(Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)
(USA TODAY) President Obama used the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday to declare freedom of religion a major part of American foreign policy.
Saying countries that assure religious freedom tend to be more peaceful, Obama told a bipartisan crowd that "freedom of religion matters to our national security."
The president said that he and his administration have raised the issue in meetings with China, Burma, and Middle East and African nations that restrict worship.
"All around the world, freedom of religion is under threat," Obama said, and protecting that freedom is "a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."
The president called for the release of missionaries who are imprisoned in North Korea and Iran. He also criticized armed conflicts involving religion, saying that "the killing of innocents is never fulfilling God's will."
Obama has spoken every year of his presidency at the National Prayer Breakfast, a bipartisan event that began in the early 1950s.
You may also like...
Arrrrrr! Pirates invade Tampa for Gasparilla
Treason? Secret Service visits candidate who says Obama should hang
Mystery House: Unsuspecting house holds a hidden secret
Abuse Arrest: Hog-hunting mom leaves kids in freezing car
Seeking Sasquatch: Bigfoot sightings abound in Colorado
Cyclist stuck in windshield: "Hi, I'm the guy you hit"
Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here
David Jackson, USA TODAY