From: Clinton-HQ@Campaign92.Org (Clinton/Gore '92)
Subject: CLINTON: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT PRAYER BREAKFAST
Date: 4 Feb 93 15:59:20 GMT
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release February 4, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT PRAYER BREAKFAST
The Washington Hilton
9:38 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Congressman
Emerson and distinguished guests at the head table; to my friend,
Reverend Billy Graham, and Ruth, and to all those who have given such
moving presentations. This has been a wonderful morning I think for
all of us.
When I heard Wentley Phipps recounting our first, rather
awkward meeting, I thought that I would admit to being Governor of
Alabama just to hear him sing. (Laughter and applause.)
My mind has been full of memories this morning. I
helped to start the first Governor's Prayer Breakfast in my state; it
became a very important part of our life there. And every year I had
the pleasure of delegating two Arkansans -- one a clergyman or woman,
and one a citizen -- to come to this wonderful event.
I thought about the first time I ever saw Billy Graham
-- appropriate to mention now. He came in the 1950s, in the heat of
all our racial trouble, to Arkansas to have a crusade. And the White
Citizens Council tried to get him, because of the tensions of the
moment, to agree to segregate his crusade in the '50s in the south.
And he said, "If I have to do that, I'm not coming." (Applause.)
And I remember, I got a Sunday school teacher in my
church -- and I was about 11 years old -- to take me 50 miles to
Little Rock so I could hear a man preach who was trying to live by
what he said. And then, I remember, for a good while thereafter,
trying to send a little bit of my allowance to the Billy Graham
Crusade because of the impression he made on me then.
I am honored that all of you are here not for a
political purpose. We come here to seek the help and guidance of our
Lord, putting aside our differences as men and women who freely
acknowledge that we don't have all the answers. And we come here
seeking to restore and renew and strengthen our faith.
In this town, as much as any place on the face of the
Earth, we need that. We need faith as a source of strength. "The
assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen," the
Scripture says. What it means to me is that here, if we have enough
faith, in spite of all the pressures to the contrary, we can define
ourselves from the inside out, in a town where everybody tries to
define you from the outside in.
We need our faith as a source of hope because it teaches
us that each of us is capable of redemption and, therefore, that
progress is possible. Not perfection, for all the reasons Reverend
Graham said, but progress. We need our faith as a source of
challenge because, if we read the Scriptures carefully, it teaches us
that all of us must try to live by what we believe; or in more
conventional terms, to live out the admonition of President Kennedy,
that here on Earth God's work must truly be our own.
But perhaps most important of all for me, we need our
faith, each of us -- President, Vice President, Senator, Congressman,
General, Justice -- as a source of humility. To remember that, as
Bishop Sheen said, we are all sinners. St. Paul once said in an
incredibly moving scripture in the Bible, "The very thing which I
would not do that I do and that which I would that I do not." And
even more, not only because we do wrong but because we don't always
know what is right.
In funerals and weddings and other important ceremonies,
you often hear that wonderful verse from Corinthians cited, "Now
abideth faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love".
But the important thing is often left out, which is the verse above:
"Why is the greatest of these love? Because now I see through a
glass darkly. Now I know only in part, none of us know all that we
need to know to do what we need to do".
I have always been touched by the living example of
Jesus Christ, and moved particularly by all the religious leaders of
His day who were suspicious of Him, and always trying to trap Him
because He was so at ease with the hurting and the hungry and the
lonely -- and, yes, the sinners. And in one of those marvelous
attempts to trick Christ, He was asked, what is the greatest
commandment? And He answered, quoting Moses, "You shall love the
Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind." And then He added, as we should add, "This is the
great and foremost commandment. And the second is like it -- you
shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Just two weeks and a day ago, I took the oath of office
as President. You know the last four words, for those who choose to
say it in this way, are "so help me God." And the Chief Justice was
giving me the oath -- and I was trying to remember the words. And I
said, you know, when I get to the end I'm going to think of the
ringing voice of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln and the
Roosevelts and Kennedy and all the other great Presidents through the
ages, and I will say, "so help me God" with all the strength at my
command. And I did. But deep down inside, I wanted to say it the
way I was thinking it, which was, "So, help me, God." (Laughter and
So today, my prayer for you, as we begin this great, new
adventure -- and I pray that your prayer for me will be -- that God
will help us to have the strength to define ourselves from the inside
out, not the outside in; to have the hope that it takes never to give
up; and the determination it takes always to make progress in an
imperfect world and the humility to walk by faith and not by sight.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 9:45 A.M. EST