Feb. 4 (UPI) -- In his first appearance as commander in chief at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Joe Biden denounced extremism and said faith will help the United States heal many of its divisions within.
The 69th annual event was staged virtually and Democratic and Republican lawmakers shared thoughts during the program, which lasted a little more than an hour.
In his remarks, Biden spoke of the hundreds of thousands of lives taken by COVID-19, rampant unemployment and the desire for racial equality after a year that saw numerous protests nationwide.
Biden also touched on climate change and condemned the mob attack at the U.S. Capitol last month as an "assault on our democracy."
"For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time," he said. "So where do we turn? Faith.
"In the darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace. It provides clarity and purpose as well. It shows the way forward as one nation and a common purpose, to respect one another, to care for one another, to leave no one behind."
Biden asked for the depoliticization of the United States' most immediate crises -- which involve many who are going hungry, living without healthcare, being evicted from their homes and dying from the coronavirus disease.
He said that the people suffering are "fellow Americans" and "fellow human beings," and should not be seen only as Democrats, Republicans or other partisans.
"We are not a nation that can or will simply stand and watch this happen," Biden said. "It's not who we are. "It's not who faith calls us to be.
"At this moment, we cannot be timid or tired. We have too much work to do. It's by our work, not just by our words, that we will be judged."
Biden was the latest in a long line of presidents to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast, which is typically held in-person at the Washington, D.C., Hilton, not far from the White House. In fact, every sitting president has attended the event since 1953.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also delivered messages at Thursday's breakfast. Due to his health, former President Jimmy Carter sent a message to be read at the ceremony. Former President Donald Trump did not participate.