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February 02, 2012

President Obama: There's a "biblical call to care...for the poor"

President Obama delivered a call for helping the poor -- a day after his campaign seized on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's remarks that he's "not concerned about the very poor."

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama cast his policies -- including efforts to help struggling homeowners -- as part of "God's command to love thy neighbor as thy self.

"I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to 'love thy neighbor as thyself,' " said Obama.

And he suggested that Jesus would endorse his call to tax the rich -- or what he called "shared responsibility.

"For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,' " he said. "It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others."

Obama didn't mention Romney, who later sought to clarify his remarks by saying he planned to focus on middle income Americans.

He suggested U.S. foreign aid is "not just about strengthening alliances, or promoting democratic values, or projecting American leadership around the world...It's also about the biblical call to care for the least of these –- for the poor; for those at the margins of our society. 

"To answer the responsibility we're given in Proverbs to 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.' And for others, it may reflect the Jewish belief that the highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their own.

"Treating others as you want to be treated. Requiring much from those who have been given so much.  Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper. Caring for the poor and those in need. These values are old."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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