President Obama used his last address at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday to discuss overcoming fear by embracing faith.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind," Obama read from 2 Timothy 1:7, saying that it's a verse that has resonated with him lately.
"Fear does funny things," Obama said at the 64th spiritual gathering of national leaders in Washington. "It can lead us to lash out against those who are different, or lead us to try to get some sinister 'other' under control," he continued. Fear can also lead to "despair, paralysis and cynicism."
Obama's appearance alongside House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and hosts Reps. Bob Aderholt, R-Ala., and Juan Vargas, D-Calif., caps a week-long stretch in which he has paid homage to all the world's major faiths. Last week, he commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day and honored people who helped Jews during World War II by making his first trip to the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Wednesday he made an historic trip to Maryland to tell the Islamic Society of Baltimore that Americans are dedicated to religious freedom.
"Faith is a great cure for fear," Obama said at the Washington Hilton. "Jesus is a good cure for fear."
Obama said that like all people, he knows fear, but he tries to follow the example of the late Nelson Mandela, who said the definition of courage is the triumph over fear, not the absence of fear.
The tumult of today's world is the perfect time to have "Jesus standing beside us" giving believers the courage to "reach out to others ... and go against the conventional wisdom and stand up for what's right, even when it's not popular," Obama said.
"That is what faith has done for me," Obama said.
Obama's remarks are unlikely to spark the kind of backlash that last year's speech did.
Last year, at the 63rd prayer breakfast, Obama decried the self-proclaimed Islamic State and noted that throughout history, man has enveloped himself in religion to rape, plunder, enslave and murder.
"And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ," Obama said then, to significant criticism.