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President gives Hawaii surfer a standing ovation

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:04 a.m. HST, Feb 07, 2014

WASHINGTON >> Hawaii surfer Bethany Hamilton got a standing ovation and President Barack Obama reaffirmed that freedom of religion is a central tenet of U.S. diplomacy at the annual National Prayer Breakfast this morning.

Obama cast his message as an international call for human rights, singling out countries that he said have fallen short, particularly when it comes to extending protections and freedoms to all faiths.

Obama told the non-denominational gathering of political leaders that some of that diplomacy is not comfortable, especially when dealing with nations that are strategically and economically important to the United States, such as China.

When meeting with Chinese leaders, he said, "I stress that realizing China's potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians and Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims."Obama also offered prayers for Kenneth Bae, a U.S. missionary being held in North Korea, and Saeed Abedini, an Idaho pastor who is in custody in Iran.

Bae was arrested in November 2012 in North Korea while leading a tour group and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified anti-government activity. Supporters say he did nothing wrong.

Abedini, who is of Iranian origin, has been held since September 2012 and is serving an eight-year sentence after being convicted of trying to establish a network of Christian churches in private homes.

In the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, he added, "we have made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths."

"More broadly I've made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all of its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they are Ahmadia Muslims in Pakistan or Bahais in Iran or Coptic Christians in Egypt," Obama said.

Obama and other attendees gave a standing ovation to Obama's fellow Hawaiian, pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, after she described how God transformed the loss of her arm from a shark attack into something "totally amazing" by giving her the ability to inspire others.

In his remarks, Obama called Hamilton, "my fellow Hawaiian," and joked that his surfing ability "is not that good," but he said, "my bodysurfing is pretty good."

Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Janice Hahn, D-Calif., welcomed the packed ballroom with some bipartisan humor. Hahn said prayer helped her forgive Gohmert for criticizing food stamp recipients for buying king crab legs. "For all you know it was imitation crab," she deadpanned.

Gohmert said he was asked whether he really wanted to serve in a Congress with all its backstabbing meanness, but he was prepared. "I was the deacon of a Baptist church," he joked.

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DAGR81 wrote:
As a community organizer Obama is second to none...as president, Obama is the worst ever...that's Obama's legacy.
on February 6,2014 | 12:37PM
control wrote:
Same old broken record. The man is not a neo-con. Get over it.
on February 6,2014 | 12:52PM
MizuInOz wrote:
Noe-con or not... He is a prevaricator extraordinaire, promotes his own personal agenda rather than the entire people of the USA and constantly undermines the Constitution that he pledged to uphold and defend. If he isn't the worst POTUS, he is the second worst. Not sure who you could claim as worse. I am sure you will say Bush. The number of lies that have been proffered to the American people by him is unconscionable. Clinton was impeached for lying about have sex with one woman, Obama has screwed the entire nation with his lies and he is still in office. Go figure. Obama is not Jesus Christ. Get over it.
on February 6,2014 | 01:41PM
DAGR81 wrote:
don't know what a "neo-con " is, but I do know that Obama is the worst President ever.
on February 6,2014 | 05:18PM
HD36 wrote:
A neo-con as I understand it is a politician in the mold of John McCain. One who is itching for war. One who will find a reason no matter how silly to indebt the country and sacrifice Americans in order to impose our beleifs on a country thousands of miles away while the country rots from within.
on February 6,2014 | 08:13PM
HanabataDays wrote:
And you should know, having experienced every single one personally.
on February 7,2014 | 12:06AM
jayz43 wrote:
Do you think he'll cinch another annual award with his "...not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS" lie?
on February 7,2014 | 12:40AM
kolohepalu wrote:
Worst ever. Mmhmm. You should go- Fox is on.
on February 6,2014 | 07:56PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Mmmmmm...self denial?
on February 7,2014 | 09:39AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
As a true Christian, I'm sure the President is forgiving all the haters in his daily prayers.
on February 6,2014 | 01:00PM
LKK56 wrote:
NanakuliBoss, unfortunately, if the President was to forgive all the haters in his daily prayers, the poor guy would be praying the whole day - just kidding, I am sure he forgives his haters.
on February 6,2014 | 01:23PM
syhud wrote:
And as a true devotee to Obama, I'm sure you worship him every night to the altar you have of Obama!
on February 6,2014 | 03:33PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
I'm just a devotee to the POTUS. I have always been, doesn't matter if it's a Republican or Democrat, white or brown, it's an American duty to back their leader.
on February 6,2014 | 05:19PM
HD36 wrote:
If that were the case we'd still be a British colony.
on February 6,2014 | 08:15PM
kolohepalu wrote:
NB- he probably does. I don't- because I know most of his detractors hate him because he's the wrong color, simple as that. The thought that people of color are wielding more and more political power in this country intimidates them, but they don't have the stones to say so- so they make up lame reasons to reflexively oppose him at every turn. Little people- they let their prejudice dictate their politics. Thankfully they're a tiny minority in our state and their demographic is shrinking overall.
on February 6,2014 | 08:11PM
jayz43 wrote:
Many are believers...that he may be a pathological liar.
on February 7,2014 | 06:31AM
aomohoa wrote:
Bethany Hamilton is an inspiration.
on February 6,2014 | 03:01PM
cojef wrote:
That's what this news article was about. Can't figure out the comments!
on February 6,2014 | 03:35PM
Slow wrote:
I've encountered Betheny Hamilton several times on the North Shore.; She is a strong young lady, who, after it all, still surs at a high, competitive level. She is a true inspiration. I am glad she was honored by Barack Obama. One surfer to another.
on February 6,2014 | 03:49PM
polu wrote:
While Obama is reaffirming freedom of religion, he is currently being sued by elements of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations over provisions in Obamacare. Hypocritical much?
on February 6,2014 | 04:36PM
kolohepalu wrote:
Right? You'd think they'd be busy enough running down their pedophile priests.
on February 6,2014 | 08:15PM
HD36 wrote:
Wonder why God let the shark bite her arm in the first place?
on February 6,2014 | 08:17PM
312guy wrote:
if you are questioning that! then you have not followed this young woman's inspirational journey
on February 6,2014 | 08:47PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Because original sin.
on February 7,2014 | 12:15AM
soundofreason wrote:
Standing ovation....surfer. Figures.
on February 7,2014 | 05:44AM
Kuokoa wrote:
Watch the video. Guess he had no choice but to stand since everyone else stood.
on February 7,2014 | 08:18AM
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