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WASHINGTON (RNS) In a speech bemoaning the necessity of war and the potential for peace, President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize Thursday (Dec. 10) by declaring that “no holy war can ever be a just war.”
In his 36-minute remarks in Oslo, Norway, Obama addressed how fear of loss of identity — including religious identification — can lead to conflict and cited the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. eight years ago as an example.
“And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan,” Obama said. “These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no holy war can ever be a just war.”
Perpetrators believing they are “carrying out divine will” have no restraint in who they harm, he said.
“Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it’s incompatible with the very purpose of faith,” the president said, “for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”
Obama referred to the late Rev. Martin Luther King, who won the prize in 1964, several times in his speech and called himself “someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work.” He urged listeners to strive to follow the example of non-violence advocates like King and Mahatma Gandhi, using “the love that they preached” as a guide.
“Let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls,” he said.
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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