terms of lives, property damage, and livelihoods. Instead, he said, “We hear the call for racial justice, some 400 years in the making,” as if the violent riots of the summer had not happened.
Yet Biden gave perhaps his most egregious misrepresentation when addressing the supposed “climate crisis.”
“We see the existential threat climate crisis poses to our planet everywhere we turn, with more severe floods, stronger hurricanes, and more intense wildfires,” the president said. This statement echoed Biden’s longer claim from September when the then-candidate insisted that the burning of fossil fuels contributed to floods, hurricanes, and wildfires in recent U.S. history. There is no evidence linking man-made climate change to any of the natural disasters Biden mentioned — in fact, some studies have disproved such linkages — and those disasters, while tragic, were not out of the normal course of nature for those regions of the country.
Biden insisted that Americans should turn to faith in this dark time.
“For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time, so where do we turn? Faith,” he said. He quoted the Danish Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. “For me, in the darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace, it provides clarity and purpose, as well. It shows the way forward. As one nation in a common purpose to respect one another, to care for one another, to leave no one behind.”
Biden insisted on the common humanity of Americans struggling at this moment.
“These aren’t Democrats, Republicans going hungry in our nation. They’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings,” he said, repeating the same refrain for those “going without health care,” those “being evicted from their homes,” and those “losing their lives with this deadly virus.”
Biden’s call for compassion is noble, and Americans should indeed help one another at this dark time. But Biden has weaponized COVID-19 relief for political gain, rejecting a clean COVID-19 relief bill because it did not include bailouts to poorly-managed blue states or a $15/hour minimum wage.
While Biden rightly praised faith as the light to lead Americans through this dark time, he did not address his many attacks on religious freedom and his policies that contradict the sincerely-held beliefs of millions in America.
“President Biden’s brief unremarkable address at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning ignored the aggressive and hostile steps already taken by his administration against people of faith, including the anti-science transgender mandate and the deeply unpopular decision to fund abortion around the world,” Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, said of Biden’s speech.
While Biden identifies as a practicing Catholic and does indeed frequently attend mass, he has adopted policies that contradict key tenets of Catholic social teaching, especially on the issue of abortion. Indeed, the head of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) rebuked the president for advancing “moral evils.”
“It’s important to also remember that President Biden does not speak for Catholics or the Church,” Burch argued. “In fact he explicitly departs from many of the Church’s non-negotiable beliefs and teachings. For this reason, the Catholic Bishops of the United States have rightly pointed to deep concerns about Biden policies that would ‘advance moral evils’ on issues such as marriage, family, religious liberty, and the defense of vulnerable children in the womb.”
“Our country is desperately in need of healing and unity. Throughout our history, our leaders have called the country to prayer and obedience to the truths of our Judeo-Christian heritage. President Biden’s words this morning were both underwhelming and disappointing,” Burch concluded.
While presidents have often addressed political topics in speeches to the National Prayer Breakfast, Biden’s speech portended a double standard on domestic terrorism, more false climate narratives to justify job-killing moves, and leftist activism in the name of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Once again, he advanced a divisive agenda in the name of unity. Naturally, legacy media outlets have picked up on the unity and ignored the division.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.